UW LEND Program
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities
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Families As Mentors Program

Faculty Contact: Susan Adelman and Megan Goldenshteyn, PhD

The Families as Mentors Program (FAM) enhances fellows’ appreciation of the family experience of raising a child with a neurodevelopmental disability. The program offers UW LEND fellows the opportunity to learn directly from families through extended interactions and experiences that take place in the family’s home and community. The family is the mentor and teacher; the fellow is the learner and does not have any clinical role or responsibility to the family.


  1. To view families as teachers.
  2. To recognize and acknowledge biases, beliefs and privilege, and how these may affect the family-clinician relationship.
  3. To experience and appreciate the realities of raising a child with special needs.
  4. To develop leadership skills in promoting systems change among professional peers regarding family centered care.
  5. To recognize that services or recommendations that may appear to be critically important from a professional perspective may decrease in importance when viewed within the context of the family’s daily routines.

UW LEND Fellows enrolled in the FAM Program participate in:

  • The FAM Program Orientation (Core Seminar scheduled in October)
  • At least three visits with an assigned family and their child with a neurodevelopmental disability. The visits are jointly agreed upon by the family and fellow and may include such things as a family meal, a family outing, attending the child’ s swim lessons or therapy appointment, or a birthday party. Family visits are typically scheduled over the course of three academic quarters.
  • Scheduled discussion sessions with faculty mentors to share and reflect on the FAM Program experiences. There will be 4 sessions scheduled during the academic year.

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