Now Accepting Va-LEND Applications Through June 1, 2017

Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) is recruiting applicants for the Fall 2017 LEND cohort.  Find out more about Va-LEND  here: brochure-2016-2017

To view the training schedule for 2016-17 click here: Va-LEND Training Schedule 2016-2017

Applications listed below.

Long Term Trainee, Autism Fellow, Advanced Medium Term Trainee: Va-LEND Application 2017

For more information regarding the Va-LEND program call 804-828-0073 and speak to Dr Beth Bader, Associate LEND Director.



Poster Presentations at 2015 AUCD Conference

Va-LEND faculty and trainees have just returned from attending the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. Amidst sessions, meetings, and receptions, several poster presentations were made by members of the Va-LEND program. Trainees presenting posters were Becky Balog, Samantha Costanzo, Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, and Sarah Nockengost. Faculty members Beth Bader, Marie Chapin, Carole Ivey, Elaine Ogburn, and Tracy White helped support these presentations.

Samantha Costanzo’s topic was “Age Differences in Fine Motor Milestones between Ghanaian and American Children” and Sarah Nockengost’s was “Locomotor Training in Children with Lower Extremity Paralysis.”

Va-LEND alumna Shannon Haworth presented a poster titled “Growing and Engaging Leaders: Creating the AUCD Alumni Network.” Here’s some additional information from Shannon on her project: “AUCD will be creating an alumni association for graduating and former trainees. It will include a member directory, groups, facilitated discussions, and a mentorship program. If you would like to be a mentor or want more information contact”


From left: Shannon Haworth, Marie Chapin, Elaine Ogburn, PC: Tracy White


May Leadership Projects

playing pictureThrough recent clinical experiences, Paige Knowlson (Occupational Therapy Trainee), observed that while clinically substantiated and user-friendly screeners existed for Speech Therapy, the equivalent was not currently readily available for Occupational Therapy (OT).   A screener can be used by health and education professionals to determine whether clients, aged 18 months to six years, would benefit from OT therapy services. The ideal screener is basic enough to be used across various disciplines, but targets the developmental milestones appropriate to determining if performance deficits exist within the OT scope of practice.  A screener was developed and pilot tested across disciplines to determine accuracy results and ease of use.  The screener was compiled in 6 month increments, and packaged with all necessary testing items.  It was distributed to three speech therapists, who utilized the testing measure across three age ranges. The screeners found it to be understandable, user friendly, and sufficient in determining the need for further OT evaluation.  This screening tool is continuing to be developed.

Equine Assisted Therapy

Rhonda Wilder, Nursing Trainee, devoted her leadership project to developing an Equine Assisted Therapy Resource Guide. Within the guide, she listed certified equine assisted therapy programs in Virginia, their target audience, contact information, cost, and description of services.  This guide can be found here and on our resource page.  Equine assisted therapy is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in people.

For her leadership project, Andreina Andueza-Croce (Physical Therapy runTrainee) explored the need for community based fitness programs for teens and young adults with disabilities to address decreased fitness levels and to promote healthy lifestyles.   The Tuckahoe YMCA addressed this need by creating a Pilot Fitness Program for Teens with Aspergers.  The main objectives of the fitness program were that the teens would learn fitness terms and concepts, gym etiquette, and would demonstrate general improvement in fitness.   The fitness program was held twice a week for eight weeks total; there were eight teens (ages 14-18) and five coaches in the program, including Andriena. As a coach, Andreina helped the teens gain independence with the fitness machines and provided a fun and safe environment to encourage the teens to continue participating in physical activity.  At the end of the eight weeks, post-fitness measures were collected and the teens demonstrated improvements in each of the fitness activities.  Not only did the teens show improvements in fitness levels, but the program also fostered friendships and socialization among the teens.