News/Blog

Meet Sophia

  Sophia is 21 months old. She qualified for services due to delays in receptive and expressive language and her cognitive skills were borderline. Sophia started services in June, 2017. Sophia lives with her dad, Tyler and her 10 year old brother.

Tyler is a single parent. He gets up at 4:30 a.m., takes the children to day care by 5:30 a.m. He picks them up at night at about 4:30 p.m.   On the first visit with the KWC provider, he asked her if she would keep all documentation very simple because he has a hard time reading, and would she text him the night before so he made sure he was on time to the visit.

The family has few toys so the provider has taken a couple of toys from KWC’s toy lending library, but mainly uses the toys the family owns. On the fourth visit, Tyler was excited to show the toy he made for Sophia, specifically to help her language skills. He has taught her how to consistently sign “more” for another toy to drop into the container.   He is also reading simple books to Sophia and singing a few songs. Sophia was not babbling five months ago. She is now using a few words consistently such as “daddy” and she signs several words. She has made improvement in all developmental areas and Tyler tries to spend time working on their goals each day.

 

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Meet Eric

 

Eric is 20 months old. He was placed on an IFSP in November 2016 due to receptive/expressive language concerns. He has a three-year-old brother and his mother just gave birth to their 3rd son, Ian. Eric has had 2 home visits by Linda Lange.

Ian, Eric’s little brother, was born on December 19th weighing 9lbs 7oz. He has shoulder dystocia and as a result, his right humerus was fractured and he has brachial plexus injuries in both arms. His lungs were immature and he needed c-pap therapy and then oxygen for a while.

He is still in the NICU, learning how to eat on his own. There is movement in both arms and he is making progress. Sara, Eric and Ian’s mom, contacted KWC so we are aware of their family situation (she spends most of the day at the hospital) and she wanted us to know of Ian because he also might need services through KWC.

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Meet Jacob

Cute Jacob was a little, premature baby. When he went home, he wasn’t progressing very quickly and his family thought he had motor delays related to his prematurity. But, after being in the Baby Watch program for a year, Jacob was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. The family moved from Provo to Payson during that year, and Jacob was having a hard time adjusting to a new place and a new physical therapist.

Kim, a wonderful Kids Who Count physical therapist, was able to pick up where their Provo specialist left off and Jacob was walking by 30 months!

“Working with the Baby Watch program (through Kids Who Count) has helped us, as parents, better target our sons needs as he has worked through his cerebral palsy limitations,” his mother, Jessica, said. “When we started Baby Watch, our one-year-old son wasn’t even rolling back to tummy. Now at almost three years old, he’s walking, doing stairs, and working on running and jumping!”

Visit kidswhocount.org or call 801.423.3000 to learn more about our early intervention program. We’re part of the Utah Department of Health Baby Watch early intervention program for infants and toddlers up to age three. Each year, we help hundreds of families like Jacob’s with concerns about their young child’s development.

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Meet Cora

Not being able to understand your child is frustrating, for both you and them. Cora is the second child in the Georgi family with a speech delay, but because of their past experience with Kids Who Count they knew exactly where to turn for help. When Cora was 15 months Linda came to their home and helped with speech as well as helping her overcome her shyness and fear of strangers.

“Linda was so great for me too,” her mom, Francesca said, “she bolstered my confidence in my ability to help my child and was open and honest yet positive every step of the way”

Just before her second birthday, Linda suggested that Cora work with a speech therapist and helped introduce the family to Danielle. Cora is now 24 months old and has gone from just making some babbling noises to speaking three-word sentences that can be understood at least half the time.

“Our family life is much calmer now, with far less stress. I’m grateful every day for the small things that most people take for granted, such as when she answers a question like, “Would you like toast or yogurt for breakfast?” Our family has developed together as we’ve learned to cope with these disabilities and make them uniquely us.”

If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait to get help. Call us at 801.423.3000 or go to https://kidswhocount.org/ Early intervention services may begin at any time between birth and age three; however, when early intervention is needed, the earlier it is provided, the better the outcome for both the child and the family.

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Meet Hazel

When Hazel was about 20 months old, she was not speaking at all. I had taught her some baby sign language to be able to communicate with her. When I finally got the courage to call Kids Who Count, they immediately jumped in. They started coming …and I didn’t see much progress at first. She had major anxiety with everyone and wouldn’t speak. But I still remember the first time at her playgroup, she played with one of the teachers. I recorded it and came home and cried. Then shortly after that, we were in the car and she pointed outside the window and said “cow!” Tears streamed down my face. She has now graduated from the program and is a chatterbox! I actually have to tell her to “stop talking” sometimes! And every time I do, I laugh because I’m so grateful that I have to tell her that. Thanks to Kids Who Count and their persistence, they got her to start talking and helped her anxiety immensely. We LOVE Kids Who Count and always will!

