Autism Awareness Night

March 1, 2012 by cpehrson

The number of children with autism has continued to grow for the past 15 years.  Utah’s rate appears to be higher than the national average that is 1 in 111.  The number of children identified with autism in Utah doubled from 2002 to 2008.  About two children per day were born with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2008. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 2011)

“It is our life,” states Laura Anderson, President-elect of the parent-run Autism Council of Utah and mother of a son with autism.  “If you think autism isn’t going to touch you somehow in your life, you are sadly mistaken. It’s in our communities. It’s in our schools. It will be in our workplaces.”

With autism becoming such a wide-spread disorder and touching so many lives in Utah, the Autism Council of Utah and RC Willey stores have joined up to sponsor Autism Awareness Night at the Utes Gymnastics Meet on March 9, 2012.  Free tickets are available at RC Willey stores or you can contact Laura Anderson for additional tickets at or call 801-936-1810.

Throughout the meet there will be information and videos shown about autism.  All families and friends of autism are invited to attend and support these efforts to raise the awareness of autism and other ASD conditions.


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Photo album: Temple Grandin’s visit

November 3, 2011 by JoLynne Lyon

Dr. Grandin lectures on animal psychology

The CPD and the College of Agriculture at Utah State University were two of many organizations sponsoring Temple Grandin’s visit to USU. We learned a lot from Temple, and we’ll write about that later. For now we’ll just say that her lecture, “All Kinds of Minds Need to Work Together,” was delivered to a packed ballroom at the Taggart Student Center. Attendees who couldn’t find a seat in the ballroom listened in at the Sunburst Lounge.

When Dr. Grandin spoke on animal psychology later that evening, it was to yet another full house.

Following are some photos taken at the luncheon, her tour of animal facilities at USU, the lectures and the book signing. We’d like to thank Kelly Smith for manning the camera.

Photo of Dr. Grandin

Temple Grandin. left, stands in front of a painting given as a thank-you gift for her visit. Also pictured is the artist's mother, Marylee Moreno.

Mariel Mureno and Scott McKendrick

The artist, Mariel Moreno, with her painting's human subject. Scott McKendrick is a known figure among horse enthusiasts in Cache Valley.

Temple Grandin and a sheepThe line included people in wheelchairs at the book signing

photo of a family

These attendees came as a family.

photo exhibit

The "1 in 110" photography exhibit by Christopher Gauthier takes its name from the statistical probability that a child will be diagnosed with autism. It provided a backdrop for the book signing.

Attendees crowded the ballroom.

At the book signing

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Brown Bag Discussion: CPD’s ASD Interdisciplinary Clinic

September 29, 2011 by cpehrson

“This is the place we should be doing this,” claimed one of the presenters at this month’s CPD Brown Bag discussion.

He was talking about the new ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Clinic that opened at the CPD earlier this year.

Dr. Martin Toohill, along with fellow clinicians George Wooten, Janel Preston, and Vicki Simonsmeier, shared with an interested audience how the concept of  developing an interdisciplinary team at the CPD evolved out of a brainstorming session during a URLEND training project.

“The idea of working in (medical) ‘teams’ is a relatively new concept in Western practices,” Wooten told CPD staff.  ‘What better place in Cache Valley to do this than here at the CPD where we have all the disciplines represented.”

The purpose of the ASD Clinic is to provide one place where parents can bring their child when they suspect signs of autistic behaviors and receive a diagnosis that denies or confirms their feelings…and do this in as efficient and thorough a way as possible.

Because autism encompasses a broad spectrum of symptoms, a single brief evaluation cannot predict a child’s true abilities or diagnosis.  The Clinic offers a best-practices interdisciplinary, one-stop, unified approach.  The team consists of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, an audiologist, and a care coordinator, all of whom are part of the CPD family.

Early intervention care coordinator, Janel Preston, said that the greatest complaint she hears from parents is that, during their child’s initial diagnosis, they had to ‘go around to see twenty different people, answer the same questions over and over again, and do this all in the same building.’

The ASD Clinic will eliminate those problems which will lessen the stress on parents and give the child a more thorough evaluation.  Along with the interdisciplinary diagnosis, parents will receive recommendations for treatment and intervention options.

The presenters were very excited and optimistic for the future of the ASD Clinic.  The next hurdle is to make it financially viable, and then “there is no limit to the direction this service can go!”


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Nutrition tips for children with ASD

July 15, 2011 by cpehrson

Professionals who work with children with ASD learned the important role nutrition plays in managing the challenging behaviors and sleeping problems that are often associated with these disorders.

Fifty participants attended a two-day workshop on Nutrition Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders at USU last month.  The workshop was led by Elizabeth Strickland, a registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition therapy for infants, children, and young adults with developmental disabilities, chronic illnesses, and special health care needs.

Strickland told participants that nutritional deficiencies can greatly affect a child’s behavior, sleeping habits, and even the child’s ability to function throughout the day.

She recommended a 10- step program to clean out the chemicals and sugar from the child’s diet, and then told them how to use supplemental vitamins and minerals to boost the body’s system.  Once a highly nutritional diet is established, the supplements can be stopped and the nutrients will be found in the food that is eaten.

Strickland went on to explain that young children should eat every 2-1/2 to 3 hours to maintain their blood glucose levels so they don’t crash and burn.  They need to feel hunger and should not “graze” all day long on food and drinks. She suggested that children be given a high protein snack before bed to help them sleep comfortably through the night.

Along with these basic nutritional guidelines, Strickland stated that feeding skills should be included into Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) because they are a life skill, much like walking and talking.

The Infant/Toddler Feeding workshops are annually sponsored by the CPD’s Up to 3 Early Intervention program.  For more information about these workshops, please contact Cathy Mace, registered dietitian for the Up to 3 program.

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Nutrition workshop for autism spectrum disorders

May 19, 2011 by cpehrson

Feeding problems can be a great challenge with children who have autism.  They may have oral sensitivities and react to different textures, tastes, and smells. Many children with autism develop odd ways of eating certain foods, for instance, picking the cheese off of their pizza, or eating the hamburger and bun separately on a hamburger.  Eating can be even more frustrating due to behavioral issues that often come with the disorder.

The Up to 3 Early Intervention Program at the CPD is holding a workshop for feeding professionals and parents on this very topic:  Nutrition Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Presenter will be Elizabeth Strickland, MS, RD, LD., a Registered Dietician specializing in integrative Nutrition Therapy for infants, children and young adults with developmental disabilities, chronic illnesses and special health care needs.

The workshop will be held on June 16 and 17, 2011 at the Innovation Campus, Space Dynamics Lab, 489 East 1650 North, in Logan, Utah.  Cost for participants for the two days is:  $150 for professionals & $50 for parents.  $175 late registration after June 2.

For more information and to register, contact Cathy Mace.

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