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Funded Projects

South Dakota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program

Grant Status: Completed

Training Category: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)

Project Director(s):

Eric Kurtz, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Center for Disabilities
Sanford School of Medicine
University of South Dakota
1400 W. 22nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD  57105
Phone: 605-357-1439


The provision of health-related services to children with special healthcare needs in SD is limited by a small population, large/rural geography, ethnic diversity and paucity of healthcare providers. The SD LEND Program trains professionals to serve children and their families.

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1: The SD LEND Program educates trainees to assume leadership roles in services for children with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, Special Healthcare Needs and Autism Spectrum Disorders (NDD, SHN & ASD). Objective 1: Upon completion of the program period, 55 graduate trainees will have completed the curriculum which includes leadership development, research methods, team building, cultural competency, family-centered services, legislative affairs advocacy, and interdisciplinary clinical training experiences. Objective 2: Upon completion of the program period, 15 Autism Trainees will have completed a year with special emphasis upon the diagnosis and management of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). They will also complete a research project and will participate in providing continuing education. Objective 3: Within five years of completion of the 60-month program period, 70% of the SD LEND graduates will be involved in leadership roles regarding the provision of services for children. Goal 2: The SD LEND Program will enhance the capacity of providers in the state and region to serve children with NDD, SCN & ASD through continuing education and technical assistance. Objective 1: Upon the completion of the 60-month program period, the SD LEND Program will have conducted at least five independent continuing education activities regarding children with NDD, SCN & ASD. Over 4000 professionals will have received education through opportunities offered by SD LEND faculty. Objective 2: The SD LEND Program will have participated in at least five continuing education activities regarding ASD. These may be conducted as independent programs or in conjunction with the Autism Clinic of the Center for Disabilities of the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota. Objective 3: SD LEND will enhance the knowledge of primary-care healthcare and related SD professionals in practice and training regarding the need for early developmental screening and early referral for diagnosis and management of those they suspect of having NDD, SCN & ASD. Goal 3: The SD LEND Program will promote collaborative relationships to enhance the care of children with NDD, SCN & ASD and their families in the state of South Dakota and the Upper Midwestern Region. Objective 1: The SD LEND Program will continue its previously established collaborative relationship with the SD Title V program of the South Dakota Department of Health. Objective 2: The SD LEND Program will continue to actively negotiate for improved systems of care for children with NDD, SCN & ASD in the state and region. Objective 3: The SD LEND Program will continue to pursue its ongoing collaborative relationships with LEND programs in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri through participation in the Midwestern LEND Consortium and will participate in the 2010-2011 Diversity in MCH Training: A Peer Learning Collaborative. Goal 4: Research and the pursuit of new knowledge and best practices will continue to be an integral part of the SD LEND Program at all levels. Objective 1: All SD LEND Trainees will be required to participate in didactic training in the basics of clinical research design and statistical analysis. Objective 2: All SD LEND trainees will be required to develop a research question, conduct a comprehensive literature review, develop a primary hypothesis, complete data collection, analysis of results and presentation of results at the annual SD LEND Awards/Poster Presentation. Activities/


The SD LEND Program is a graduate-level traineeship in which students commit 300 hours of study regarding the evaluation and management of children with neurodevelopmental disabiliites, special healthcare needs, and autism spectrum disorders. The training curriculum is comprised of the following components: l. a 3 credit-hour course regarding the interdisciplinary healthcare team which includes the "real-life experience" of shadowing a family of a child with special health care needs, 2. the SD LEND Leadership Seminar (may be taken for 2 credit-hours) which includes one seminar which discusses the topic of cultural sensitivity/diversity, 3. training in research methods and the completion of a research project, 4. participation in approximately 115 hours of clinical interdisciplinary training in the evaluation and management of infants and children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and special healthcare needs. In all aspects of training cultural competency and family-based services are emphasized. Trainees are requiered to participate in a minumum of 10 hours in two culturally diverse clinical training experiences and write a reflection paper. These reflections are reviewed by the SD LEND faculty and discussed with the trainee class during the Leadership Semiars. Three trainees per year participate as Autism Trainees and four under the Pediatric Audiology Award. One trainee per year is a second-year Leadership Trainee.


The SD LEND Program involves collaboration between the University of South Dakota (USD) Center for Disabilities of the Dept. of Pediatrics of the Sanford School of Medicine, other departments of USD, the Dept. of Nutrition and the School of Nursing of South Dakota State University, Augustana College, Sanford Children's Hospital and Specialty Clinic, Children's Care Hospital and School, the SD Dept. of Health, the Center for Disabilities Birth-to-Three Program and the Sioux Falls School District.


ogram evaluation is a continuous process which is overseen by the SD LEND Steering Committee and the SD LEND Evaluation Committee. Evaluation instruments are in place for the assessment of academic, leadership and clinical aspects of the training program by the trainees. Periodically, faculty are asked to evaluate the program using questionnaires, focus groups and the Self-Assessment Tool developed by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.