Two UConn School of Social Work students were recently named fellows of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program.
The fellowships seek to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities, by preparing trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields and by ensuring high levels of interdisciplinary clinical competence.
“It is incredibly rewarding to mentor students to be ready to enter the field to work with individuals with disabilities who are prepared to provide evidence-based services in interdisciplinary teams, and in a culturally grounded framework,” says Cristina Wilson, associate professor at the School of Social Work, and a coordinator for the program. “These students are ready to change the world, and the program gives them the leadership skills to do just that.”
The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program fellows for 2020-2021:
Allison D’Alusio (pronouns she/her/hers) is a second-year student in the individuals, groups and families concentration. Allison earned her bachelor’s degree at UConn in Disability, Human Growth & Rights and American Sign Language and Deaf Community Studies. She found her passion in disabilities studies while at UConn. “I’ve been lucky enough to work specifically with children and young adults with disabilities in various capacities and environments since 2016, inside and outside the classroom. I continue to love the work I do and strive to always use my education and my voice to advocate for individuals with disabilities,” says D’Alusio.
“I am wildly grateful to be a part of the LEND fellowship program to further my pursuit for advocacy and education in disability studies. I know I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg, but I cannot wait to see how this opportunity will help me and those I work with flourish.”
Shannon Hall (pronouns she/her/hers) is a first year MSW student also concentrating in individuals, groups, and families. “My long-term goal is to become a school social worker and LEND is already giving me so many tools to be a more competent, informed, and aware professional,” says Hall. After working in a school as a paraprofessional and various childcare settings, she wants to learn more about how interdisciplinary teams come together to help students with disabilities and special needs. Shannon says LEND is already giving her the opportunity to hear from many other disciplines like special education, public health, speech pathology, and audiology where they talk about how issues in the disabilities field might be applied in their discipline. Most amazingly however is the chance to hear from community members and family members on how living with a disability or raising someone with a disability has impacted them. This intimate experience is giving me a new perspective in which to understand the disability community that I look forward to applying in my professional career.
The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program is part of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and directed by Mary Beth Bruder, professor of pediatrics in the Neag School of Education. It is one of 52 programs across the country that focus on training future leaders from a wide variety of professional disciplines in order to improve the health care delivery system for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.