Maine LEND

members of the inagural Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related disabilities programThe Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program is a federally-funded project aimed at expanding resources to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (ND) in the state.

The program’s goals include training healthcare providers, parents, educators and others to improve the health of children and others with ASD. It will focus on timely diagnosis, effective services and transition to workforce and social integration at all ages. For children with complex cerebral palsy (CP) and other neuromotor disabilities, training will address early identification and diagnosis, provision of integrated clinical and community services, and increasing participation in family and peer activities such as school and workplace.

The Maine LEND Program training includes classroom and experiential learning, parent and provider conferences, and the visitation of key agencies throughout the state. Each year, long-term trainees from up to ten different disciplines (including family members) receive 300 hours of training over the course of nine months. This involves mentored experiences in clinical settings, classroom sessions and community experiences to learn best practices, interprofessional teamwork, leadership development and advocacy activities to prepare them to take on leadership roles in their respective fields.

The University of New England is collaborating with several community partners including Maine Medical Center, Maine General Hospital and Northeast Hearing and Speech in this effort. Specialists from all over the state serve as instructors, mentors, liaisons and role models. In turn, the LEND program strives to build and strengthen community and rural partnerships and engage underserved ethnic populations to deliver services and increase knowledge.