Tag: Utah community resources

I’m All Right Book Review by Larry Haddock, a survivor of a Traumatic Brain Injury

I’m excited to share Larry Haddock’s book about his life and experience with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Larry and I met at Brigham Young University during our freshman year. He and his friends were just as Larry describes them in his book. Since I’ve known Larry, he’s always had a zany sense of humor and has no shame about it. Larry loves to make people smile and laugh. Larry and I were acquaintances during this time and I’m grateful that we knew each other well enough to remember one another when we met again 5 years later. After graduating from OT school in Colorado, I started my first job as an occupational therapist in Ogden, Utah, where I’d grown up and Larry’s family had recently moved. In that small circle of therapy in Ogden our paths have crossed many times in the past decade and a half.  I loved reading Larry’s book and recognizing his humorous optimism among the names of BYU college friends and therapy friends from Ogden. Larry has often reminded me as we’ve crossed paths, that my OT title really stands for “occupational terrorist”.

Larry survived a car accident after he had recently returned home from a mission in Spain for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was attending Brigham Young University. His book shares his life story, highlighting important experiences and people before and after that have kept him strong through his life-altering traumatic brain injury.

I am inspired by the picture of Larry’s determination in the rehab gym, wearing a sweat-soaked t-shirt, walking on a treadmill while an uneven thump of his left foot is heard in the background. Larry’s friend, Hope, describes this scene so perfectly in the forward of the book. Larry inspires me to keep pushing through life’s challenges, even at a slow pace and in my sweaty mess.

Larry and I started out on similar life paths. Our paths look quite different now. I’ve often pondered this. But as I read his book, I realize that our life’s missions are still the same. We are still striving for the same purposes: serving others with Christ-like love,  enjoying and caring for our spouses and families, and continuing to progress personally and professionally. Larry and I (and many others) are all still very much the same in our purpose despite the difference in our life’s circumstances. Larry gives me hope and inspiration to keep going despite my challenges, with a smile on my face.

This book is quite an accomplishment for Larry and I only expect more from him in the future. He not only inspires, but gives a realistic picture of life after a TBI. Anyone in the Utah area who reads this will also be introduced to a variety of community resources that Larry has found to support his quality of life to continue to participate in fulfilling his life roles.

Larry truly has a gift of optimism to inspire others. Larry’s voice in this book is the real, authentic Larry. He’s been blessed with such a wonderful support system of family, friends and professionals who have made possible his determination to reap the rewards of accomplishment. All will be inspired as you read Larry’s story.

You can buy Larry’s book at lulu.com. He also did a short interview about his book on Good Things Utah.

CAPES! (Children’s Adaptive Physical Education Society) at Weber State University

If I’d happened to have a bad day, I still wouldn’t have been able to stop smiling the night I attended the CAPES! Luau Celebration this spring at Weber State University. Children, families and Weber State student volunteers were spending their last night together before the summer break. Families and friends cheered on children, some wearing purple capes, resembling young superheroes, as they knocked down bowling pins, attempted the limbo, threw beanbags at targets and colored pictures.

I talked with families and volunteers about the program and only heard fabulous things about the CAPES! program for children ages 5-12 with developmental disabilities. As a pediatric occupational therapist in Ogden, Utah I’ve seen so many families of children with developmental disabilities struggle to find activities in the community for their children to fit into. But the night of the CAPES! celebration, these little superheroes, with their friends by their side, were fearless with nothing standing in their way of care-free childhood play.

One mom told me that her daughter often stays home while her siblings play with friends or participate in extracurricular activities. But CAPES! is all about her, and she and her parents love the fun, safe place that this program has created without any fear of feeling left out at anytime.

CAPES! is supported by Weber State University students who are enrolled in or have taken either Adaptive Physical Education or Introduction to Special Education classes with the facilitators of the program, Dr. James Zagrodnik and Dr. Natalie Williams. Each child is assigned to a student volunteer throughout the semester. They’ve created a program that builds important experiences and skills for children with developmental disabilities and students who are studying to work with this population in the future.

Drs. Williams and Zagrodnik shared students’ written experiences with me and the stories seemed to follow a similar trend. At the beginning of the semester, students were nervous, unsure of their abilities and chance of enjoying the experience, many having had very little experience with children with disabilities. Quickly, after the first or second time, students were attached to their new, younger friends and celebrating small successes with them. By the end, most students were sad their time was coming to an end, having learned valuable lessons and thoroughly enjoyed their time working with the children.

