Waterville, ME: AUTISM is driving SPED costs in Maine

Aug 26, 2017, Waterville, ME, New school year brings new challenges for autistic children The number of Maine children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has been growing. In 2016, at least 3,280 students were diagnosed with autism and served by Maine schools, marking an 86 percent surge from the 1,760 diagnosed a decade earlier, according to data from the Maine Department of Education. That surge is one of the reasons state funding for special education increased over the same decade from $255 billion to $368 billion, said Jan Breton, the state’s director of special services. Autism has also driven an increase in MaineCare spending on support programs for children with developmental disabilities, accounting for more than half of the $62.7 billion that was spent on those programs in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, according to data provided by a spokeswoman from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.