HELPLINE: (443) 330-5341


About the Pathfinders for Autism Resource Center

“I appreciate that when I call Pathfinders for Autism, whether I’m just looking for a resource or I’m calling in distress, I get a friendly voice and a person who really ‘gets it’.”

Pam C.

“Thank you for blessing thousands of us with your resources, wisdom and humor. You all are the best!!!”

Nancy B.

“Thank you so much for your help. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this, I feel like a giant weight has been lifted.”

Erin O.

“I was looking specifically for help for my 12-year-old son who has Asperger’s. He was suffering through some really tough middle school years at school. Through a link on your website, I found a terrific school for him. He has been attending that school since December and is a changed child. Without your site, I might have found the school, but it I would have lost valuable time in searching for it. I have also used your website for the comprehensive Calendar of Events. I have already attended several events that I would not have otherwise known about.”

Karen T.

“This [information] is wonderful! Thank you so much for all the info. I’m going right now to look at some of the websites. Hopefully I’ll find what I need. If not, I may be back to you. And want to thank you again for lending an ear when I needed it.”

Nadine J.

“If I could give you a hug through the phone I would!”

Distraught mom of 12 year old son

“Thank you so much for providing the names of these wonderful clinicians to us. Thank you for being so thorough and helping me during a difficult time.”

Linda S.

“Good for you, not only trying to help your own son, but helping others along the way with trying to change things. As if you don’t have enough to do already with taking care of your own…I just feel so overwhelmed sometimes I can’t imagine taking on the extra stuff that you do, but look forward to the day that I can help pave the way for others….”

Mom of preschool age child with autism

“Thank you for all of this wonderful information! Thank you for all of your time and assistance today, it was so wonderful speaking to you. You were such a huge help and you gave me more information in our 20 minute conversation than anyone has given me over the past year!”

Heather B.

“I am very grateful for you. You couldn’t have responded any better; it was perfect.”

Mom of 16 year daughter

“Your tips to tighten up my strategy for the school has made a huge impact for me to use and help my son with the color associated with the choices. Thank you soooo much for talking to me at length. Thank god for you both. I have no extended family to really draw supports from so it truly means a lot to me.”

Jeanne A.

“Wow! This is terrific! Thanks so very . I truly appreciate all you have put together and wish you much success in your endeavors as you are truly a God-send to us.”

Grandmother to 2 year old grandson

“I cannot thank you enough for all of this information. You are a God send. I have started reading just a fraction of the material and have already found many excellent ideas that I hadn’t thought about. Your writings are wonderful and just make me want to read more and more. Thank you again so much and I cannot wait to talk to you further.”

Lynn D.

“All that I have seen so far that Pathfinders offers and puts together for the families, is outstanding and I applaud you for it! Your email from yesterday with all the resources and contacts was wonderful to receive. Your kindness is so appreciated. Knowing that we are not “out there”, that we can get help and have our questions answered is very comforting.”

Gale G.

“Thank you Trish. In fact there were items at the very bottom of the email that was exactly what I needed too. It is comforting to see when I feel so lost and without-help.”


About our Free Recreational Events

“We just had to drop you a note to thank you and your staff again for providing such a wonderful opportunity on Sunday at Temptation Farms. The kids had a blast and loved riding and learning about the horses and farm life. Pathfinders is such a blessing to our family as we truly enjoy the different events that you all sponsor. Please relay our thanks and appreciation to Mr. Carr. We know that without his support, the day would not have been possible. Again, thanks…thanks…thanks! We had a great time and are looking forward to future events!”

Will and Tressa H.

“Thank you for offering this today. We sailed and enjoyed every minute. Bless you.”

Kim A.

My husband, son, and I attended last night’s event at the aquarium. We are members of the aquarium, and we go often because my three year old loves fish, sharks, and dolphins. We have never been so impressed as last night. The aquarium staff was great, and the Pathfinders’ staff was so friendly and helpful! The biggest delight was watching the faces of kids and adults alike light up because they were experiencing the aquarium for the first time, in the best environment possible. It was truly amazing. Thanks a million times for making my son’s night, and I’m sure the nights of many others! :)”

Heather F.

“I just wanted to write to say THANK YOU again for a truly wonderful evening! My entire family had a great time at The Aquarium!!! Thanks again!!!”


