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Interdisciplinary Study of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities I & II (SC LEND Core Curriculum Course)

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Online curriculum overview [download]
SC LEND course overview [download]

Briefly describe the activity and its purpose.

This course creates a standardized curriculum for SC LEND long term trainees, and is designed to facilitate interprofessional / interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding, build knowledge of disorders that first manifest during childhood, and build leadership skills (e.g. cultural competence, systems of care, ethics, research, etc). The course works in an asynchronous format in which trainees interact with each other during forum discussions and problem-based learning cases.  Trainees are encouraged to discuss questions and cases by bringing their own specific experiences based on their profession, training, and personal experience.  This format allows for diverse discussions about many different aspects of specific disabilities and challenges; this includes medical, policy, advocacy, and ethical issues.  This type of training offers trainees not physically co-located the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary groups, experience different perspectives and approaches to problems, and discuss challenges that may not have come up in their particular discipline.  Ultimately, the course aims to provide a foundation to interdisciplinary collaboration within long-term trainees' personal practices and highlight the importance of the family and other professionals' perspectives in the care and services for children with developmental disabilities.

What are the expected learning outcomes for trainees?

The expected learning outcomes include in-depth knowledge of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Other outcomes include learning to work in interdisciplinary teams to discuss cases and increasing leadership skills within those discussions and ultimately as part of interdisciplinary clinical teams. Furthermore, the course seeks to increase trainee knowledge regarding policy, advocacy, legal, and ethical issues that will increase their ability to advocate for patients and families within their own practice - locally, regionally, and nationally.

Briefly describe the positive impacts this activity has had on trainees.

The course has received very positive feedback over the four years it has been a part of the training program. SC LEND trainees responded positively to the flexibility of the course as well as the interdisciplinary nature of the activities. Overall, trainees felt the forum questions and discussions provided the most beneficial learning, with lectures and reflection activities next most impactful. Evaluations of the course have been consistently positive across all years. Post SC LEND graduation, trainees continue to access the course and lectures to help aid in their practice and careers.

Briefly describe any lessons learned or challenges associated with implementing this activity.

An initial challenge associated with this course was faculty discomfort with the technology used (Moodle). And in the beginning, we also struggled to appropriately balance faculty expertise with essential topics. Although flexibility was seen as a positive by many trainees, flexibility also requires organization and ability to independently dedicate the appropriate amount of time to the course. As an asynchronous course, it can be hard to assure that participants of varying experience benefit equally. Specifically, more advanced trainees (e.g. psychology post-doctoral students, DBP fellows) are in the same groups as those just beginning their graduate school career.

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