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Four Ideas to Make Bath Time Less Stressful and More Fun!

Sometimes bathing a toddler can be like trying to hold a fish—a wiggly, giggly, slippery minnow that can even run away from you. Here are four ideas to help you make bath time less fishy.

Don’t Pass on Prep Time

Before trying to corral your kiddo, make sure you have everything you need within reach. Don’t forget to pull together towels, soap, shampoo, and the all-important toys. If you encourage your child to help gather the bath-time items, he or she will feel more included and can even learn some skills like planning ahead and organization and you’ll avoid your kid standing in a cold, wet puddle while you search for that special towel.

You can also include a build-up to bath time as part of your prep. Give your child a few minutes warning in the lead-up to their bath like saying things like, “It’s just five minutes to bath time!” Toddlers don’t usually like to stop one thing and start another without notice. You can use these same kinds of signals when it’s almost time to get out of the bath too.

Make sure you test the water before helping your child climb in. The back of your hand is more sensitive than your palm. And, never run hot water when your child is in the tub to avoid scalding. Once your child is in the tub, always stay within arms reach.

Combat Fears of Water and the Dreaded Drain

It’s not uncommon for children to be a little apprehensive about a bath. Sometimes it’s feeling nervous about water getting in their eyes, and other times it’s a fear that they might get sucked down the drain with the rest of the suds. Kids can also be a little unnerved by the sound of rushing water or can be worried about slipping.

Identify the reason for your child’s concern first, and then use small steps to help calm their fears.

For a child with a lot of uneasiness about water, it’s sometimes helpful to give them a chance to put their hands in the sink water to learn that water play can be fun. For kids who are extra frightened around water, you can even start water play in the kitchen sink or in a bucket/tray of water outside the bathroom. Then, over several days or weeks move it closer and closer. For example, start in the kitchen and then move it to the bathroom. Finally, move the bucket into the tub so your child can play with water when the tub is empty.

Introduce new bath toys outside the tub too, and show him or her how much fun it is to float them in water. Try only filling the tub with a couple of inches of water at first—just enough to splash a little—then gradually add more water as he or she gets more comfortable.

Get a nonskid mat for the tub to make it less slippery and cover the faucet with a piece of pool noodle to avoid head injuries. And don’t forget the non-slip mat outside the tub to make the floor less slippery. Even a towel on the floor will work in a pinch. If the rushing water sound is scary, try filling the tub when your child is in another room.

If your child is afraid of getting pulled down the drain, try having him or her help fill up the bathtub and bathe a toy or doll. Practice cleaning and grooming the toy and then leave it in the water and unplug the drain. Watch together and see that the toy doesn’t get sucked away. And don’t forget to point out how much bigger they are than the toy.

If none of these ideas work, you could try washing someplace other than the bathtub. Fill a different kind of receptacle with water instead. Try a flexible tub with handles or even a laundry bucket. Sometimes smaller options will be a novelty and will help your child look forward to bath time.

Add Some Fun (and Some Learning)

Bath activities can be fun, and you don’t need fancy toys for a good time. Even funnels, plastic bottles, or measuring cups can make bath time interesting. Rotate toys to keep things fresh, or try singing songs and telling stories. Helping your toddler make up their own games and stories will fuel their imagination.

Because toddlers are constantly learning, bath time is full of opportunities. Try naming the different parts of the body as you wash them. You can also add new vocabulary by repeating and incorporating new words. Repeat words for actions like: splash, pour, splash, spill, or sit. Learn the words for toys like: duck, fish, turtle, boat, ball, etc. Or, try naming the colors all around the bath. But also remember that bath time doesn’t mean school time, so keep it natural and low-key.

Try adding a few drops of food coloring to the bathtub to catch a wary toddler’s attention. Or, freeze small bath toys inside ice cubes and watch how much fun your child has as the ice melts to reveal what’s inside. Ice cubes made with colored water are also fun to chase around the tub.