They helped us get our nonverbal, high social anxiety 2 year old to a friendly chatterbox.

We can now communicate with her. I have a lot more tools to help her when she is struggling. I used to get frustrated but now I can actually help her when she can’t communicate what she is trying to.

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Meet Ellie

Ellie is my third child. When Ellie turned one I began to worry about her speech because she was not speaking or making babbling noises. I contacted Kids Who Count to get an evaluation done for her and we began speech shortly thereafter. Virginia has been teaching me to help Ellie. The peace of mind has been such a blessing knowing that Ellie is getting the help she needs to be successful.
Ellie loves when Virginia comes over to play. She gets so excited to see the new activities which we try to work on daily. My older children have enjoyed learning ASL so they can help Ellie communicate which helps her get her needs met. I love how much their relationship as siblings has grown. I love that I have a resource I can rely on if I have any questions or concerns.
Ellie has been making progress. The biggest advancement has been over the last two weeks. Ellie has started the music class with Mylie, the music therapist. She has begun to mimic others actions and her ability to interact with others her age is getting better. I am so thankful for Virginia and Mylie and their willingness to help me help my child!!
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Meet Jonah

Sometimes in life you need an extra boost. This is exactly how Jonah’s parents felt when he started speech therapy at Kids Who Count just before his 2nd Birthday. Jonah had previously been in another speech therapy program, but his parents hadn’t seen much progress -that is until he met Rachel.

“Jonah immediately took to her and we would look forward to her monthly visits. He didn’t make speech therapy easy (he’s a stubborn kid) but she knew all the tricks to get him to cooperate! We slowly began to see some real progress and it made a huge difference in our daily lives.”

Rachel worked hard to get Jonah tested and get him the help he needed. Now he is 4 years old and his speech has steadily improved. “Jonah’s speech still isn’t perfect but we can understand a vast majority of what he says, which has eliminated a lot of frustration. He works really hard at pronouncing words correctly and he’s so proud of himself when he gets it!” ~Kourtney Simons

If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait to get help. Call us at 801.423.3000 or go to https://kidswhocount.org/ Early intervention services may begin at any time between birth and age three; however, when early intervention is needed, the earlier it is provided, the better the outcome for both the child and the family.

 

 

 

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Their Voice: Eric Mitchell leaves a legacy of speaking up for the disability community

 

 

There is a void in the disability community that will never be filled. This week many organizations and individuals with disabilities mourn the loss of Eric Mitchell. Eric has been a strong voice for more than 20 years for those who otherwise might not be heard.

Eric spent over 20 years working at the Disability Law Center. His colleagues there expressed their sentiments via Facebook: “The DLC is deeply saddened by the passing of our dear colleague and friend Eric Mitchell. His passing is an enormous loss for our community. Eric was a tireless advocate and an unwavering voice of empowerment for people with disabilities. He was the embodiment of our core values of integrity, compassion and impact and always challenged us to do more and do better on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. He will be greatly missed, but the impact of his legacy will live on.”

Eric also had a consulting company, “Fifth Ocean” where his legacy will be the meaningful work that he did for nonprofit agencies who used his services. In working with nonprofits, it was Eric’s goal to help them create and live by values that reflected significance. Eric connected personally with nonprofit organizations and helped in their development by helping leadership learn to communicate with their teams openly and transparently.

One such organization, “Kids Who Count”, honored Eric on their social media page: “We are saddened by the loss of this beautiful person. Eric Mitchell supported several nonprofits and Kids Who Count is deeply grateful to have been one of those fortunate organizations. His guidance and strategic thinking helped us during critical periods of growth and change. Eric’s passion for our mission was contagious and his dedication to children with special needs will live on in our work.”

Executive Director of Kids Who Count and close friend of Eric’s, Kelsey Lewis personally added, “Eric touched so many through his tireless dedication to the non-profit community.” Eric was involved in other organizations such as Art Access, The Road Home, Community Action and Fourth Street Clinic to name a few.

Another very close friend and previous colleague, Fraser Nelson, Vice President of Business Innovation at Salt Lake Tribune, said that Eric was “born with a spine of justice running through him.” When asked what to describe what drew Eric to the disability community she stated, “His passion was always there, it was in utero.”

Associate Director of Community Outreach at the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism, Laurie Bowen said of her close friend, “Eric walked the walk. He not only helped those in need but also helped the people who were helping them.” She continued, “Eric helped people be more confident in themselves and taught them to have an impact on others.”

With such a legacy, it is clear that no one person will ever come along and replicate all that he accomplished. But I think that Eric can rest peacefully knowing how many people he corroborated with who are committed to passing on his passion and commitment to a community who will never have enough people advocating for them.

Peter Strople said, “Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people.” Eric, after talking to so many of the people’s whose lives you have touched, your legacy lives on.

