Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

A Statewide Interdisciplinary Training Prorgam

The Illinois Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program prepares you to serve as a leader in improving the quality of life of children and families with neurodevelopmental disabilities, with a focus on autism.

An interdiscipinary experience

Stats and Facts

A group of LEND trainees at a volunteer event
What does LEND mean for you?
Find out how LEND can help you achieve your goal to improving lives.
and only LEND Program in Illinois
distinct disciplines offered
Our trainees come from all over the state, and even participate virtually
Three female LEND trainees at the Chicago Marathon. One is holding a prosthetic leg.
What it's like to be a LEND trainee
Our trainees regularly post on our blog and share their experiences
See what we're up to »

Who is a LEND trainee?

Whether you’re a graduate student, working professional, family member or self-advocate, you can be a LEND trainee

Your individual background and experiences offer unique perspectives on disability and help your fellow trainees gain a deeper understanding of each person’s role. With advanced interdisciplinary training, you’ll develop the skills in disability advocacy, research, community engagement and clinical settings that you need to promote positive change on all levels. LEND does this through:

  • Didactic and experiential learning
  • Clinical instruction
  • Leadership development
  • Policy and advocacy training
  • Community outreach
  • Individual tailored mentorship

Our disciplines

IL LEND brings together trainees across 15 disciplines to learn from each other. We prepare this diverse group to assume leadership roles in their respective fields.

  • Behavior Analysis and Therapy
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Disability Studies
  • Family
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Psychiatry
  • Public Health
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Social Work
  • Special Education
  • Speech-Language Pathology

One of the first programs with a self-advocacy discipline

Self-advocate Tia Nelis and friend at Disability Pride Parade


As trainees, self-advocates bring the disability point of view. They help give perspective in seeing the person, not the diagnosis, and help other trainees learn how to interact with people with disabilities. In LEND, self-advocates learn the medical point of view about disability and the different parts of being diagnosed, improving their ability to partner with professionals.

Learn about self-advocacy in LEND

Your career

LEND gives you the tools to advance and benefit your career regardless of your discipline or background. You’ll come out of the program with the skills to foster community-based partnerships, and integrate services between organizations, private providers and communities. As a trained leader, you’ll be prepared to promote innovative practices and improve healthcare delivery for children with developmental disabilities in any field.

You’ll also become part of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs.

Meet our partners

The IL LEND Program is housed in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has community and academic partners throughout the state.

Contact us

square logo of UIC AHS letters

We're here for you

Still wonder what the LEND fellowship can do for you? Reach out if you have questions about our program, and we’ll make sure you get the answers you need.

You can contact Janine Salameh at:


The Illinois LEND Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grant Number: T73MC11047-09-00