Communicate to Calm Nerves

Give your child a heads-up when you are going to pour water over their head. Help them tilt their head back, or have them hold a washcloth over their eyes. If you are having trouble getting them to look up, try putting a picture of their favorite character on the ceiling (like Mickey Mouse or Thomas the Train). Then have them look at or find the character.

You can talk through the process so they aren’t surprised by saying things like: “Now let’s wash your hair.” And, don’t skip the praise. Let them know how brave they are, or how calm they are being.

You also could invest in a bath visor to keep little eyes dry. Even a foam visor from the dollar store would work. And, make sure your bath products are gentle and “no-tear” formulas. But, keep the focus on fun. You can sometimes skip the soaping and shampooing when it’s too much of a stressor.

If your child is especially unhappy about a certain part of bath time (like washing their hair), try singing the same song during this part every time. This ritual will help your child know what is coming and it will also help them realize it will be over soon. They’re done as soon as the song is over.

When all else fails, maybe a little togetherness can do the trick. Try getting in the tub with your child. Your example goes a long way, so showing your toddler how much fun you think the bath is might be just the inspiration he or she needs. Plus, who wouldn’t want to take a turn dumping water on mommy or daddy’s head?

Written by Annie Buck, OT

Annie Buck is an Occupational Therapist with Kids Who Count. She specializes in helping children with feeding and sensory delays. She lives in a houseful of boys. She and her husband have four sons, from 8-months-old to 7-years-old. Things are always loud at home with fun that usually involves someone wrestling someone else.

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellFour Ideas to Make Bath Time Less Stressful and More Fun!
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Junior high students focus on children’s special needs

When seventh-grade students, Stefan Omelchuk and Christopher Bruder, were trying to decide what they would do for their required service project, they knew it had to involve two things: their love for the game of hockey and helping kids with disabilities.

Stefan and Christopher attend St. John the Baptist Middle School, also known as Juan Diego Catholic High School, which requires that all students complete a “Catholic Connection” service project to further their understanding of the Catholic belief in service to others.

It was their love of the game of hockey and their connections with the Utah Grizzlies that led to them organizing a fundraising event to benefit Kids Who Count, a nonprofit early intervention program in Nebo School District that serves the special health care needs of children in Utah County.

When explaining why they chose Kids Who Count as the benefactor of the event, Omelchuk said, “Me and my teammates are pretty lucky to get to play hockey. Some kids need help just to walk or talk. We wanted to help them.”

The fundraising event will take place on Feb. 27 at the Maverik Center, where the Utah Grizzlies will take on the Maine Mariners. Discounted tickets to benefit Kids Who Count can be purchased by contacting them at (801) 423-3000. Additionally, volunteers will be selling foam pucks to chuck on the ice for a chance to win $100. Proceeds from these sales will go directly to Kids Who Count.

We most often hear stories about high school, college or professional athletes when they are negative. It is refreshing to know that many of our youth at many of our schools are encouraged to give back to their communities instead of just playing a sport. Whether the requirement comes from the school or from a coach who knows that the value of an athlete goes beyond what they can do on the field or the court, we need to encourage more schools and coaches to follow this lead.

I would also like to remind everyone about Utah Valley University men’s basketball “Night for Autism” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23. Tickets are free and special accommodations are available for individuals with disabilities. Go to http://goUVU.com/tickets, create an account and enter autism19 for your free tickets.

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Holly BushnellJunior high students focus on children’s special needs
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Why You Might Want to Ditch the Sippy Cup

Sippy cups have quickly become synonymous with toddlers, but you might want to consider skipping the sippy altogether, and here are a few reasons why:

Sippy Cups May Cause Developmental Delays

Hard, spouted cups may not be helpful for your child’s development. Leading child development specialists say that because spouted cups are held on the front of a child’s tongue, he or she may not develop what is called a “mature swallow pattern.”

Young children are learning how swallow like an adult and are pushing up their tongue to the roof of their mouth. Cups with a hard tip can hold the tip of their tongue down when they swallow instead of letting the tongue tip rise. If something holds their tongue down, they could develop a tongue-thrust, (or immature swallow) which could delay progress both in speech and motor development. Also, they can have difficulty with producing some speech sounds, like the “s” sound.