I watched the children find their student volunteers with excitement to try a new activity, which was followed by beaming faces as the student volunteers gave their full attention and enthusiastic praise. The relationships between the students and children become beneficial to both sides, with a sense of satisfaction and growth for each.

The program has spots for about 35 children each semester. If the program is a good fit, children can continue to participate for 5-6 semesters (spring and fall semesters) or until they age out of the program. They meet for an hour and 15 minutes on Tuesday nights for 10 weeks each semester, where half the time is spent in the pool and half the time doing land-based activities. Each student volunteer plans fun activities for their child to work on any skill they feel is beneficial for the child. The cost is only $25 per child for each semester to help cover costs for the use of the Weber State University facilities.

CAPES! If you are interested in having your child with a developmental disability apply to CAPES!, you can do so at weber.edu/capes/registration. You may be placed on the CAPES! waiting list if the program is full, but I believe it’s worth the wait! Take advantage of this one-of-a-kind program in our Ogden, Utah area!

April 2016 Tube Feeding Support Group with Marsha Dunn Klein

If you can make it to April’s Tube Feeding Support Group for families of “tubies” (the affectionate nickname for those fed by feeding tubes), you are definitely in for a treat! If you would like to learn more about this support group for families, you can visit my original post, Tube Feeding Support Group in Utah.

Marsha Dunn Klein, an internationally-known occupational therapist specializing in feeding, will be the guest speaker for April’s Tube Feeding Support Group!

I’ve attended a couple of Marsha’s conferences for feeding therapists and own some of her books she has co-authored in my feeding therapy reference library. She shares great and helpful information and does so with sincere compassion, understanding and enthusiasm for families and children with feeding difficulties. I’ve always found Marsha a delight to learn from!

Don’t miss this discussion with Marsha Dunn Klein on April 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 4th floor in the Millcreek Conference Room! You may contact Garrett, the parent support group leader, with any questions at 801-554-0184.

Tube-Feeding Support Group in Utah

UPDATE: June’s Tube-Feeding Support Group will be held Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 3rd floor in Classroom D & E.

I’m excited to share the only tube feeding support group that I’ve ever of heard of in Utah in my 15 years as an occupational therapist treating children with feeding difficulties! I’ve worked with many families whose children cannot eat enough by mouth and have no other option than to place a feeding tube so their child can get the nutrition they need. Sometimes this lasts only a few weeks, but many children require tubes for many years to even life. Feeding tubes are a wonderful medical advancement that have saved millions of lives, but I have always been acutely aware of the emotional bombshell for every family when a feeding tube is considered, placed and then sent home to become their own child’s tube feeding expert. This group will be a great resource to help families affected with this overwhelming process.

Our community has many great families with wonderful knowledge and perspective that are willing to share with others in the same situation. For healthcare professionals, it is an almost impossible task in our current healthcare environment of privacy, time and budget constraints to logistically coordinate connecting parents who can support each other. I’m thrilled we have great parent advocates in our community willing to launch this support group!

This tube feeding support group will be run by parents of children with feeding tubes. Garrett is the parent support group leader and father of a daughter with a feeding tube. He has been a tenacious advocate for his own daughter, Lucy, and has extended that tenacity to the larger community of families who have children with feeding concerns. Garrett has also been involved with Feeding Matters, an advocacy organization for children with feeding struggles. Lucy has struggled with eating by mouth since she started eating solid foods as an infant and currently has a G-tube for her nutritional intake.

If you are interested in learning about Lucy’s feeding story, here is a link to a short video: Meet Lucy.

Topics will initially range from navigating the insurance system, to finding and sharing feeding resources, to effectively collaborating with healthcare professionals (doctors, feeding therapists, dieticians, etc.) for the benefit of children with or who are in the process of the placement of a feeding tube. This support group is primarily for families to share and seek support without the pressures of healthcare professionals’ judgment that may be present in other settings.

The second meeting will be Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 3rd floor in Classroom D & E. They are currently planning to meet once a month.

Garrett has graciously provided his phone number if you have questions. He can be reached at 801-554-0184.

If you know of other community resources in Utah for children with feeding difficulties, please share!