“We are home from a wonderful night at Baltimore’s National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor. Thank you to Pathfinders for Autism for hosting a wonderful event and making our Son’s Birthday celebration, a night to remember!”


“Thank you so much for the aquarium tickets. We had an awesome time and due to the expenses of my son’s diet, biomedical and therapy treatments, we would not have gone on our own because of the cost. My other 2 typical children really found it to be a treat as well since we don’t get out often. My son with Autism had a look of wonder on his face the whole time. We really appreciate all the hard work and selfless hours people like you put in to make life a little less stressful, fun and more manageable. Thank you.”

Rebecca B.

“Jim and I had a great time last evening at the Ironbirds’ game and appreciate all of your efforts. You did a super job and everyone we spoke with had a wonderful time! Thank you for being both efficient and easy to work with.”

Jim & Monty, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

“just wanted to express my gratitude for the tickets to the IronBirds game on Sunday, July 14, 2013. My family truly enjoyed our experience. The memories created that day will be forever cherished. The [special Autism Awareness] uniforms were awesome. However, my favorite part of the entire experience was when I took my four year old autistic nephew to meet Ferrous. The innocence in Elijah’s face, along with his actions/reactions, while exploring every part of that bird, including his tail, teeth (which there are none), eyes, hair, and shoes, will always be in a permanent part of my memory. Even the part where he stuck his entire head in Ferrous’ beak to give him a kiss goodbye.”

Denise L.

“A belated thank you to you and everyone at Pathfinders for an amazing day at the zoo. Our family had a great time on the walk together and enjoyed the festivities afterwards. Everyone there was so helpful and nice to our family. We also had a great time visiting the animals in the zoo. Our youngest, had the most fun on the carousel and we loved checking out the new penguin exhibit. Thank you again for a fabulous family day. As usual, Pathfinders helps families to feel like they are not alone in this journey through life with autism.”

Kristen and Pat Skerry

“I’d like to personally thank each and everyone of you for giving my family these tickets. We had the opportunity to get together with other family members that we hadn’t seen in such a LONG time! We were able to have fun, enjoy each other’s company and most of all, enjoy a great game. Pathfinders for Autism ROCKS!!! Thank you again for providing families like mine opportunities to have fun and live our best lives!!”

Pam and Taylor

About our Workshops and Trainings

“Both Shelly and Trish are wonderful assets to the Autism community. Their approach to educating the public on Autism is invaluable. Thank you for your time.”

Janet Palmer, M.A., M.Ed, Advocates for Success

“Thank you so much for coming. Everyone loved your presentation. You have given us a better understanding of autism. Thank you so much.”

Emily, Baltimore Lutheran School

“On behalf of everyone at the Johns Hopkins Advocates for Autism, I would like to say thank you for taking the time to come speak to us last week! Your talk was so personal and engaging and our members enjoyed it very much. The work of Pathfinders for Autism is truly inspiring and it is such a great resource for parents.”

“I want to thank you for your participation in the Sparks Elementary Disability Awareness Fair! Your presentation was relevant and engaging. The kids definitely benefitted from the information and experience that you shared regarding Autism, and had great questions for you! This was an extremely valuable experience for all!”

“Thank you and Trish Kane for the awesome job on Friday. It was exactly what we were expecting. The information was excellent and any time you can get the class to interact is always a plus. Thanks again.”

Captain David Kloos, MD State Police


About our PFA Tips

“You really get it!!! The part about the cactus needles brought tears to my eyes. The part about the elevator buttons made me laugh. You really get it. You really understand. I have been hiding this ASD from people for so long. I have been so isolated. Thank you for being there. Thank you for writing this.”

An adult woman with autism responding to PFA Tips: Explaining Autism using Everyday Examples

“I just had to email you and tell you what a great article you wrote (Explaining Autism Using Everyday Examples). We’ve lived it and you really hit the nail on the head. I’ve passed the article along to both of my kids’ schools. I’m the Special Ed Liaison for both schools so I’m always sending articles their way for circulation to other parents. I’ve also sent the article to some family members that don’t exactly ‘get it’ with my son. Personally I think both my son and daughter (who is not autistic) have more grace than most adults in this world. I couldn’t be more proud and thank goodness for groups like Pathfinders who try and educate the public.”

Beth C.

