What to Expect

Find out what it's like to be a trainee

LEND sessions take place over two semesters, starting in August and ending in May. During that time, we focus on developing your skills in:

  • Leadership
  • Public health
  • Interdisciplinary clinical training and practice
  • Cultural competence
  • Family-centered care
  • Emerging issues
  • Research

Learning experiences include classroom teaching, interdisciplinary group activities, systems and policy trainings, clinical screenings, care coordination, a research or leadership project and faculty mentoring.

It all starts here.

Over the course of two semesters, you’ll complete a minimum of 300 hours of classroom, advanced clinical, community, and interdisciplinary leadership training. The following activities are important parts of the LEND training program:

  • Orientation: Friday prior to the beginning of the fall semester 8am to 4pm
  • Seminars and classes: Every week, Thursdays 4 to 7pm
  • Clinical sessions: Two times each month, Fridays 1 to 4pm
  • Monthly meetings: With your training coordinator
  • Tailored Leadership Plan (TLP): You’ll develop a TLP to plan your LEND time and pick personal goals
  • Clinical and community training: Including multiple visits outside of class time
  • Policy project
  • LEND project: Including a poster presentation of your project at the Open House in May


All trainees are required to attend a full day orientation on the Friday prior to the beginning of the fall semester. You’ll meet IL LEND core staff members, others trainees in your cohort, former trainees, and LEND faculty and staff. The orientation includes:

  • An overview of LEND and the program goals
  • An overview of the AUCD Network
  • An intro to MCH Bureau
  • Program requirements
  • A preview of the LEND curriculum


When you’re accepted to our program, we’ll send you materials to complete before orientataion. Don’t fall behind! Make sure to complete:

  • Frequently Asked Questions on Intellectual Disability and the AAIDD definition
  • Values in Disabilities Reading Assignment
  • LEND Trainee Demographic and Diversity Survey
  • LEND Leadership Self-Evaluation
  • LEND MCH Self-Assessment
  • MCH Navigator Self-Assessment
  • LEND Trainee Bio request
  • Pre-Clinical Assignment
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) Training
  • UIC Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) Training

In your first semester, you’ll participate in interactive seminars, trainee activities, presentations by professionals and family members, and in-person and web-based discussion groups. You’re encouraged to become familiar with technology and engage in problem-based learning. We’ll concentrate on:

  • Systems of care for individuals with disabilities at the national, regional, and local levels
  • Neurodevelopmental and related disabilities and the special healthcare needs of individuals with disabilities and their families
  • Cultural humility and competency including disability, age, gender, religion and culture
  • Critical analysis and evaluation of research and clinical practices as it relates to disability issues


DHD 505 LEND I Advanced Special Topics in Disability and Human Development
DHD 505 LEND I Clinical Session

Clinical hours

This is the start of your clinical experiences—the time you spend in community clinics, conducting family or school observations, writing evaluation reports, communicating evaluation results to families, and time spent with your faculty advisor is all recorded. You can also count your Friday clinical sessions. Your minimum amount of hours is dependent on your discipline:

  • Non-clinical trainees (disability studies, family, nutrition, public health, self-advocacy): 30 hours minumum
  • Clinical trainees (ABA, DBP, psychology, SLP, OT, PT, social work, nursing, special education): 80 hours minimum

Leadership/research project

Start thinking about and planning your leadership project now. This project can take the form of a research, advocacy, community engagement or policy.

You’ll be paired with a LEND faculty member or other community mentor who will help guide you in the project. You may choose to work independently or in small groups.

Activities vary widely depending on the project, but may include program development, data analysis, IRB applications, literature reviews, survey development, grant writing, program evaluation or other activities. You may either select a project from the leadership opportunities list available on Blackboard or select a project of your own design with the approval of your training coordinator.


  • Networking assignment
  • Tailored Leadership Plan
  • Evidence base assignment
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder screening
  • Medical home visit
  • Fall semester family visit
  • Fall semester report

Community hours

All trainees must complete a minimum 20 community hours over the course of the full training year. Opportunities for community engagement and volunteering are posted on a continuous basis to the Blackboard site. You should participate in community activities in at least five key areas:

  • Support group
  • Special education
  • Disability rights
  • Family home
  • Disability arts and culture

Check out these opportunities that our past trainees have participated in:


DHD 506 LEND II Advanced Special Topics in Disability and Human Development
DHD 506 LEND II Clinical Session


Don’t fall behind! Get these done in the spring:

  • ATU Observation
  • Interdisciplinary Care Coordination & Follow Up Assignment
  • Spring Semester Family Visit
  • Policy Brief
  • Leadership Research Project and Poster
  • Spring Semester Report & Assessments

Community hours

Remember to finish off your 20 community hours! Check out these opportunities: