The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Food extravaganza helps picky eaters explore

July 14, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Therapist Amy Henningsen works with a child at the picnic

Special picnics for  picky eaters are just one of the fun community activities being held in July by Up to 3 to help accommodate varying summer schedules for families. According to Amy Henningsen, occupational therapist, the picnics are a fun way to encourage food exploration.

“We work on progressing in textures, from moist to dry, from smooth to rough, and we work on what kids will put on their plate or ways they will handle food. For instance, will they hold something by their mouth, will they try to blow a bugle, and then maybe they will move on to eating it,” said Henningsen.

The food extravaganza is all about engaging the children in a variety of behaviors focused on food. Activities like washing their hands, loading plates, or passing food  and utensils to others help children learn, and the activities can be a lot of fun. Finger-painting with pudding, building trains and rainbows with food, and bringing food near the nose to simulate whiskers or clown noses are just a few of the fun activities to help kids progress.

“There are a lot of steps to eating, 28 specific steps actually. Often, parents are really concerned about their kids and they are a lot further along than they think. Will they sit at the table? Will they tolerate food on their plate? Will they touch the food? It’s all part of learning,” said Henningsen. Read more about strategies to help children in food exploration and feeding development here.

The mission of the Up to 3 Early Intervention Program is to promote the development of children, under the age of 3, who have any type of disability or developmental delay and to provide services to children and families living in Cache, Box Elder, and Rich Counties. Other community activities for Up to 3 families in July include splash pad play, adaptive aquatics, miniature golf, Duck Day at Logan Canyon, and a fire station tour.

Child at the picnic Child at the picnic Child at the picnic

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Disability visibility is important this election year

July 5, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Americans with disabilities are the largest minority group in the nation. This election year, they want their voices heard and their questions answered.

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Watch the CPD demolition in one minute!

June 30, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Thanks to the talents of CPD staff member Jared Smith, you can watch the entire demolition of the CPD in one minute. One second of video is 45 minutes in real time. At :13 and :26, you can see the moon streak across the sky.


URLEND trainee exchange: Alaska

June 21, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Through the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program (URLEND), trainees  from  different  disciplines  are given the opportunity to attend  an exchange experience in another PacWest LEND program.  The  exchange  experience  includes  a  full  agenda  meeting  different leaders and touring a variety of organizations involved in the care of children and youth with special health care needs. These experiences  allow trainees to compare and contrast how different programs function in different geographic regions. It also allows trainees to meet strong leaders from different fields in different systems, states, and cultures, who are caring  for  children  with  special  health  care  needs  and  their  families. Financial support for these exchanges is provided by  LEND program sending the trainee.  Following is a photo journal by trainee Katie Ahlers about her experience.

Katie Alaska-1

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Former Division Director, Richard Roberts, dies

June 17, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Richard Roberts

Dr. Richard N. Roberts, director of the CPD Research and Evaluation Division from 1989-2010, passed away June 10, 2016 in Utah. Roberts’s career focused on children with special needs and their families, and he worked closely with the Maternal Child Health Bureau on many projects. During his time at the CPD, he published 3 books, 10 monographs, and was the principal investigator of 10 multi-year multi-site projects within the Early Intervention Research Institute, as well as directing numerous other state and regional projects. Prior to coming to Utah, Roberts was the director and founder of the Preschool Education Program for Native Hawaiian children in Honolulu.

In 2000, Roberts was presented the Outstanding Achievement Award by the American Association of University Affiliated Programs. The previous year, he was recognized by the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University as the Scholar/Researcher of the Year.

A memorial service will be held July 29 at 5:00 p.m. at the Logan First Presbyterian Church, 178 West Center, Logan Utah. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Richard’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association.  A complete obituary is available here.

Co-workers share some memories below.

“Rich will be forever be one of my greatest mentors but also my hero during the 9/11 tragic events.  We were attending a MCH Tri-Regional meeting in Arizona during that time.  Everyone was wanting to get home to their loved ones and I will say they we were truly blessed that we were only one state away from home but none the less, no one knew at that time when it would be safe for the airlines to be up and running again.  As one of the many family leaders attending, my sole mission was to get back to my family and especially very medically complex and fragile son!  Thankfully Rich had rented a car while he was staying in Arizona for the meetings but when he called to ask if he could keep it and drive it back to Utah, the agency said, ‘absolutely not, it needed to be returned immediately!’ Well……….. this is one time that I am so grateful that someone BROKE the rules and I guess would even say stole a car regardless of what the penalties would be to get four of us back home safely.  Rich was always a champion for true family involvement and was always helping me gain the skills and information needed to make a difference but in this case he proved to be more than a mentor, he recognized the extra anxiety of having a child with special health care needs put on the tragic events and took action!  Rest in peace Rich, and I want your family to know that you made a difference in many lives of families of children with special health care needs!” –Gina Pola-Money, Utah Family Voices.  

“I had the pleasure of working with Richard during his entire time here at the CPD.  He was the Director of the Division and I was the Associate Director.  Richard was a great colleague. His work to improve services for children with special needs and their families significantly improved services and was groundbreaking for the field.  His early work on home visiting, prior to coming to Utah, helped improve our understanding of the practice.  As our Director, he was always ready to help with project planning and went out of his way to assist staff with any problems that arose.  It was sad that Alzheimer’s cut his career short.  I will always remember our years working together positively. ” –Dr. Mark Innocenti, CPD.

“I really appreciated Rich introducing me to key people in the state when I first began at the CPD. He was a good colleague and very supportive and helpful in the development of our first LEND application.” –Dr. Judith Holt, CPD.

“I have worked with Richard since he became the Director of the Research and Evaluation Division at the CPD in 1989 to his retirement in 2010. Richard has had an amazing sense of humor, which he demonstrated on more than one occasion. The one that really comes to mind is when he bought me a cowboy stripper for my 30th birthday! That is still talked about by our staff! When Alzheimer’s took most of his memory, I showed him the video of this event, and it brought a smile to his face and he replied, “I remember.” Richard was a great team leader, but what really impressed me was he compassion and devotion to the health and welfare of Native American children and children with disabilities. He was not only my boss, but more importantly, he was my friend.” –Mary Ellen Heiner, CPD.