Assistive technology for infants & toddlers-training

February 1, 2012 by cpehrson

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, Assistive Technology and Early Intervention Part 2, on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
This free training, presented by Amy Henningsen, will cover additional assistive technology ideas for early intervention including: positioning, mobility, adaptive play, computer access, and activities of daily for feeding and bathing that are available commercially and/or customized.
Amy Henningsen is an occupational therapist for the Utah Assistive Technology Program as well as the Up to 3 early intervention program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. Also, she is certified in Neurodevelopmental Treatment in Pediatrics and as an Assistive Technology Practitioner. She has over 30 years of experience working with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings.
In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access.   If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Monday, February 13, to Storee Powell via email, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.
If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or,no later than Thursday, February 10 to make arrangements to participate via phone. If you need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training please let Sachin know by this date also.

Tags: , , , , ,

CPD Legacy Story: Laura Oppermann

January 18, 2012 by cpehrson

This CPD Legacy Story is written by Laura Oppermann and is about the support she has received from CPD programs through the years for her son, Christoph.  Laura is the parent partner at Budge Clinic Pediatrics Medical Home, coordinates Medical Home Care with Intermountain Healthcare, and is currently a service coordinator for the CPD’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Diagnostic Clinic. 


Laura, long blonde hair with wonderful smile, hugging her son, Chris, little boy in overalls

Laura with Chris

Moving to a new place with a young child with severe disabilities and on-going medical needs can be daunting.

We decided to move from Germany to Logan when our son, Christoph, was two and a half.  His health was very fragile.  Surgeries, evaluations, treatments, as well as emergency ambulance rides were part of our routine. Our beautiful boy had significant needs and we needed to connect with physicians and early interventionists immediately upon arrival. We would have a 6-month waiting period for insurance, and I didn’t know how a major pre-existing condition might impact our coverage or ability to qualify. Needless to say, we were nervous.

A family member suggested I call the Center for Persons with Disabilities. I remember connecting with an informed, compassionate woman in the Up to 3 Program on the phone. I was so relieved to find someone who understood and could answer my questions! She let me know that following an evaluation, my son could receive home therapy services through their program. She listened to my concerns about getting insurance and directed me to Health and Human Services to ask about an insurance program I had never heard of before, called Medicaid.

Soon after we arrived in Logan, I met our service coordinator, Carol (Winn), who then introduced me to PT, OT and speech therapists. They came to our home to observe, listen and teach me as we worked to come up with strategies to help my son progress.  They connected us with The Utah School for the Deaf and Blind and we began to receive vision services, and eventually (deafblind) intervenor services as well.

Everyone was patient with us during multiple hospitalizations and made sure services were as continuous as possible. Preschool came up right away, and Chris came to the CPD to attend the transition classroom for a couple of months. This was extremely helpful, as, in my eyes, he was too young, small, and fragile to leave home and I was terrified to put him on a bus for an hour ride to Smithfield to go to school for the morning. His experience in the transition classroom helped ease me into this big step and understand how much he would benefit from school.

In addition to Up to 3, Chris also received great services through the feeding clinic (at the CPD); we borrowed books about disabilities from the lending library; and received consultation and help from the Assistive Technology Lab.

Throughout all our experiences, staff listened carefully to what we had to say. They encouraged us in our efforts and, most importantly, showed great respect and compassion to all members of our family -especially Christoph. They were considerate of our time and priorities and created an environment of fun, not guilt or obligation. We were able to borrow equipment, try it out, and then develop devices specific for my son’s needs.

Through connections made at the CPD, I became involved in a local parent support group called the Parent Connection which pushed Logan Regional Hospital to create the pediatric rehabilitation unit, Cache Kids, so families of children over 3 didn’t have to leave the valley for therapy. I also sat on the CPD’s Consumer Advisory Board for a while and got involved with Utah’s Family to Family support network. This led to other connections with Family Voices, Sparkle, IDASL, One Application, URLEND and Medical Home.

I have been involved with Medical Home for the past eight years, working with families and their pediatricians to make sure families receive compassionate, coordinated care and access to the supports they need to successfully care for their children with disabilities.

Now I’m working as service coordinator in the ASD Diagnostic Clinic and plan to continue my association with the CPD and its staff indefinitely.  I  appreciate how my experiences with my son and  the wonderful people who surrounded him and accepted him have shaped the person I have become.

Christoph passed away September 18, 2008.

