HELPLINE NUMBER: (443) 330-5341

Our History

Pathfinders, Inc. (d/b/a Pathfinders for Autism) was established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in February 2000 by parents of children with autism, including Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer William “B.J.” Surhoff and his wife Polly Winde Surhoff.

After 18 months of development, Pathfinders for Autism (PFA) launched the Pathfinders for Autism Resource Center in 2002 – offering knowledgeable staff and a searchable online database to help families in Maryland find critical service providers quickly and efficiently.

In 2005, PFA was instrumental in the passage of first in the nation legislation aimed at improving early detection and autism screening practices in Maryland. The following year, PFA launched our hugely popular family recreational events, partnering with local attractions such as The National Aquarium in Baltimore, The Maryland Science Center, The Aberdeen IronBirds, Surfers Healing Ocean City, and Pump It Up Frederick.  

In 2007, PFA launched our Training & Education program focused on offering parents and professionals the opportunity to learn from experts in fields such as vocational rehab, behavior specialists, legal and financial professionals, and more. 

In 2011, PFA released our Autism by Age Navigation Guide after a multi-agency/organization work group provided information and content review. The guide lives on the PFA website and is utilized daily by PFA staff and professionals from organizations such as The Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore County Public Schools, Parents’ Place of Maryland, and more.   

In 2012, PFA began working with the Maryland State Police to offer their academy candidates a class on Understanding Autism. The class quickly gained traction and PFA was called upon by various law enforcement departments across the state to offer the training. Maryland passed a police training mandate in 2014, requiring all academies and active duty law enforcement to be trained on Interactions with Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities. PFA is the primary provider of this required training across Maryland. The success of PFA law enforcement training laid the way for expansion to Fire and EMS.

After a nearly five-year effort, PFA helped to pass regulation in 2014 requiring health plans sold in Maryland to cover autism treatment, making MD the 38th State to pass such a law. PFA offers Your Next Patient Has Autism, Are Your Prepared? training to local hospitals, medical and nursing school students, and dentists along with medical office support staff. 

In our nearly 20-year history, PFA has grown into the State’s largest autism organization dedicated to helping individuals with autism and their families. PFA has been awarded the Guide Star Gold rating, holds accreditation from the Standards for Excellence by Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, received the Governor of Maryland’s Citation in 2005 and 2018, the Baltimore County’s Executive Citation in 2004, and recognition from the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities in 2004 and 2017. We look forward to expanding the reach of our programs and working with partners to improve the lives of individuals with autism, their family members and those who care for them.

To learn more about Pathfinders for Autism’ resource center, training, awareness campaigns, safety initiatives and free family recreational activities please visit our Mission & Programs section and our News & Events section.

The Pathfinders for Autism Year End Accomplishments and 990 Forms are available via download, in PDF format, in our Year End Accomplishments and Financials section.


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