Let’s Talk! How techy is your child?

July 31, 2012 by cpehrson

The Let’s Talk! blog gives our readers a chance to let us know how they feel about the issues and concerns that affect the lives of people with disabilities and their families and to hear what others think.

New technology is being developed every day.  It is a part of almost every child’s life; from cell phones, to electronic toys and games.  Technology has even found its way into the classroom, helping teachers engage students who may learn best in other ways.

A growing number of families with children who have special needs are purchasing iPad tablet computers for their children.  There are many applications that are available that can be used to help children to communicate more easily and to build new skills.

In this Let’s Talk! blog, we would like to hear from our readers about:

What technology is your child using? 

How has it helped your child?

What apps would you recommend to other parents to try with their child?

Please share with us your experiences using technology with your child in the comment section below.



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Be smart & safe – wear a helmet

July 30, 2012 by cpehrson

“It’s uncomfortable; it’s hot; I look silly in one; I’m not going to fall, so I don’t need one; It will mess up my hair!”

You may have heard these reasons for not wearing a helmet while riding a bike, scooter or motorcycle, roller skating, or rock climbing.  In reality, there are  no good excuses for not wearing protective gear when you are involved in potentially risky activities.

Trauma to the brain can result even with a small impact. This can cause permanent injury to the brain, resulting in physical, behavioral, and cognitive damage, and even death.

Utah Law requires anyone under the age of 17 to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle or a low-power cycle such as mopeds, scooters, and various other 2-wheeled cycles.  Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of a serious brain injury and death because during a fall or collision, most of the impact energy is absorbed by the helmet, rather than your head and brain.

One of our own CPD colleagues, Dr. Mark Innocenti, knows first hand the value of wearing a helmet.  Here is his story in his own words, taken from a letter to the editor he sent to the Logan Herald Journal:

While riding in Green Canyon on the evening of June 22, I was in a bike accident that required a helicopter evacuation. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who were involved in assisting me post-crash…. I also want to highlight the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. I am an experienced bicycle rider and have ridden Green Canyon more times than I can easily count. This crash happened quickly and unexpectedly; just a small mistake. My helmet was shattered. The major ribs of the helmet all were broken and the outside severely beaten. I never lost consciousness. My prognosis is good; a few months in a back/neck brace and return to normal activities. Without the helmet I would have had a traumatic brain injury. Be smart; wear a helmet!

We are so thankful that Mark was wearing a helmet.  We echo his words:  Be smart!  Wear a helmet!  Have a safe summer!

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My other life: Kelly Smith at home on the range

July 27, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Some people spend their vacations relaxing. And then there’s Kelly Smith. Here, she is the information specialist at the CPD. On vacation, she goes on to work at the T Cross Dude Ranch in Wyoming. Which leads to the first interview question:
Q: WHY would you choose to spend so much of your vacation working at a ranch and sleeping in a sheepherder’s wagon?
Answer: Horses….
a herd of horses in a corral
Adventure. Bears…
a grizzly on its hind legs
Raw, untamed wilderness…
Photo of snowcapped mountains with a horse's head in the foreground
No internet. Adrenaline. Cowboys. Wildlife. Great photo opportunities. Challenge.Photo of two riders, one with a bull whip in mid snap

Enough said, I think the photos explain it. And the sheep camp wagon is very comfortable and efficient, thank you.

Q: Is there more to the job?
Answer: It’s a wonderful excuse to spend hundreds of miles riding through breathtakingly beautiful, remote country every summer. The Absaroka mountains soar over 13,000 feet around the ranch and lead into the Washakie Wilderness. (That’s the largest  wilderness area in the continental United States without roads.) These mountains have been carved naturally by water, wind, and glaciers, and horseback is the only way to experience this country. I feel lucky every day I’m there.

Additionally, the T Cross Ranch hosts guests from all over the world and most of them are quite interesting and fun. The work with the horses and cowboys is an escape from everyday reality into a world that vanished a long time ago. It’s hard work, but I love it.

Riders follow a creek with Cathedral Peak in the background.

Kelly sleeps with her hat over her face. Several cowboys with rifles crouch behind her.

