The 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. Program goals include training healthcare providers, parents, educators, and others to improve the health of children and others with ASD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, genetic, and other disorders that affect their quality of life. The focus is timely diagnosis, early identification and intervention, effective services, transition to the workforce, and increasing participation in family and peer activities such as school and the workplace.
Each year, long-term trainees (graduate students from up to 11 different disciplines, family members, and self-advocates) receive 300 hours of training in nine months. The training 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 training culminates in presentations by trainees on their efforts.