Missouri has a shortage of professionals who are trained to work with children with disabilities, especially those with autism. This shortage is especially significant in rural areas of the state where there are few therapists and health-related professionals, especially those trained in an interdisciplinary manner. Of particular importance is a need to improve training related to screening, evaluation, and diagnosis of autism and other disabilities. Project Goals: The overall purpose of Missouri LEND is to enhance outcomes for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities by training a wide range of healthcare professionals in evidence-based, interdisciplinary, family-centered, and culturally competent practices. The long-term outcome will be the improved health of infants, children, and adolescents who have, or are at risk for autism or other neurodevelopmental disabilities. To achieve this purpose the following three goals will be addressed: Goal 1: To equip a wide range of health care professionals to conduct best-practice interdisciplinary clinical care, assume leadership roles, and evaluate and conduct research focused on neurodevelopmental disabilities. Goal 2: To build capacity for high-quality health care services for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities through training and collaboration with practicing professionals, agencies, and families of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Goal 3: To generate and disseminate knowledge of best-practice healthcare for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities through research, technical assistance, and continuing education.
Missouri LEND will implement a comprehensive interdisciplinary training curriculum that builds core competencies in the following four categories: (1) Family centered/community-based care, (2) Policy/leadership development, (3) Autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities, and (4) Interdisciplinary care. Cultural competencies are prioritized as well.
Missouri LEND is a partnership with the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Missouri Kansas City Center for Excellence in Disability, the state Title V agency, and others. National collaborations include the Midwest LEND Consortium, the LEND Rural Workgroup, the NYU Langone Dental Medicine Postdoctoral Residency Program, and others.
The evaluation will assess outcomes such as increases in: the number and quality of university, state and community partnerships; skills needed to diagnosis or rule out autism; trainees serving MCH populations post-graduation; and demonstrated culturally competent leadership skills. Annotation: Missouri LEND will address critical personnel shortages and training needs by preparing a culturally diverse cohort of trainees from a variety of professional disciplines. Trainees will develop the competencies needed to assume leadership roles through a comprehensive interdisciplinary program that provides leadership training, clinical experiences, and research opportunities.