Speech-language pathologists consistently agree that prolonged use of a bottle or sippy cup can cause abnormalities in mouth development.

Your toddler is also figuring out his or her own eye-hand coordination. Many great skills combine when a child uses a glass and learns to drink on his or her own. For many parents whose child seems to be having a difficult time transitioning from a bottle, a sippy cup may seem like a terrific solution. But really, this intermediate step may just delay the natural learning process for your child.

It can take time and patience to help your child learn to drink from a real cup, but it’s worth the effort and will give your child valuable life skills they will need anyway—even if you were to inadvertently delay this process with a sippy cup.

Increase the Risk of Tooth Decay and Decrease Healthy Appetite

Another reason you may want to eliminate the sippy cup step altogether is because it can encourage unhealthy habits that can cause tooth decay, interfere with hunger, and create unhealthy “grazing” tendencies.

Kids love to drink apple juice and milk because of their sweetness. However, when a child sips continuously throughout the day, the lactose from milk and fructose from fruits stays on their teeth and gums, putting your child at a higher risk for cavities in their developing teeth.

And, when kids always have a sippy cup full of calorie-dense liquids they may have a decreased appetite for healthy food at mealtimes. Nobody wants to add more stress to toddler meals!

What to Do Instead

Many parents don’t realize that babies can and should be introduced to regular, open cups at about six months when they begin eating solid foods (with a lot of help from you!) If they have a lot of trouble you can try starting with a thicker liquid like a smoothie at first. By the time your child is 18 months old they should be able to use a regular cup fairly independently without too many spills.

A cup with a half lid (or a cup without the valve or nipple installed), and even a cup with a short straw is a better choice for busy toddlers. Or, try starting with a very small cup (like a shot glass or play cup) and a limited amount of liquid. Another trick might be to use a travel coffee or hot drink cup that has a small opening at the top. Sometimes these types of cups will help to decrease the flow of fluid so your child can drink with fewer spills.

If you have tried some of these ideas and nothing seems to be working, talk to a doctor or pediatric speech or occupational therapist about different, more individualized options.

Remember, the sippy cup is a relatively recent invention. Your grandparents, and maybe even your parents, survived the toddler years without them. And, although it can be a bit messy at first, it is important that most children learn how to drink from an open cup by 18 months of age.

Written by Annie Buck, OT

Annie Buck is an Occupational Therapist with Kids Who Count. She specializes in helping children with feeding and sensory delays. She lives in a houseful of boys. She and her husband have four sons, from 8-months-old to 7-years-old. Things are always loud at home with fun that usually involves someone wrestling someone else.

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellWhy You Might Want to Ditch the Sippy Cup
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Making mealtime easier: tips for feeding your toddler

Your toddler is learning to eat more solid foods and is becoming more active and independent. This is a time of exploration and discovery that sometimes doesn’t include being adventurous with food. You may even notice that your toddler refuses some of the foods he or she loved as an infant.

To make mealtime a bit easier—and healthier—have a few tricks up your sleeve. You may find that your child isn’t a picky eater, but may just take a bit more time to learn to enjoy different tastes and textures.

Variety keeps it interesting

When you offer your toddler a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and tastes at mealtime it not only keeps them interested, but gives them a more nutritionally balanced day. Try something crunchy, like whole grain crackers with something sweet like banana slices. Then add something with protein like cubed chicken or lean meat (cut into small pieces to avoid choking) and a bit of dairy like few pieces of string cheese or a cup of whole milk. You could serve salad as finger food with leafy greens without dressing, along with cut-up grapes or orange slices.

Use child-sized plates, cups, and utensils that fit their little hands and appetites. Then, pair unfamiliar food with a choice they already know and like to help them broaden their palate and enjoy more challenging foods. You don’t need to stick with the things you view as typical kid-friendly foods, but you can help them enjoy a bigger variety by serving them the same foods you are eating, just in smaller portions.

