MUSC lands LEND grant to train providers in caring for developmental disabilities

Heather Woolwine

Oct. 5, 2011

MUSC lands LEND grant to train providers in caring for developmental disabilities

MUSC partners with USC, Greenville Hospital to create statewide program

CHARLESTON -- The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has been awarded a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services (Maternal and Child Health) to create a statewide program called South Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (SC LEND). This is the first LEND award for South Carolina, and is unique because it involves three training sites in order to link the state.

Available South Carolina statistics (2006) suggest that 8.6 per 1,000 children are identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this state, boys are 4.5 times more likely to have an ASD than girls, translating to 1 in 70 boys in SC who have an ASD. Despite better awareness, the average age of ASD diagnosis is four and a half years-old in SC, which is beyond the age of early intervention programs.

SC LEND is a partnership between MUSC, the University of South Carolina (USC) and Greenville Hospital System (GHS) that aims to establish a state-wide interdisciplinary training program to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and neurodevelopmental disorders (ND). The grant allows for more than 20 experienced faculty members from the three partner institutions to provide in-depth training to practitioners who serve children with autism spectrum disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders. The program is a year-long, intense schedule of clinical, classroom research and leadership training at the three LEND sites. The idea is to collectively bring the level of skill and competence up across the state in caring for these children.

"Nationwide, the numbers of children with ASDs and other developmental disabilities are on the rise. Estimates show a 57 per cent increase in the prevalence of autism and the CDC estimates that up to 17 per cent of children have special needs," said Michelle Macias, M.D., Pediatrics professor in the MUSC division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and the principal investigator for the grant. "One of the biggest problems is the dire lack of professionals to evaluate and treat children with disabilities, and that is specifically what the grant is designed to provide—including educational efforts for all health care professionals who care for children and their families."

SC LEND long-term trainees may be drawn from a wide range of professional disciplines including pediatrics, psychology, speech pathology, social work, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pediatric dentistry, psychiatry, neurology, genetics, special education, and more. SC LEND will also provide technical assistance and continuing education to community agencies, providers, and consumers. With assistance from MUSC’s Center for Academic Research and Computing and from the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium, many of SC LEND's activities will be widely disseminated using internet-based learning methods.

There are 43 LEND programs in 37 states nationwide, allowing for a collaborative approach to improve the care of children. In 2007, LEND programs were expanded to include the additional focus on autism and related developmental disabilities.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 11,000 employees, including 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.7 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit or