The Autism Society of Maine provides education and resources to support the valued lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
The purposes of the Autism Society of Maine are:
- To promote and advocate for the general welfare of individuals with autism;
- To promote family and community support;
- To help the community develop a better understanding of the problems of individuals with autism;
- To further the advancement of all ameliorative and preventive study, research, therapy, care and cure of individuals with autism;
- To promote the education, training, and vocational opportunities of individuals with autism and to foster the development of integrated care on their behalf;
- To promote the establishment of adequate diagnostic, therapeutic, educational and recreational facilities for individuals with autism;
- To serve as a clearing house for gathering and disseminating information regarding persons with autism and act as a public information and referral service for autism spectrum disorders;
- To further the education and training of parents and professional personnel working with, educating, and caring for individuals with autism.
Autism Society of Maine Options Policy
The Autism Society of Maine promotes the active and informed involvement of family members and the individual with autism in the planning of
individualized, appropriate services and supports. Click here to read the Autism Society of Maine Options Policy.
ASM began as a support group for several parents who had children with autism who were placed in a day program at Mariah Clark School in Hallowell this program was created for children with
behavior and communication disorders. The group met monthly to share concerns, experiences, ask and answer each other's questions, and gain new information. The idea of expanding the group to
include parent support groups from other areas (Gardiner, Hallowell, Winthrop, Waterville, Bangor) sprang up. The Spurwink School was also contacted because at that time they had a day program /
school for children with autism. We eventually started having speakers from various area programs.
At that time we began our contact with ASA (then known as the National Society for Autistic Children – NSAC) and wrote our bylaws so that we could become an affiliated chapter. We first called our
chapter the Maine Society of Autistic Children (MSAC) and later the Maine Chapter of the Autism Society of America (MCASA). However, another group in Maine had that same acronym so our name changed
again, and we became the Autism Society of Maine (ASM).
We received funding from Developmental Disabilities Council, the State organization which provided funding for programs that served children with developmental disabilities. Initially we used the money
to pay for speakers, food, respite for our meetings, and to hold conferences. Later, we wrote a grant to the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Mental Health and Corrections (now known as DHHS).
We continued to receive some funding from the Developmental Disabilities Council.
We hired our first Executive Director and moved into our first office in Gardiner. There we evolved into an autism information referral service for the entire State of Maine. Today, we also run several
statewide programs – Information Specialist Program, Summer Camp, and Family Retreat. We are currently located at 72B Main Street, Winthrop, ME.
Nominate Someone Special for an ASM Award!
Do you know someone special that deserves recognition? This could be a teacher, an in-home worker, or someone who has touched the lives of individuals with autism. ASM is now accepting award nominations and we want to celebrate these special people at our Annual Meeting (date to be announced.) If you would like to submit a nomination, please write in 1,000 words or less why this person should receive this award and attach it to nomination form.
Members of ASM Board of Directors
The Autism Society of Maine Board of Directors consists of up to 15 members, 4 are officers. The Board of Directors includes
parents, individuals on the spectrum and professionals. This is a volunteer board.
Nancy Ponzetti-Dyer, President
Dr. Ponzetti-Dyer graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 1977 and earned her Doctoral Degree in Psychology from Binghamton University in 1986, focusing on Applied Behavioral Analysis. She was
Clinical Coordinator for CPC Mental Health Center, Residential Group Home Program in New Jersey, which served children and adolescents with diagnoses of autism. She had a private practice in Winthrop for
10 years and provided treatment for children and families and consultation to schools. In 1999 she joined the staff in Edmund Ervin Pediatric Center at Maine General Medical Center where she provides
treatment, evaluation, consultation, and supervision services. For over 20 years she has worked with children diagnosed with Developmental Disabilities, including autism. She lives in Winthrop.
Laurie Raymond, Past President
Ms. Raymond is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Bachelor and Masters degree in social work, both from the University of Maine at Orono. Her professional experience includes work in a variety of settings: schools, hospitals, home care, case management, residential treatment, outpatient services, adult developmental services and juvenile corrections in Maine and Arizona. After working in social work for nearly three decades, Laurie recently joined the Maine LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders) Program to update and enhance her understanding of neurodevelopmental and related disabilities and evidenced-based interventions for individuals and families. By taking this time to study with experts around our state, attend various specialty clinics, Laurie hopes to be a stronger advocate and clinician. Additionally, Laurie now is providing clinical supervision to a school district in Western Maine. She is a parent of an adult son with autism and resides in Portland.
Tiffiny Rooney, Vice President
Ms. Rooney is a Registered Nurse with more than 25 years of experience in Nursing in the areas of Homecare, Community Health, Geriatrics, Telehealth, and Education. She earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Southern Maine and a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, and is board
certified in Nursing Case Management. She is presently employed at the VA as the Chief of Education. Throughout her career she has worked with individuals on the Autism Spectrum. She has a familly member diagnosed with Asperger's. Tiffiny lives in Vassalboro.