You don’t need to force your child to eat something he or she doesn’t like, but keep offering a variety of foods. The key is to keep exposing them to new tastes, colors, and textures. And, your example is critical. When your child sees you eating and enjoying veggies, they are much more likely to eat and enjoy veggies too. Sometimes your child just needs a model. When they see how much you like something they will be much more likely to try it themselves.

With your older toddler, it can be fun to take them to the grocery store with you and let them pick out a new fruit or veggie to try. Often when your child helped pick out a new food they will be more excited and willing to try it. Who knows? They may pick out something new to you too!

Make food easy to eat

Toddlers are enjoying their new independence. They like food they can hold themselves, like whole green beans, steamed carrot strips, or cubes of whole-grain bread. You can try things with different textures like avocado chunks, scrambled eggs, or even tofu. Noodles and pasta with different shapes and sizes are fun, and you can try cutting veggies in different shapes as well.

It’s best to avoid foods that are easy to choke on. Be careful with sticky foods like peanut butter and marshmallows, and watch out for small, hard foods like nuts, seeds, popcorn, raw carrots, and raisins. Slippery foods can also be troublesome, so avoid serving your child things like whole grapes and large pieces of meat or hot dogs.

Plan mealtimes and introduce a bit of structure

Keeping mealtime more structured can help to regulate your child’s appetite and attitude. Serve most meals and snacks in a designated area, like the kitchen table, and at about the same times each day. Avoid falling into the short-order-cook habit of giving your child requested items all day long.

Toddlers’ tummies are only about the size of their little fist and fill up easily. A common mistake is to allow children to drink milk and juice throughout the day or snack between meals, decreasing appetite and intake at main meals.

As your child grows, so will their love for different foods. Be patient and keep introducing new, healthy alternatives to keep them on track and happy.

 

Written on February 21, 2019 by Annie Buck, OT

Annie Buck is an Occupational Therapist with Kids Who Count. She specializes in helping children with feeding and sensory delays. She lives in a houseful of boys. She and her husband have four sons, from 8-months-old to 7-years-old. Things are always loud at home with fun that usually involves someone wrestling someone else.

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellMaking mealtime easier: tips for feeding your toddler
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Honoring a Terrific Kids Who Count Employee-Peggie Lara

There are a number of ways that people choose their profession or vocation.

There are those who decide at a young age what they want to be, pursue it and do it until they retire.

Others may make the same choices and have the same pursuit and later realize it wasn’t what they wanted and do something else. Then, there is the group that really didn’t have a set course and are lucky enough to stumble into the perfect job with the perfect employer at the perfect time.

I think that is likely the case with Peggie Lara.

I do not know for sure if 27 years ago, Peggie joined the Kids Who Count team, an early intervention program in Nebo School District, purposefully or if she stumbled on to it by answering an ad. Regardless of what took her there, she has spent the last 27 years of her life making it purposeful.

When she joined Kids Who Count, the field of developmental disabilities had a lot fewer opportunities for employment, but Peggie stepped in and quickly found her place. She started by providing direct services to the Spanish-speaking families and conducting intake visits in their homes. She worked in other capacities and has been credited with contributing greatly to the success of the early intervention program. She understands the concerns of parents of children with disabilities and was able to communicate with them warmth, compassion and expediently scheduling initial evaluations.

Peggie worked with Latino and Hispanic families by creating meaningful connections with the community and ensured inclusion. She also expanded cultural awareness within the Kids Who Count team. Peggie has agreed to continue to facilitate the “Learning with Books and Play” class for Spanish-speaking families.

“Learning with Books and Play” is one of many programs offered through Kids Who Count and is co-sponsored through United Way. This is a fun and interactive class for Spanish-speaking children and families in the community. The class will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kids Who Count building in Salem. The children will learn how to combine literacy and hands-on play to support learning and how to build in the four areas of child development: cognitive, physical, language and social-emotional. Information can be found at https://www.kidswhocount.org/our-services/learningwithbooksandplay.

It is unique for employees to commit to a job and stay for so many years,’ said Kelsey Lewis, executive director of Kids Who Count. “The longevity and dedication of employees like Peggie, make Kids Who Count more than a team. We’re a family and it’s hard to imagine this family without Peggie.”