“This is one of the best! (Surviving 4th of July Fireworks) This holiday turns into a disaster for many families and these tips are a great reference. Thanks for sharing.”

Ann-Marie S.

“From a parent of a 28 yr old–I sure would have been helped in the past by your article (Back to School). Great job.”

Joan W.

“We really appreciate getting your Parent Tips. It seems so difficult to find answers to practical questions that we have and your Tips tend to lean towards the practical side of the issue and not just treatments, cures, medical or behavioral topics which we get plenty of.”

Seth F.

“We really appreciate the e-mails and tips. Finally we feel connected to someone who understands the whole child with autism, and the many situations of daily life that he perceives differently, from other children. Thank you.”

Joyce T.

“This is great (Build Employment Skills Now). Thanks for the valuable tips in this critical area of concern for families that have a loved one living with autism.”

Glenn C.

“Wow Shelly! Reading Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go was better than an hour with a therapist. It really hit home with me because I feel like I have permission now to “let it go”. Your articles do wonders for me. Thank you for this!”

Trish C.

“This is amazing, thank you! You read my mind. We will get on a plane soon and Airports and Flying will really help. Thanks for all you do.”

Kathleen C.

“THANK YOU for your New Year’s Resolutions!!!!!! These little reminders can be a life line sometimes. And the act of laughing is always the best stress reliever. And THANK YOU….for all you do…all year long.”

Karen M.

“This is beautiful and so true (A Letter To My Daughter). This will give many parents of children on the spectrum who have siblings something to think about. It is so hard for there to be any balance. This is very insightful. Thank you!!”

Joanie D.

“Oh my Shelly, your letter to your daughter made me cry! You write so beautifully- what a talent you have. Do you mind if I share this letter with my son?”

Donna B.

A Letter To My Daughter” made me tear up…thank you! I will share on my page! If you see Shelly again, please tell her how beautiful her “letter” and her awareness is!” “A letter of a mother to her daughter, whose brother is on the Autism spectrum – highly recommend!!”

Sabine O.

The DSM-5 and Autism is very good- clear and understandable. Great information and detailed. Thank you.”

Sue Rattman, Benefits Coordinator and Resource Specialist, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region, Inc.

“Love this!!! Thank you! I just forwarded The DSM-5 and Autism to all of my autism colleagues in the Office of Special Education. A great tool – so simple and easy to read. BRAVO!”

Debbie Page, BCPS Office of Special Education

About our First Responder Trainings

“I just wanted to express my sincere appreciation for the Law Enforcement / Firs Responder Autism Program you facilitated for the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Public Safety Training Staff. Your program is outstanding, and I will be recommending it to colleagues in the future. Your training is extremely important in developing and fostering a positive relationship with the community. It is my hope that Pathfinders for Autism continues to assist the Law Enforcement community by providing training to as many departments as possible.

William P. White, Johns Hopkins University and Medicine

“Since the Maryland State Police’s initial offer of using Pathfinders for Autism to conduct our training several years ago, your organization continues to maintain their reputation of excellence in instruction for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The Pathfinders for Autism staff has demonstrated their expertise of the objectives provided by the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Commissions during each subsequent Entry Level State Police Academy class.  I have witnessed and participated in several classes and can verify all the positive feedback we have received from candidates and MSP instructors. Shelly McLaughlin and her team are outstanding instructors who provide a vast of experience through professional and personal accounts that both enhance learning and understanding.  Our candidates leave each session with a widespread understanding of identifying and interacting with citizens affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities during their daily work experience.”

Sgt. Anthony Riley, Maryland State Police

Read the entire letter

“The Pathfinders for Autism team has provided outstanding training and mentoring for our Entry Level Program for the last four years that I have been with the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions (MPCTC). I can attest and aver that I have been present for the training sessions and they are top quality, germinal and current. In addition, I have been in constant contact with Shelly over the last year and worked closely with her team as they have written updated lesson plans, completed presentation modules, prepared testing methods both written and practical, and used Commission approved objectives to prepare a very timely and accurate program. The programs presented to our recruits are vital, especially as we move the police model for training in an area that is conscience to understanding and interacting positively with the IDD populous. We are proud of our partnership with Pathfinders as it has proved to be a positive influence on our recruits, and is changing the mindset of policing in general – which is a great tribute to the work the team has done. I also know that Pathfinders provides training to our seasoned-officers in yearly “in-service” sessions, which too is paramount for bettering the community service of our officers.”