Kelly sent this photo to her mother, assuring her that she's safe in the wilds of Wyoming. Her mother wrote back to say she'd quit worrying.

“My other life” is a recurring feature that highlights CPD employees away from their desks. We will return to our regular programming in the fall.


How well do you know the ADA?

July 26, 2012 by cpehrson

July 26th  is the Anniversary of the ADA,  often viewed as the Civil Rights Act for people with disabilities. This Act has changed and improved the lives of millions of people with disabilities and their families through the years.  It is a day worth celebrating!

How much do you really know about the ADA?  Here’s a chance to test your knowledge.  See if you can answer these questions:

1.  What do the letters ADA stand for?

2.  What year was the ADA first enacted?  What president signed the ADA into law?

3.  Can you name three areas that the ADA addresses to improve the lives of people with disabilities?

4.  What do you think is a barrier for people with disabilities that the ADA still needs to address?

5.   Does the ADA just apply to the states, or does it also apply to the territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)?

6.  Can you name one way that the ADA has improved the work environment for people with disabilities?

7.  What do you think is the most important issue addressed by the ADA?

Thanks for taking this little quiz!  How did you do?  You can listen to the CPD’s Gordon Richins interview on Utah Public Radio to mark the anniversary and learn how the ADA has helped him.

If you would like to learn more about the ADA , there are some great web sites you can visit:

  • For more information about the ADA, go to the government’s ADA website.
  • For answers to some interesting questions about the ADA, this is a great website.

ANSWERS to the quiz questions:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act
  2. 1990/President George H.W. Bush
  3. For example:  equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.
  4. Some ideas: accessible technology, including the internet, service dogs, barriers to people with sensory impairments (vision, hearing).
  5. The ADA applies to states and territories,
  6. For example:  work place makes reasonable accommodations such as accessibility, flexible hours, a different chair.
  7. Your opinion.


Act Early: When you disagree with your pediatrician

July 25, 2012 by admin

This is the second article in a series on overcoming barriers to early intervention.

photo of a serious boyby Utah’s Act Early Ambassador Tracy Golden

In our first installment, Utah’s Act Early ambassador explored the barriers a parent might experience before recognizing the need for early intervention.

Now she addresses the question: what happens when parents believe their child has a developmental delay, but their pediatrician disagrees?

Let’s wait and see

Sometimes pediatricians tell  parents their fears and concerns are not warranted.  Many parents with a child who is later diagnosed with a developmental delay were at one time told that what their child was experiencing was “normal” and the recommended strategy was to “wait and see.”

This advice is heartbreaking to parents who then lose several years of early intervention services to well intentioned providers who did not recognize the early warning signs of delays.

Pediatricians are well trained in the medical treatment of children, but sometimes they have less expertise in recognizing the more subtle signs of a developmental delay.  Due to the typical length of a pediatric visit, they may not have the opportunity to observe the behaviors the parent is concerned about.

When parents are faced with this dilemma, there are a number of steps they can take.  First, they can bring materials to their doctor that describe in a more objective format their concerns (see the Milestones Moments materials below).  Second, they can obtain feedback from teachers and babysitters to bolster their case about their concerns.  Third, they can request a longer visit with the pediatrician. During that appointment they can simulate the conditions which may evoke the behaviors they are concerned about.

If continued dialogue with the pediatrician is not fruitful, they should seek a second opinion.  As good consumers of healthcare, it is perfectly reasonable for a parent to want to seek services elsewhere if they do not believe their concerns are being adequately addressed.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a website through which parents can learn more about developmental milestones, healthy child development and the early warning signs of delays.  Free, parent-tested materials are available for ordering, or can be viewed online and printed by parents.

Dr. Tracy GoldenComing up: Additional concerns after the diagnosis

Previously in this series: Learning to recognize the need

Dr. Tracy Golden is Utah’s  Act Early Ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) “Learn the Signs. Act Early” program. Its mission is to improve early identification practices for those providing services to very young children.  Golden received her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Utah and has a private clinical practice for teens and adults with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. She is also a staff member at the CPD.

For additional resources in Utah, please see:

Utah’s Act Early  and  Help Me Grow webpages.



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