Melanie Linford, associate director of Kids Who Count, added, “Peggie is an intelligent, kind and happy person. Thank you for the many years of hard work and dedication.”

By today’s standards, twenty-seven years is a long time to stay in one job with one company. Peggie’s longevity in this field and with Kids Who Count is a testimony to the value of serving others. She is a reminder of one of my favorite quotes by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Peggie, you undoubtedly did great things for many people with great love. Enjoy your retirement.

Daily Herald Extra Article

Holly BushnellHonoring a Terrific Kids Who Count Employee-Peggie Lara
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Five Fun Winter Activities for Kids with Special Needs

How to make learning fun when it’s cold outside

 

Winter can be a challenging time for parents and kids with special needs. Now that holidays are over and routines are returning, you may need some fresh ideas to fend off the chill. So, if you and your kiddos have a bit of cabin fever this winter, here are five ideas for activities you can try to pass a long winter’s day.

1-Use snow for sensory experiences

Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of some frosty, sensory playtime. Make a point of experiencing the cold and lightness of snow by making snowballs, tiny snowmen, or snow angels. You can help your child practice their vocabulary during the activity by naming the winter words: cold, white, snow, snowball, frozen, etc.

It’s also fun to try snow painting by filling squeezable bottles or spray bottles with water colored with food coloring. Add enough color to make a dark contrast in the snow and then let your littles spray or squeeze out a snowy masterpiece. Practice saying all the colors as you paint.

Another idea is to fill balloons with that darkly colored water and leave them outside overnight. In the morning you can peal the balloon off the frozen water and have beautiful colored orbs to decorate your yard. Kids will like watching to see if the colored balls eventually melt into painted puddles. You can practice words like: frozen, freeze, balloon, pretty, and colors.

2-Put together a fort-building kit

Gather some old sheets, blankets, pillows, cardboard, clothespins and yarn in a big laundry basket. Let the kids use their imaginations to build forts between chairs or behind couches. Don’t be afraid to get involved with the fort building, especially if your child is small or has special needs. Having a flashlight or battery powered candle will make the fort cozy. You can bring in your child’s favorite books, games, or sensory bins to spend a cozy afternoon in their soft, blanket clubhouse. While building, or once inside, you can practice vocabulary by talking about the activities. Have your child use words like: fort, blanket, pillow, hide, cozy, help, build, or other fun words. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks!

3-Create a discovery bag

Find a few items at your local dollar store, or around your house, to fit in a box, bag, or pillowcase. Try to find quiet time items that your child can use with less supervision like puzzles, fidgets, books, or sensory toys with a distinct shape (ball, blocks, car, shoe, cup, or spoon.) Then, you can hide (even in plain sight) the items around the house in scavenger-hunt style to have your child “discover” the items you suggest they find. Your child could play with each item until they lose interest and then move on to the next item to find.

Another way to play would be to look for the objects with real or pretend binoculars or a flashlight. When they find the object, practice saying the name using simple phrases such as “I see _______” to work on language development.

4-Make a winter sensory bag

Making a bag filled with sensory items is a fun way to experience winter without a lot of mess. Fill a large zip close bag with about a cup of inexpensive clear hair gel. Then add small marshmallows, glitter, tapioca balls, and little cotton balls.  You can also look around your house for small craft items or little alphabet letters that would be fun to squeeze or find in the goo. Seal the bag up tight (you might want to reinforce with tape to be sure it doesn’t spring a leak). Then your child can squish and paint and smoosh to their hearts content. If you keep the bag in the refrigerator the contents are cool for an additional sensory experience. This is a great vocabulary activity as well. Simply practice naming each of the items inside the bag.

5-Set up an indoor obstacle course

Remember “the floor is hot lava” game from your childhood? It’s fun to set up an obstacle course over stools and under tables, around chairs and through tunnels made with blankets. Use towels as free spaces or islands and pillows for resting spots. You can also set up rows of blocks to navigate around or a path with rags for jumping. Dodging around obstacles helps your kids develop their motor skills and can create hours of active fun. Practice naming actions like: jump, help, move, run, and rest. You can also practice imaginative concepts such as hot, burn, volcano, lava, and pretend.

