The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

CAC Corner: Is your character showing?

October 8, 2014 by Sue Reeves

By Mathew Bone Image of man with arms folded

Some disabilities have very visible clues, while others do not.

If we happen to see someone who is looking confused or uncertain, chances are we have an opportunity to help someone if we will just take the time to ask them if we can help. The confusion or uncertainty may not be related to a physical or mental disability, but it may be they are in an area they are unfamiliar with.

Either way, stopping to offer help shows our character. Willingness to take time, even if we are in a hurry, is something that lets people around us know what kind of a person we are. One thing I have learned is to not to be surprised at who might stop to offer help. Often people others would judge harshly will stop and offer assistance when we will hurry past.

Too often in our society the biggest disability we see is the social stigma disability or lack of caring disability. Both of these can be very severe disabilities that can become even more pronounced when they surface online. Sadly, they are the kind of disabilities that do not need to exist. They are entirely preventable and can be easily cured.

Society has done a great deal in recent years to change attitudes related to people with disabilities. That progress has not been easy, but it has been worthwhile. There is still work to be done, but at least at this point the conversations are happening that will allow the change to progress

One of the leading organizations in this change in Utah is the Center for Persons with Disabilities. Now, if you are wondering what you can do to help, stop by and see if there are opportunities to volunteer, or, when you see a person who looks like they could use a moment of your time, stop and ask.  You might make a great friend or help someone who could really use it.

Former CPD colleague Mark Huber dies

October 6, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of Mark Huber

Mark Huber

If you would like to honor Mark with your stories and memories, please share them in the comments below.

Mark Reuben Huber, 65, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the family cabin just outside of Evanston, Wyoming – one of his favorite places!

Mark was born in Brooks, Alberta, Canada, on March 17, 1949, as the second child of Reuben Nicholas and Emily Elizabeth Zaugg Huber. He had grand adventures with his siblings Warren, Curtis, Maria, and Morris and shared many tales of growing up on the farm in Rosemary and the life lessons learned. He loved his Canadian heritage.

As a 19-year-old Mark served as an LDS missionary in Chile and was thrilled last year when his son Michael received a mission call to Chile. Mark looked forward to the possibility of returning to Chile with his son.

Family was everything to Mark. He married Madlyn Hansen on Sept. 12, 1986, in the Logan LDS Temple. Mark was an honest and devoted husband who provided incredible support to his wife. Mark and Madlyn were blessed to adopt three children – Melissa (Sam) Anderson, Michael and Madison. His greatest focus was keeping his family together forever. He pondered deeply on these relationships. Mark loved and longed to live closer to his son and daughter from his first marriage – Jordan (Calgary, Alberta) and Charla (Victoria, BC) – and was honored to be called Grandpa by Charla’s beautiful daughter Soleil.

Mark gathered friends wherever he went. He reached out with confidence and wanted to know each individual’s story. Mark loved children – his own and everyone else’s. He had many young friends who enjoyed riding on his wheelchair and just chatting. Mark was a large man with an even bigger heart of gold. He sometimes acted tough, but anyone who stuck around found out quickly that it was all an act. He was willing to challenge all of us to do better, to be better, which was always what he expected of himself.

Mark loved learning and had a naturally inquisitive mind. He enjoyed posing questions that created discussion. He gained skills in a variety of occupations before settling into his career as a computer guru. He had amazing memories of working on a seismic crew in the Arctic, of driving a milk truck, of doing training at Hill AFB, and, of course, farming.

Mark graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s in plant science and a master’s in business information systems. In what he called his second chapter of life, he worked as a computer specialist at CPD at Utah State University. He was dedicated to his work and to the people he served. He officially retired on July 31 and had just started his next adventure.
Mark had a deep and abiding testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the atonement. He was stalwart and never wavered. His example was a beacon for many. It was the deep roots of his testimony that gave him the strength to endure the many health challenges he faced. If asked about his favorite church calling, it was always teaching, adults or children.

Mark is survived by his wife, Madlyn; his children, Jordan, Charla, Melissa, Michael and Madison; his granddaughter Soleil; his siblings, Warren, Curtis, Maria and Morris, along with many nieces, nephews and his extended Hansen family.

