Maine LEND program well-represented at national disability conference

Photo of Emily Thomas and Kathryn Loukas posing in front of a research poster
Emily Thomas, M.S.O.T. ’23, and Professor Emerita Kathryn Loukas present at the AUCD national conference.

Representatives from the Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program at UNE recently presented three posters at the Association for University Centers on Disability (AUCD) national conference in Washington, D.C. 

Eileen Ricci, PT, D.P.T., M.S., PCS, LEND program director and clinical professor of physical therapy at UNE, joined the presenters at the conference, which showcases research from the national network of LEND programs and related university programs dedicated to improving quality of life outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

The Maine LEND program is a federally funded project providing interprofessional training to health care and service professionals, including graduate and doctoral students across the University. The mission of the LEND program is to support the health and community participation of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. 

Maine LEND representatives presented three posters at the AUCD conference, including one from UNE alum and former LEND occupational therapy trainee Emily Thomas, M.S.O.T. ’23, OTR/L, and her LEND mentor, Professor Emerita Kathryn Loukas, OTD, M.S., OTR/L, FAOTA. 

Their poster described a transdisciplinary playgroup hosted by LEND and both the occupational therapy and physical therapy degree programs at UNE. Alongside the description were the results of a study Thomas conducted with Kira Rodriguez, M.H.S., Maine LEND evaluator, on the perceptions of parents whose children participated in the group.

Audrey Bartholomew, Ph.D., associate professor of special education and Maine LEND training director, presented two posters. 

The first poster was given with Grace Vaughn, former LEND special education trainee, on an interprofessional training event entitled, “I’m an Educator Too: Creating Inclusive, Accessible Healthcare Spaces.” This training was supported by LEND and hosted by the Center to Advance Interprofessional Education and Practice at UNE and bridged the concept of universal design, a well-known inclusive framework in educational settings, to health care practice and settings.  

Bartholomew’s second poster described the results of a research study she conducted last spring in an undergraduate course in Special Education Law and Advocacy, in which she partnered with two teaching partners with disabilities who had expertise relevant to the course outcomes. She was joined by one of the teaching partners, Eric McVay, also faculty for the Maine LEND as the self-advocate mentor.

Audrey Bartholomew and Eric McVay