Mary W. Parker Autism Center at the Institute of Living

About Us

Established in 2022, the Mary W. Parker Autism Center at the Institute of Living aims to provide comprehensive, evidence-based, multidisciplinary care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)* throughout the lifespan. Our mission is to serve individuals, families, and communities throughout Connecticut through high-quality direct clinical service provision, research, and education.

We offer

  • Comprehensive psychological and psychiatric diagnostic evaluations for ASD
  • Individual outpatient therapy
  • Medication management services
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Consultation services

Our team of healthcare professionals has specialized skills in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as co-occurring mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.

* The Mary W. Parker Autism Center uses both person-first (e.g., “person with autism”) and identity-first (e.g., “autistic person”) language to reflect the diversity of opinions regarding terminology within the autistic community, and respects individual patient preferences with regard to terminology.

What We Do

Diagnostic Evaluations for ASD

  • Psychological and psychiatric diagnostic evaluations for ASD using best-practice tools (e.g., ADOS-2), cognitive testing, and assessment of co-occurring symptoms and adaptive behavior
  • Comprehensive reports and treatment recommendations
  • Structured feedback sessions

Outpatient Therapy

Accepting referrals for children, adolescents and adults seeking individual outpatient therapy. Our providers specialize in evidence-based cognitive behavioral approaches to treatment of symptoms often presenting in individuals with ASD, including:

  • Anxiety (social and generalized anxiety, OCD, specific phobia, panic)
  • Depression
  • Social Skills
  • Transition to adulthood and independent living skills

Medication Management

  • Accepting referrals for children, adolescents, and adults seeking ongoing medication management services for treatment of psychiatric symptoms associated with a diagnosis of ASD

Speech-Language Pathology

  • Evaluation and treatment of speech and language disorders and symptoms that often present among autistic individuals

Who we are

Michal Assaf, MD

Director of Research, Mary W. Parker Autism Center

Dr. Assaf earned her M.D. at Tel Aviv University in 2000 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Yale University. She then joined the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living (IOL) in 2004 and established the Autism and Functional Mapping (AM-FM) lab. Since 2022, Dr. Assaf serves as the Research Director for the Mary W. Parker Autism Center at the IOL.

Dr. Assaf’s research is focused on understanding the neural organization underlying the social and emotional cognitive process in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. By applying advanced neuroimaging analysis methods, such as dynamic functional connectivity and machine learning, she explores the heterogeneity in behavioral phenotypes and their underlying neural mechanisms, with the aim to implement and optimize interventions based on neural target engagement. Dr. Assaf’s research has been funded by several National Institutes of Mental Health and private foundations grants.

Mara De Maio

Mara DeMaio, PhD

Director of Child and Adolescent Services
Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital

Dr. Mara De Maio is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her BA from the University of Michigan and her PhD in Clinical Psychology from St John’s University.  She is currently the Director of Child and Adolescent Services at the Institute of Living (IOL) at Hartford Hospital, where she has worked since 2010. In her role, she oversees all child and adolescent ambulatory programs, ACCESS Mental Health, the Grace Webb therapeutic schools, and has administrative oversight of the Mary W. Parker Autism Center.

In addition to her role as a Director at the Institute of Living, Dr. De Maio also is involved in various initiatives and councils across the Behavioral Health Network (BHN). Prior to her role as a Director at the IOL, she was the program manager of two partial hospital programs for adults with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses. Her background consists of both direct care and leadership roles with children, adolescents and adults at multiple different levels of care, including inpatient, partial hospital, and outpatient settings. Some of Dr. De Maio’s areas of interest and expertise are in individual, family and group therapy as well treatment for trauma, affective disorders, developmental disorders, borderline personality disorder, and psychotic disorders.  She is also dedicated to work related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.

Amelia Donahoe M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Ms. Donahoe received her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Marywood University in 2017. She went on to complete her Clinical Fellowship in a public school setting in Bridgeport, CT. Upon receiving her Certificate of Clinical Competence, Ms. Donahoe moved to Maine where she worked in both the public school setting and in private practice as an independent contractor. Ms. Donahoe has worked extensively with autistic individuals in both the public and private sector, evaluating and treating receptive, expressive, and pragmatic (social) language disorders. She has experience working with non-speaking individuals who communicate with Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) and believes in using a total communication approach to language therapy. In November 2020, Ms. Donahoe was granted an Award for Continuing Education by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for her commitment to learning and continues to study neurodiversity affirming practices.