William Blake, Manager, PEL, MPCTC

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“We initially approached Pathfinders for Autism to conduct this training based on their reputation for providing expert instruction in Autism. We have continued to call on them for each subsequent Entry Level State Police Academy class because of the positive feedback we have received from candidates and MSP instructors. Trish Kane and Shelly McLaughlin provide a balance of factual information and practical tips and strategies, along with personal stories that both entertain and provoke thoughtful consideration. Our candidates leave Trish and Shelly’s session with a comprehensive understanding as to why this Autism training is important and how it will play into their daily work experience.”

Sgt. Mark Rauser, Maryland State Police

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“I wanted to express my thanks and gratitude to you [Shelly McLaughlin] and Trish Kane for the excellent presentation you put together for the Agents and Inspectors of the Comptroller’s Office, Field Enforcement Division on October 17, 2013. I have heard nothing but praise from those that attended the training and observed firsthand how the members of my Agency sought you and Trish out after the training for additional information. A class that many thought would be boring turned out to be very exciting and informative thanks to the way you and Trish presented the training.”

S/A Anthony Hatcher, Division Manager, Field Enforcement Division, Office of the Comptroller

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“I am a Law Enforcement Officer, but more importantly I am the mom of a disabled child. I shouldn’t say “child”, my son Glenn is 23 now. Glenn was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, but not diagnosed until he was about 9. He has a number of Autistic tendencies, so I’m familiar with a lot of the indicators. I’m very sorry it took a young man dying for agencies to realize the need. The responsibility is on us as First Responders and ignorance is no longer a viable excuse. I have attended several training seminars referencing Autism and disability awareness, both as a mom and as an officer. I believe your training was applicable for First Responders, whether it be Law Enforcement, EMS or Correctional Officers. You seem to understand that we have a job to do, but we can be more educated and aware. You didn’t say, “Don’t do this or that”, you said, “when you do that, keep this in mind”. That is exactly what we needed to hear.”

Det. Janelle Myers, Harford County Sheriff’s Office

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“I know I was guilty of having a perceived notion of the characteristics of a person with autism, but, through your presentation, I discovered that every person/child with autism is as unique as everyone else. What makes one person tick may be completely different for the next person. The demonstration you gave using the two buckets and golf balls for answers to a question was very effective. Your tips on engaging a person with autism will be very beneficial to all of our employees as we interact with autistic victims/witnesses.”

Terry A. Sullivan, Victim/Witness Coordinator, Harford County State’s Attorney Office

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“The passion and dedication the instructors display when teaching is truly refreshing. From a law enforcement perspective, I believe the most beneficial part of the training is how the instructors interact with the students and introduce a person with autism into the lesson plan. I would highly recommend this training and will continue to work with the Pathfinders for Autism for all our CIT & recruit related training.”

Sgt. Michael Cox, Anne Arundel County Police

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“Pathfinders instructed over 22 classes and reached approximately 500 law enforcement and correctional deputies during this time. Even though this was a required training for the individuals, many of those that attended responded that the training was very worthwhile and they now understand how someone lives with autism as well as other developmental disabilities. The instructors are very knowledgeable and always willing to assist the Sheriff’s Office when they have been called upon. The classes taught were interactive and they even brought in a participant who had a disability [paid contractual trainer] and allowed that individual to talk with the class so they could see and understand that even though a person has a disability, doesn’t mean they cannot interact within a group. This helped our personnel understand how to approach and talk with someone who has a disability.”

Keith Warner, Education and Training Manager, Harford County Sheriff’s Office

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“The program presented by your organization was well organized, effective, and professionally presented to our county’s law enforcement community. To date a number of deputies/officers have approached me and advised they have successfully implemented the skills taught in the classroom to individuals suffering from developmental disabilities, which they encountered during “calls for service”. Based on the aforementioned facts, the training you provided law enforcement professionals serving the citizens of Carroll County enabled them to recognize the characteristics of autism, and understand the associate risks to intervene appropriately.”