What other activities have you thought of to keep kids busy and engaged during the winter weeks? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

Written on January 10, 2019 by Darla Davis, SLP

Darla Davis is a Speech Language Pathologist with Kids Who Count, a non-profit, early intervention program serving families within the boundaries of the Nebo School District in Central Utah. Darla coaches parents and caregivers at home to help them find learning opportunities in their child’s daily routines. She focuses on increasing expressive language skills such as gestures, sign language, pictures, augmentative communication systems, spoken language or receptive language skills like understanding and following directions. The speech services with Kids Who Count help children develop oral motor skills related to both speaking and eating.

To learn more about Kids Who Count please visit  https://kidswhocount.org/ or call 801.423.3000.

Kids Who Count

 

Holly BushnellFive Fun Winter Activities for Kids with Special Needs
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Utah Nonprofits Hoping for Help on #GivingTuesday

Utah nonprofits hoping for help on #GivingTuesday

After a weekend of getting and gifting, Tuesday marks a bit of a kick-off for the giving side of the holiday season.

Giving Tuesday is a national movement that promotes donating to local and national charities. Also known as #GivingTuesday, the day started in 2012 as a way to encourage people to get involved in their local communities and donate time, money or resources.

For the small team behind Kids Who Count, a Salem nonprofit, this is their first year participating in #GivingTuesday. Kids Who Count serves children in the Nebo School District area with early intervention programs for those with developmental disabilities. The organization is new to fundraising, as it has held a federal early intervention grant since 1986, which helps provide the needed services. Because of Utah’s growth in the last few years, though, the organization needs additional funds, says Kelsey Lewis, executive director of Kids Who Count.

“The number of children needing services exceeds our capacity. In the past five years we’ve seen a 40 percent increase in the number of children we’re serving,” she said in a phone interview last week, explaining that the resources from the grant have remained fairly static during that same timeframe. “We’re looking for ways to scale up our program to better match the needs of our community.”

Lewis said they are hoping to raise funds to expand their autism program, offering more therapy for longer periods of time. They have also outgrown their building at 345 N. State Road 198 in Salem, and hope to remodel and expand it.

Lewis said Friday early donations to the Kids Who Count campaign had already hit about $1,000. She is hoping to reach $5,000 by Tuesday.

“But it doesn’t have to happen all on Giving Tuesday. If we can create some awareness in the community with this, that would be good. We need community support for our programs to continue to make it happen,” she said. “It will be fun to see how this first campaign goes.”

 

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Holly BushnellUtah Nonprofits Hoping for Help on #GivingTuesday
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Utah Jazz arena adds ‘sensory room’

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert joins children and their families in the new Sensory Room designed and built by Vivint Smart Home and the Utah Jazz

Vivint Smart Home Arena can explode with noise when Rudy Gobert slams home a thunderous dunk or when Donovan Mitchell drills a 3-pointer from just short of midcourt.

Those decibel levels can be pretty overwhelming for children who have autism or other neurodiverse conditions. So the arena sponsor’s philanthropic arm, Vivint Gives Back, installed a “sensory room,” where kids and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities can go to cool off.

“This space is about kids and families,” said Nate Randle, Vivint Smart Home’s chief marketing officer. “To know there’s a spot where it’s quiet, and that Mom or Dad could bring a kid here for 15 to 20 minutes to settle down without having the leave the game, people are excited about that.”

READ THE ARTICLE IN THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

 

Holly BushnellUtah Jazz arena adds ‘sensory room’
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JOIN US FOR THE ANNUAL PICNIC

We are so fortunate to work with wonderful children and families. We want to celebrate with all of you. If you are currently receiving services from Kids Who Count, please join us for our annual family picnic at Salem Pond on Monday, August 28th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Dinner will be served so you must RSVP. PLEASE CALL 801.423.3000 TO RSVP BY 8/18!

