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Funded Projects

Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

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

Project Director(s):

Sharon Milberger, ScD
Project Director
Wayne State University
4809 Woodward Avenue
268 Leonard N. Simons Building,
Detroit, MI  48202
Phone: (313) 577-2654


Nationally, there is a need for more highly qualified professionals who have knowledge and experience in the use of evidence-based practices to meet the complex needs of infants, children, and adolescents with neurodevelopmental and other related disabilities, including autism (ASD/DD). Michigan shares this need and also has a number of unique regional and local needs related to geographic, demographic, and economic factors. Major metropolitan areas of Michigan (e.g., Detroit and Flint), have culturally-diverse populations and profound concentrations of families living in poverty. Large regions of the state, particularly the Upper Peninsula and the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, are rural and sparsely populated, affording families limited access to needed diagnostic and treatment services. With a population of more than 9.9 million people, Michigan is the 10th largest state in the U.S. and the largest state that does not have an existing LEND program. The proposed MI-LEND ("My LEND") program is a consortium of six universities (Wayne State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, and University of Michigan- Dearborn) that spans the state and serves in excess of 181,800 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. MI-LEND will work in collaboration with Michigan's Title V program (Children's Special Health Care Services), the Governor's Autism Council, the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other key statewide disability/advocacy organizations. As such, the MI-LEND program is poised to significantly expand interdisciplinary leadership training opportunities for graduate-level trainees from a wide variety of professional disciplines. MI-LEND's purpose is to address the complex needs of those with ASD/DD by: 1. Increasing the number of graduate/doctoral/postdoctoral students, family members, and individuals with disabilities prepared to address these needs; 2. Increasing the number of providers available to diagnose and treat these needs; 3. Enhancing the clinical expertise and leadership skills of practicing professionals to address these needs; and 4. Ensuring integration of family-centered perspectives into every level of the program including curriculum development, training, and program evaluation. The MI-LEND curriculum will integrate L.I.F.E. (Leadership, Interdisciplinary, Family- Centered, and Equity) perspectives into all program activities to prepare graduate-level trainees to assume leadership positions in academia, clinical practice, public service, and advocacy organizations centered on ASD/DD. During the five-year program, a minimum of 85 long-term MI-LEND trainees will each complete at least 300 hours of combined didactic, clinical, community, and leadership activities. MI-LEND will also train an additional 200 medium-term and 1,500 short-term trainees over the project period. MI-LEND will provide continuing education workshops, seminars, and distance learning activities at local, state, regional, and national levels. Workshops, professional meetings, and publications in professional journals are the vehicles for dissemination of program products. A comprehensive evaluation plan with performance measurement data will be used to assess both process and outcome components.