Little boy sitting on his mother's lap outside hugging and laughing

Tags: ,

Support communication through assistive technology…free training

January 4, 2012 by cpehrson

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, Assistive Technology to Support Communication Development in Early Intervention, on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
This free training will be presented by Stacey Sessions, a Speech Language Pathologist at USU working as a clinical supervisor and instructor in the Department of Communication Disorders and Deaf Education and the Up to Three program at the CPD, providing assistive technology equipment and education to families in the community. Stacey will cover various types of assistive technology used to support symbolic communication development, specifically:

  • No-tech communication supports such as picture communication boards, and object symbol communication devices
  • Communication devices with voice output
  • High tech communication devices such as PRC, Dynavox, and iPad. 
Stacey will also cover initial strategies to teach children how to communicate using these various communication devices, to reduce children’s dependency on prompting.
The training is useful for parents, teachers, speech language pathologists or other professionals who work with children who would benefit from using assistive technology to support communication.
In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access.   If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Monday, January 16, to Storee Powell via email, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.
If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or sachin.pavithran@usu.eduno later than Thursday, January 12, to make arrangements to participate via phone. If you need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training, please let Sachin know by this date also.

Tags: ,

New 2011 regulations for Early Intervention

October 25, 2011 by cpehrson

photo of toddlers

“Oct 8, 2011 marked 25 years since President Reagan signed into effect Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allowing services for children under 3.  That’s a huge milestone!”  said CPD’s Early Intervention Coordinator Marla Nef.  “And now we have new regulations that will go into effect Oct 28th on updates to this law.”

It’s been a long time-1999- since new regulations for the Infant and Toddlers program have been published.   On October 21, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education announced the release of the 2011 newly revised regulations for early intervention.

These new regulations focus on measuring and improving outcomes for the approximately 350,000 infants and toddlers with disabilities served by the Part C program in the U.S., with the goal of ensuring that these children are ready for preschool and kindergarten.

“As everyone who works in education understands, one of the most important things we can offer children is a high-quality early learning experience that prepares them for kindergarten,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated.  “This is true for all children – but it’s especially important for infants and toddlers with disabilities to have access to high-quality early intervention services that prepare them to successfully transition to preschool and kindergarten.”

“Early intervention works!”  So states Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. He emphasized how critical it is for our nation’s future that children with disabilities enter school ready to succeed in “integrated and inclusive classrooms.”

Nef agrees.  “Children under 3 make progress at a more rapid rate than older children and can make gains that may decrease the amount and intensity of services they will need later in life.  Anyone who wonders if their child or a child they know may be delayed developmentally, is encouraged to give us a call. There’s help available and people don’t have to wait to see if their concern goes away.”

The Up to 3 Early Intervention program that Nef coordinates at the CPD has been serving infants and toddlers and their families since 1989.  They currently serve 310 children who have identified developmental delays or disabilities and their families.  The excellent staff includes service coordinators/family educators, speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, a Spanish Liaison, a social worker, an autism specialist, and numerous class/preschool teachers.

With such highly qualified staff, this early intervention program makes a great impact on the lives of the children and families that they serve, giving them the boost that they need to move on and continue to progress.

“We’ve been waiting for the guidance of the regulations for a long time,” remarked Sue Olsen, Director of the Up to 3 program.  “Overall, there is very little change, but the new regulations do provide clarification and guidance.  The Utah Department of Health, Baby Watch Early Intervention (BWEI) will be addressing the regulations with State policies.  The BWEI will hold public hearings to take public comment related to the new policies.  We encourage parents and other agencies involved with early intervention to participate in the comment period.”

Tags: ,

The Developmental Playground is dedicated!

October 13, 2011 by JoLynne Lyon

playing boy

A boy plays in the sand box at the CPD's Developmental Playground.

Young children who come to the CPD have been enjoying our new Developmental Playground for some time now, but we officially broke it in this month with a dedication and ribbon cutting.

Nearly 100 people braved cold, rainy weather to come.  Many of them cooperated to make the playground possible. Landscape architects, occupational therapists and educators worked together to ensure that it would be more than fun; it would also encourage a child’s movement, speech, cognition and social development. Private donors contributed more than $15,000 toward its construction.

The vision for the new playground came from experts at the CPD who are well aware of the many benefits of play; how it stimulates physical and social development, fosters language, and even helps a restless child relax.

“We wanted it to be socially inclusive,” said Dr. Keith Christensen, an assistant professor in the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department and a CPD Faculty Fellow. “It was designed for independence and learning, just to let these kids see how high they can climb.”

Everything—from the sandbox to the water elements to the plants that grow in the margins—was designed to encourage the development of the young children who receive services at the CPD. When the senses are stimulated, learning comes easier.

“We all deal with sensory stimulation in different ways. Some are much more sensitive than others,” said Amy Henningsen, an occupational therapist at the CPD.  “We can diagnose and treat kids with the type of input they need to help them mature in a functional way on this playground.”

Once again, we’d like thank all the donors who made this moment possible. And if you haven’t done so already, check out our Facebook photo album of the event. It shows off the play equipment and some adorable kids.

Tags: , ,