Mark’s family would like to thank Dr. Salisbury for his years of service to Mark and the individuals and emergency personnel who assisted his wife at the time of his passing. Because of Mark’s love of missionary work, a donation to the general missionary fund of the LDS church would honor him.

Funeral services will be at noon Monday, Oct. 6, at the Hyde Park 8th Ward Chapel, 480 N. 100 West, with a viewing from 10:30-11:30. There will be a viewing from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, at Nelson Funeral Home, 162 E 400 North in Logan. Interment will follow at the Smithfield City Cemetery. Condolences may be expressed online at


Students learn about voting

October 3, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of voting machine and people around it.

Sheri Newton from the Disability Law Center demonstrates a voting machine in the PEER classroom.

Sherie Newton from the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City visited the Project PEER (Post-secondary Education, Employment and Research) classroom at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities recently to teach the students about voting. Students from Aggies Elevated, a new program at USU this year for those with intellectual disabilities, also attended the session.

Newton explained that voting is all about choices, but what is chosen depends on what most people choose, not what one individual chooses. Voting is used to choose who will run our country, make laws and decide how money is spent.

She also explained age and residency requirements and absentee balloting. Students were given the opportunity to register to vote if they had a state-issued identity card.

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Interns gain skills in Clinical Services

October 1, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of adult and child at a table.

Speech-language pathology graduate student Brigid Crotty (right) administers a test to a young child.

The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University is an internship site this semester for four students who are working with the Clinical Services division.

According to Vicki Simonsmeier, one of the co-ordinators of the Autism Diagnostic Clinic, two doctoral students in psychology and two graduate students in speech-language pathology are currently completing internship hours.

The psychology students are a big part of case management and follow-through, Simonsmeier said. They are being trained on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), a commonly used assessment tool.

“The both want to work with students,” Simonsmeier said. “ The ADOS makes them very employable. They are now trained in all four modules. Not everyone comes out of their program with that.

The USU students present cases on Fridays during staff meetings and lead the discussions, pulling together the information from all the other assessments including physical therapy and occupational therapy evaluations.

The two speech-language pathology students are on a steep learning curve because they will only spend one semester at the CPD, Simonsmeier said, and they are both first-semester graduate students.

“They are so new into their programs and we plunk them in the middle of this team,” Simonsmeier said. “They are working on diagnostics and the correct interpretations. They also attend staffings and present their findings. They will leave here in a semester very skilled at administering 10 to 12 different standardized tests.”

Brigid Crotty, one of the SLP students, said she thinks her experience at the CPD will be beneficial because it is an interdisciplinary environment.

“Having the opportunity to work alongside professionals from different fields, such as psychology and occupational therapy, will give me a broader view of the different approaches to working with individuals with disabilities,” she said. “So far, the most important thing I’ve learned is to appreciate the gravity of a diagnosis, and really take the time to consider all options before arriving at a diagnosis.”

The students all have individual meetings with their supervisors every week for debriefing and one-on-one supervision and teaching.

“They will have a really good skill set when they leave here,” Simonsmeier said.


Student from Germany visits CPD

September 29, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Image of woman at table.

Jana Heckhoff participates in a clinical services meeting.

A speech-language pathology student from Germany is finishing a nine-week observation experience at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

“I wanted the chance to get out of Germany and see the world, and I preferred to come to the USA,” said Jana Heckhoff. She talked to one of her professors, who had a USU connection.

“She organized everything and made it possible,” Heckhoff said.

Heckhoff has observed assessments and classes at Sound Beginnings, as well as sessions at ASSERT and diagnostic evaluations at the Autism Diagnostic Clinic.

“It has helped me a lot,” Heckhoff said. “In Germany, we don’t really have much information about autism. The children go to special schools where all children with disabilities go. They are more hidden. I would not have had the opportunity to get this experience in Germany.”

Vicki Simonsmeier, who co-ordinates the autism clinic, said Heckhoff’s experience has been beneficial for everyone.

“She is really good, she asks great questions,” Simonsmeier said. “I’m so glad she had this experience, and that we did.”

Heckhoff said she wants to use the information she has learned at the CPD to work with children with autism in Germany.