Ms. Brooking's education and experience is in Early Childhood Education. Jennifer worked several years as a preschool teacher in New Hampshire before moving to Maine. Currently, she teaches dance at a Portland public school and is the Facilitator of a school recognized Special Education parent group in her children's school district. Jennifer is an active advocate for her children's needs and for individuals and families that are touched by autism. Jennifer lives in Cape Elizabeth with her husband and their three children, two of who are on the Autism Spectrum.
Ms. Crowley earned a BA from Wheaton College and a MS from Michigan State University. She resides in Portland where she appreciates all the wonderful food and outdoor activities the area offers. Katie currently works as an Early Childhood Special Educator for Child Development Services REACH where she happily supports (plays!) with preschool aged children with special needs. Prior to this position, Katie was employed in various capacities in Social Services as well as Early Care and Education. She held positions as an Assistant Director of In Home Support Services, Childcare Center Program Director and an Adjunct Instructor at a local community college. During the past seven years, Katie has also enjoyed a position with ASM as an Information Specialist. Through these experiences, Katie has firsthand knowledge of how the Autism Society of Maine has provided exceptional outreach to individuals, families and the community at large.
Mr. Farnsworth earned his B.S. degree in Education from The Ohio State University, a Masters in Divinity from Boston University and completed advanced graduate study in organization development at Temple University. He has worked in the field of developmental disability services for over forty years in Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as Maine. He served as Executive Director of Woodfords Family Services in Portland from 1992 until his retirement in 2010. During that time he was very active in the Maine Association for Community Service Providers and served as their first President from 2000 to 2002.
During his career he has served on a number of committees related to the field involving the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. He also served as the Chair of the Pineland Board of Visitors at the time of the closing of that facility. Mr. Farnsworth has taken the cause of people with developmental disabilities to the state legislature by being elected to serve as a State Representative in the 118th, 126th, 127th and 128th legislatures.
Richard and his wife live in Portland . They are fortunate to have their children and grandchildren living in Portland as well.
Ms. Nason has an associate degree in early childhood education and an associate degree in business management. She graduated from Casco Bay College in Portland Maine in 1999. She worked in the early childhood education field until 2002 when she and her husband chose for her to stay home and raise their children. In 2010 she started to home school both her boys for 6 years before they reentered the public school system. Christina started working at the high school last year as a sub and ended the year as an Ed Tech, which she will continue doing for the 2018-2019 school year. Christina finds it rewarding to help these high school students with her personal knowledge from having a child with special needs. Christina is always working hard to get service for her oldest child who is on the spectrum and has other medical diagnoses. Christina lives in Norway Maine, her childhood home town, with her husband and their two boys, 16 and 14.
Sherry Pike, Secretary
Ms. Pike has taught in public education for the past 24 years, in a variety of grades. In all the grades she has taught, there has always been a student that falls somewhere on the spectrum, or a student with a family
member that does. Sherri feels the more she can learn about autism and help make more people aware, the better educator she will be. For the past 19 years she has been teaching at Winthrop Grade School as a teacher
of Early K- Third grade. Prior to this, she taught at the Cottrell School in Monmouth as a Title 1 Teacher. Sherri has taught in Adult Ed and Nursery School as well. She has lived in the Winthrop Community
with her husband for more than 30 years, raising their two daughters here.
Ms. Rankowski is currently finishing up her Master's Degree in Developmental Disabilities with an emphasis in Leadership/Advocacy from Nova Southeastern University. She is an international presenter on Autism, a published
author, an instructor for the Autism Speaks transitions online course, and an in home support worker. As a self-advocate, she spreads the message of positivity and Autism acceptance to everyone she meets. In her other life,
she is a fire spinner in the award winning vaudeville troupe Dark Follies. Brigid resides in Maine.
Ms. Webber graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a B.S. in Communication, and earned her MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. A marketing professional for over twenty years, she is presently employed as an Account Executive with Ethos Marketing & Design in Westbrook. Kim is also a Board Member for Fiddlehead Center for the Arts in Scarborough. She resides in Scarborough with her husband and two young boys. Kim joins our board eager to contribute her time to a cause close to her heart, and with a desire to become a more educated parent for her boys, both who have been diagnosed with high functioning Autism.
Jonathan (Jon) Youde, Treasurer
Mr. Youde graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta and earned a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration. Since graduation has Jon has been employed by the Maine Municipal Bond Bank operating an energy purchasing program. Jon lives in Hallowell and is the parent of a young adult with Autism.