Lovejit Kaur, MDLovejit Kaur, MD


Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Institute of Living/Hartford HealthCare
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Dr. Lovejit Kaur is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, who graduated from combined child/adolescent and adult psychiatry residency program from University at Buffalo, NY. She served as a chief resident of the ambulatory program during her residency training. She further trained as a fellow in consultation Liaison psychiatry at Montefiore medical center/Albert Einstein college of medicine in New York City, where she worked with patients having complex medical and psychiatric problems. Dr. Kaur is fluent in English, Punjabi and Hindi, and enjoys working with patients from diverse backgrounds.
At Mary W. Parker autism center, Dr Kaur provides assessment and treatment of mental health disorders associated with Autism spectrum disorder, and specializes in psychopharmacological management. She has background of working with patients on Autism spectrum at various levels of care including inpatient, emergency room and medical floors. Dr Kaur also provides clinical care at Grace Webb therapeutic school.

Robert Sahl, MDRobert Sahl, MD

Medical Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Services, Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Dr. Sahl completed his MD at Vanderbilt University, and subsequently completed pediatric training at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH, as well as general psychiatry residency and child/adolescent psychiatry fellowships at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Sahl has over 30 years of experience in child and adolescent psychiatry, with much of this work focused on assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with a range of neurodevelopmental disorders including ASD and intellectual disability. At the Mary W. Parker Autism Center, Dr. Sahl provides psychiatric evaluation and medication management services for patients as well as contributing to our training mission through work with psychiatry residents and fellows.

Isaac Smith, PhD

Psychologist, Mary W. Parker Autism Center

Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2020. He completed his predoctoral internship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Dr. Smith also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine focused on dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions for anxiety in youth.

Dr. Smith has expertise in interdisciplinary diagnostic evaluations for ASD and co-occurring disorders. Other areas of clinical specialization include adaptations of cognitive-behavioral therapies for autistic individuals, with a particular emphasis on the treatment of co-occurring anxiety and depression in adolescents and adults. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Smith also maintains a program of research focused on presentations of co-occurring anxiety, depression, and emotion regulation difficulties in autistic individuals as well as the development, evaluation, and implementation of evidence-based interventions targeting co-occurring symptomatology in ASD.


The Mary W. Parker Autism Center’s Research Program works in conjunction with the Institute of Living’s Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, the Anxiety Disorders Center and the Clinical Trials Unit, to conduct studies that aim to improve our understanding of ASD and related conditions. Our main goals are to develop and improve personalized treatment options for individuals with ASD across the lifespan based on robust neuroscientific research evidence.

See below for studies currently recruiting participants and to read about how you can help!

Social Emotional Processing in Adults with ASD

This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIMH) and aims to improve understanding of social and emotional processes in adults with autism. You may be eligible to participate in this study if:

  • You are on the autism spectrum (including previous diagnoses of Asperger’s or PDD-NOS)
  • You are fluent in English
  • You are between the ages of 18-40

Participants complete interviews, cognitive tasks, and questionnaires, as well as 1-2 MRI brain scans. Total participation takes approximately 10-12 hours across 3-4 visits, and participants are eligible for up to $250 in compensation.

To learn more and see if you may be eligible, click the button below:


Additional Resources

The below websites provide high-quality information and resources focused on supporting autistic individuals and their families:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – Basic Information about ASD, including screening and diagnosis and treatment information, fact sheets, and research related to ASD.

Autism Services & Resources Connecticut (ASRC) – Facilitates advocacy, training, and family support throughout the state of Connecticut. ASRC offers a professional resource guide, regular events, and in-person and virtual support group meetings.

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) – Organization working to advance disability rights with regard to autism, including policy and legal advocacy related to research priorities, community engagement, and other domains in keeping with their motto: “Nothing About Us, Without Us”

Autism Speaks – Promoting solutions for individuals with autism throughout the lifespan, improving understanding, acceptance, and support, and funding a range of research into autism symptoms and treatments

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) – Federal advisory committee aiming to exchange information and facilitate coordination of federal and public agencies and organizations conducting work related to ASD.

Referrals/Contact Us

  • Referrals

    Click here

  • For information and appointments

    Mary W. Parker Autism Center
    200 Retreat Avenue
    Hartford, CT 06106
    Phone: 860.545.6187
    Fax: 860.545.7650