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St. Mary’s County maintains a full continuum of services for children with a disability code of autism and those who are being considered for assessment to determine if autism is an appropriate disability code. The staff from the Department of Special Education work closely with staff members and families to support:

  • Teachers in programming for students with an autism spectrum disorder,
  • Administrators in designing appropriate learning environments and allocating resources;
  • School psychologists in administering assessments and conducting observations;
  • Guidance counselors in developing appropriate social skills interventions; and
  • Families in developing home supports.

The framework of supports provided to those students identified from Birth to age 21 are provided through COMPASS. 



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COMPASS supports implement best practice strategies and interventions through professional development, consultation and direct services both inside and outside of the general education setting.   To the maximum extent, all services to students are delivered in their least restrictive environment according to the needs in the student’s IEP and IFSP. Services to children under the age of 3 are provided through the coordinated supports of the Infants and Toddlers Program and the Autism Support Team.

COMPASS Support Team Members:

  • Lisa Dean: Supervisor Special Education
  • Jodi Truesdell: Autism Specialist IRT, Lead Teacher

Specific requests regarding supports to students with Autism Spectrum Disorders may be directed to:

Lisa Dean
Supervisor of Special Education
301-475-5511 x32227

This program that is run through the Maryland State Department of Education and DHMH is intended to support eligible students and families. While the waiver is currently full, families may continue to place their children on a waiting list by contacting the Autism Waiver Registry at 1-866-417-3480. Families may also contact Lisa Dean for more information.

St. Mary’s County Public Schools is a participant in the Autism Waiver Program that is jointly administered by the Maryland State Department of Education, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Local School Systems. Active duty military families living in St. Mary’s County may also refer to their Tricare policy for information on Autism support services available through the ECHO Program. For information on eligibility and services contact:

Resources for Families and Staff

Autism Internet Modules

Interactive modules that address assessment and diagnosis, structured work systems, visual supports, peer-mediated instruction, transition and general interventions. This is a free resource available to staff and families.

The National Autism Center 

The National Autism Center is the May Institutes center for the promotion of evidence-based practices.  It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by providing reliable information, promoting best practices, and offering comprehensive resources for families, practitioners, and communities.

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders

This resource references best practices in Autism Supports as well as ongoing research on Evidence-Based Practices. Online instructional modules are available under the "Additional Resources" link on the main page.

Sesame Street Autism Resources for Parents

Reduce the Noise: Help Loved Ones with Sensory Overload Enjoy Shopping

Provides tips and strategies for helping individuals with sensory overload have a more manageable shopping experience

CDC Autism Links and Resources

Provides links and resources on the topic of autism

Operation Autism for Military Families

Operation Autism supports military families with children with autism and autism spectrum disorders by providing resources, services, and supports 

Home Modification for Autistic Kids

Strategies and resources for modifying the home environment to help children with autism feel safe in their home environment

Temple Grandin's Teaching Tips

Tips and strategies for teaching children and adults with autsim. 

Estate Planning for Parents of Kids with Autism

Resources and guidance for parents of children with autism in planning for their child's future.