Understanding and utilizing family-centered practices is a key part of the LEND program. The following experiences and activities increase Fellows' knowledge and skills as they learn and grow during their year in LEND. These activities tie into the LEND program competencies in the Family Culture, Leadership, and Technology areas. By the end of the program, Fellows get 35–40 hours in this category.
- Host Family Experience
Fellows build a relationship with at least one family outside the structured learning environment by spending time with the family throughout the program to understand the challenges families of children and youth with ASD/DD face in such areas as shopping, transportation, housing, education, and recreation. Family faculty matches Fellows to a host family. Fellows reflect on each interaction with their host family in an online journal and in seminar discussions. Fellows spend 25–30 hours during the year with their host family.
- Team Meetings
Fellows attend team meetings with their Host Family (e.g. educational. health care, community service). If possible, they attend an IEP meeting and or transition planning meetings (early childhood or youth 18–22) with their host family.
- Assistive Technology and Your Host Family
Fellows explore assistive technology during ATLA field trip during a face-to-face workshop, and share recommendations that may benefit their host family.
- Parent Directed Consultation
Three times during the program, a family with a child with special needs will come in to discuss their most pressing challenges with the Fellows. One Fellow will be the lead, and will coordinate a small team of Fellows who have expertise in the parent-identified topics of concern. During a session, this small group will problem-solve with the parents. All Fellows not part of the small group will observe and offer additional insights. After the session, the team will write up the team resources and ideas for the family.