Holly BushnellJOIN US FOR THE ANNUAL PICNIC
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Their Voice: Kids Who Count celebrates 30 years of early intervention

Daily Herald Article:

Last week I received an invitation in the mail to attend the Kids Who Count 30th anniversary celebration Tuesday evening. I have written several times about Kids Who Count, an early intervention program funded by the Health Department and serving the Nebo School District area. Early intervention provides a multitude of services for newborn children through age 3 and their families.

Last week I received an invitation in the mail to attend the Kids Who Count 30th anniversary celebration Tuesday evening. I have written several times about Kids Who Count, an early intervention program funded by the Health Department and serving the Nebo School District area. Early intervention provides a multitude of services for newborn children through age 3 and their families.

As I was driving to the open house I couldn’t help but think that 30 years ago when the Americans with Disabilities Act was still a concept, Susie Parrett was in Salem, Utah, just looking for a way to help her two children who had both experienced a head injury.

“I had no intention to start anything,” reflects Parrett. “I just wanted to get some help for my kids.”

Instead, with prompting from the Health Department, Susie started Kids Who Count in the basement of the San Andres Catholic Church in Payson. The six children who started 30 years ago have now turned into 270 who are currently being served.

“We know there are a lot more who need our services,” says Kelsey Lewis, executive director of Kids Who Count. “We really wish we could reach out to all of them.”

The celebration consisted of bouncy houses, games, pizza, snow cones, popcorn and a lot of great conversation and recollection of wonderful memories. Many of the children in attendance are still in the program, and many more have completed early intervention and progressed to the Special Ed Program through Nebo School District. Some of the children are now adults.

One particular mother who made sure she attended was Cheltsy Moore. Cheltsy’s son, Brody, entered the Kids Who Count program in 2011. Brody was born 10 weeks early and was at Primary Children’s Hospital until October that year. When it was time for Brody to go home, a coordinator from Primary Children’s Hospital set up a conference call with his parents and Mary Walker, a nurse at Kids Who Count.

“When it was finally time to take Brody home, we were both excited and nervous. We had been warned so much about germs and taking him out that we weren’t really sure what to do. He was still connected to a lot of tubes,” Moore recalls.

Luckily for the Moores, nurses from Kids Who Count started coming in to check on him right away. “Brody wasn’t even able to turn his head when he came home,” Moore recalls. “Mary and other therapists were able to teach him to turn his head, sit up and eventually walk in his walker.”

Services through Kids Who Count included physical therapy, swimming (which Brody really loved), speech therapy and weight checks, while they were working with his physicians to get him to eat. Since the Moores’ insurance could only pay for 20 services a year, Kids Who Count was able to bridge the gap and give him the services that he needed.

Additionally, the therapists were able to work with the family and teach them the things they need to know to continue the sessions daily.  It was refreshing for Brody’s parents to work with individuals who were able to fully understand his diagnosis and knew exactly what they were talking about.

Brody finished the Kids Who Count program when he turned three and advanced to the Special Education program. However, for the Moores and other families involved in early intervention, the relationships did not stop.

“The staff at Kids Who Count become like family,” says Moore. “Since they come to your house instead of making you go to them, they get to know everyone. My other children also looked forward to the visits from the therapists and staff.”

Cheltsy might not have realized how close the people from Kids Who Count really were to her family until a year ago, when Brody unexpectedly passed away from complications of his condition.

“They all come to the funeral to show their support and I understood that my loss was also their loss,” Moore says. “Sometimes we will go to the cemetery and find little notes from them on his headstone.”

I imagine that attending the anniversary celebration this week was not easy for Cheltsy, but she went anyway to show her support and appreciation for the program and staff whom she still sees as part of her family.

So it is on behalf of Cheltsy, Brody, and the hundreds of other families who are connected to this program that I congratulate the Kids Who Count program on all of their successes. From Susie Parrett to the current organization, I hope that you are always able to continue the support that you provide for our small community.

Holly BushnellTheir Voice: Kids Who Count celebrates 30 years of early intervention
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