Sgt. Mark DeBord, Training Coordinator, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office

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“I am assigned to the Prince George’s County Police Departments, Psychological Services Division. I was tasked recently with filling a three hour block of instruction on Autism, and Intellectual Disabilities. Starting from scratch I made a cold call to Pathfinders for Autism and it was one of the most beneficial phone calls I have ever made. I was completely blown away with Pathfinders’ professionalism, knowledge, and willingness to share stories with the police recruits. Most importantly, they brought two young men to speak to the class that had Autism, and an Intellectual Disability. When these two young men spoke to the recruits, and assisted with a few role play scenarios, I believe it truly touched the students. To facilitate real life people and events to our young recruits went far beyond our expectations. I feel very confident that each recruit that attended this training, will be much more confident and willing to assist a family that may be having an incident our situation with an Autistic family member. I highly recommend Pathfinders for Autism to anyone that may need training pertaining to Autism or Intellectual Disabilities, they are second to none!”

Cpl. Todd Miceli, Prince George’s County Police Department

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“The Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company (BAVFC) had the pleasure of hearing a presentation from Pathfinders for Autism. Over 60 members attended, and amazing number of personnel for a weekly drill! We cant say enough good about this organization and what it does. The BAVFC strongly suggests that if you are another public safety agency in MD reading this please reach out to this group and let them come to your organization and speak. It is crucial that we ALL increase our awareness of autism spectrum disorders especially in the emergency situation.”

Richard Gardiner, Public Information Office, Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company

“I would first like to take a moment to say thank you for the outstanding class you both put on Tuesday night here at the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company. I would also like to say an extra special thank you to Glenn for allowing all of us the opportunity to meet and share some great times with him. I have received nothing but outstanding compliments from all the members about how excellent your program was. I have to say that I myself did not know what to expect from your class, and I feel that same uncertainty was on the minds of most members. That is what made your program so incredible. After the class we all felt so much more confident as first responders, that now we would all be able to perform to the highest level when dealing with these emergencies. All the members have stated how much your class has improved their confidence, and left them with such a better understanding of individuals with IDD. Your class had just the right amount of presentation mixed with practical interaction and kept the environment both f un, professional and extremely educational.”

Michael E. Walker, Jr., Deputy Fire Chief, Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company

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“I wanted to write to you to thank you for the in-service training you and your staff provided to our agency personnel over the course of our seven separate in-service sessions. I received nothing but positive comments from our personnel regarding your training. The positive comments I received were about both on the substance of the material, and on the way it was presented. The attendees enjoyed the interaction with the various self-advocates who presented to them, and felt those interact ions helped them to better understand the various disabilities. The attendees enjoyed the manner in which the information was presented by the instructors, as that too was interactive, informative and kept their attention. The attendees felt the information was very relevant and beneficial to them as it seemed specifically tailored to help them in their specific jobs in law enforcement and not presented as a broad, generic presentation of general information. The attendees now feel more confident responding to and handing calls for service involving persons with various intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Sgt. Troy Angel, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office

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“Thank you for assisting with our Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training which, Shelly & Drew are an intricate part. Shelly and Drew’s team-work in teaching Autism Awareness is unbelievable. I am happy to know that they are always there to work with us and are always a part of our training program. Their curriculum teaches all aspects of our 40-hour program in 2 hours. They communicate the empathy that we expect from officers. They bring a family and consumer aspect that cannot be duplicated and further the de-escalation skills and techniques they explain are invaluable. Their Autism Awareness class is the cornerstone of our 40-hour CIT training. As a parent of a child with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy I personally relate to their passion to help all children and families.”

Lt. Steven Thomas, Anne Arundel County Police Department

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“I just wanted to reach out, having gotten great training/instruction from you regarding police response to incidents involving I/DD and discussing how to improve the Fort Meade PD’s abilities regarding same. Last Friday, we had an incident involving a 13yo high-functioning autistic boy who, at approximately midnight, left his family’s on-post quarters and, over the next several hours, slept in the woods, left Fort Meade, walked approximately 3 miles along Rte 175 between two Dunkin Donuts, and planned to walk further to a local off-post library. His parents identified him missing from the house around 05:00. However, they didn’t contact us until about 08:30. Fortunately, based on training and information that some of my officers have received (including from Pathfinders), they were able to ask the right questions, develop the right plan, and identify the right methods to approach the boy to ensure we could reunite him with his family. Fortunately, we were able to locate him in less than 2 hours.”

LTC Jeff Knudson, Director of Emergency Services, Fort Meade, MD



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