 

Monica Villar, Their Voice

 

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Holiday Survival Tips for Children with Special Needs

The very things that make the holidays exciting and fun for many kids can feel stressful and overwhelming to children with autism or other types of learning challenges. Routines are disrupted, noise levels are heightened, and more people are coming and going, so picture-perfect holiday memories often become messy meltdowns.

Here are some holiday survival tips that might help when the season doesn’t seem so jolly to your child.

 

 

Plan ahead

A little preparation and planning with your child will give them a chance to understand what all this commotion is about. For example, you can use pictures of activities to show your child what will be happening—show people opening presents, singing carols, or decorating, and talk about what is planned. Pack a bag, with your child’s help, that includes soothing toys, headphones, or their favorite weighted blanket. Let them know that this bag will always be available. And, don’t forget to give relatives a heads-up about your child’s particular needs and let your family help make the environment less stressful. You can give them a list of things they can do to be supportive. It may also help to arrive at gatherings early (when fewer people are there) and leave early (before the volume skyrockets).

Bring familiar food

Children, especially on the autism spectrum, tend to be extremely selective in the food that they will eat. It’s a good idea to bring some of your child’s favorite foods with you when visiting friends or family. The recognizable routine (eating what they usually eat) will ease some of the other transitional problems (Eating away from home) they may be experiencing. If you tell the host about their special food needs ahead of time you can avoid offending the cook.

Manage the gift chaos

Unwrapping presents can be noisy, chaotic, and challenging for some children with special needs. Try using soft, reusable bags to wrap gifts which are easier to open and less noisy and messy. Or, you could make sure your child’s gifts are easy to open so they can have the sense of accomplishment of opening without unnecessary frustration. You could also plan a place away from others for your child to open gifts so they won’t feel overwhelmed and rushed by the group’s excitement. You can also wrap one of your child’s favorite toys so they open something familiar and comforting that you know they like.

Wait to put wrapped gifts out 

One other small tip is to wait until Christmas eve night to place any gifts under the tree. Children on the autism spectrum and those with other learning challenges can have difficulty with delayed gratification. Waiting to put gifts out can prevent a major case of sensory overload.

Schedule alone time with your child

The busyness of the season can mess up your schedule during the holidays, so it might be helpful to schedule time every day to just get away or do one of your child’s favorite activities. You can also manage stress by allowing yourself to let go of some traditions this year that may not be enjoyable. The pressure of joining festivities can sometimes be taxing to both you and your child, so having a sanctuary (a room or part of a room) to escape to can be helpful.

As always with your special needs child, remember to follow your heart. Do what is best for your child and your family, even if that means saying no to some things you’d really like to say yes to this year. The holidays may look a bit different than you imagined, but just remember, you are making your own unique holiday memories with your child.

Mary Walker, OT

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Four Tips for Managing the Stress of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Parenting brings many joys. But it also can bring a lot of stress, which can be compounded if you are a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorders or developmental challenges. Building resiliency can be useful in facing these challenges. Here are four tips that may help.

1. Laugh

It may sound counterintuitive, but consciously trying to lighten the mood can help you deal with intense situations. Positive humor at home can actually strengthen your relationships with your spouse and children. Try avoiding the news and watch comedies or cartoons that make you giggle instead. Check out funny books from the library, or add some books of jokes to your bedside table. Finding small ways to laugh about your own everyday situations will melt stress. Even if it feels forced at first, practice chuckling and it will soon turn into spontaneous laughter. A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but studies are increasing about the positive effects of laughter.

2. Be active

Activity in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Exercise boosts your feel-good endorphins and focusing on the movement will distract you from daily worries. The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be done at the gym or include a formalized program to alleviate stress. Even a walk around the block or dancing to your favorite tunes in the kitchen can make a difference. Exercise can increase your self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with stress or anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by the stress of caring for a special needs child.

3. Find support systems

Having social support is very helpful in decreasing parenting stress. For example, if extended family is available ask them to provide childcare for a few hours during the week to give you a break for yourself. Support systems may also be helpful to provide an avenue for you to talk with others about how they cope with being a parent. It is always good to hear how others have addressed a problem or find that you are not alone. One option is to join the Kids Who Count Family Support Group and meet other parents who are managing the challenges and opportunities that come with having a child with special needs. This group meets Tuesday mornings from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and limited childcare is also available. Go to kidswhocount.org/#resources for more information.

4. Seek professional help 

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, seek professional help from a psychologist or licensed mental health professional. A psychologist can be helpful to provide strategies to help you cope with life’s challenges. Additionally, they may be able to provide you with resources to help improve your child’s functioning and decrease problem behaviors that may increase parenting stress. Call the Kids Who Count offices at (801) 423-3000 if you need help finding qualified professionals for either you or your child.

 

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellFour Tips for Managing the Stress of Parenting a Special Needs Child
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