Sunday, August 29, 2010


Rosie would be proud of me...
...cus I've joined the work force!

As a recent grad, and in preparation for grad school,
I felt this year was a good time
to start working and building my resumé.
I'd like to get my masters in Marriage Family Therapy,
then get my PPS certificate to be a counselor to little children.
...and in preparation for that...
I just finished my first week of work at
Foothill Elementary as an
Autism Aide!

I am technically an employee of Wasatch Mental Health.
They have a set-up with Alpine School District
which allows them to use their facilities.
it's like we're a part of the school,
but we also do our own thing.
There are 3 classrooms at Foothill Elementary
with each class having 12 kids,
1 teacher,
and 5 aides.

The Autism program is called Giant Steps.
It was started in 1997
and has been a huge success with more
than 100 kids on the waiting list.
The children are ages 3-5 and are divided
based on skill level instead of age.

I have been assigned to the lowest functioning level,
so I get all the sweet little ones just beginning the program
or returning for a second year.

Our day consists of activities like:
work sessions
bathroom (potty training haha)
play time
The classroom is such a happy atmosphere. Colorful posters, cubbies of toys and paint, charts of activities for that day, miniature chairs, and then add 11 small bodies, backpacks and pairs of shoes and it's a party!
Every day, there are 4-5 very organized sessions
where we work with the kids to teach them
general things like letters, numbers, and colors.
Then we practice more specialized things like
sitting still with feet on the ground and hands in lap, quiet voices,
learning how to point their finger, use sign-language, imitate simple actions,
and follow basic instructions like "stand up", "color the picture", or "push the toy car."
For example:
One "work session" may consist of first beginning with teaching the child to sit with feet on the ground for three seconds. They are then immediately rewarded by an option of two reinforcers,
like cereal or a toy. They have to point their finger and sign "please" to receive the reinforcer. This step alone may take quite a few weeks to really 'get down'. Gradually we work up to adding having hands in lap, being quiet, and eye contact.
The eye contact has been the most interesting step for me to watch a child learn. The simple act of responding to their name being called and being able to look you in the eye for 3 seconds with feet on the floor and hands in lap and not making noise is huge!

Being my first week, I experienced a lot of 'firsts' and already it's such a blur.
You have to chart the simplest activities that show improvement, I can tell it is going to be a slower process, but so rewarding. I hope I never forget the first moment of success I had in one of my work sessions where a little boy had feet down, hands in lap, quiet voice and looked me straight in the eye for three seconds. It was such a thrill I just know I'm in the right place.

After living alone for two weeks I am absolutely soaking up every ounce of love these children give me. They hug with open love and when they laugh...the sound is pure happiness.
One little boy got the HUGEST kick out of a toy phone as one of his reinforcers.
He would push the button and Buzz Lightyear's voice would sound
and he just laughed and laughed. I picked up that he likes anything that makes noise,
so the other day on the play ground I ran my nails along the metal fence and said,
"Listen. Noise." That's all it took. He got a huge smile, imitated my action and, laughing, said,
"Noise! Noise!" over and over. Simple pleasures.
I am SO blessed and excited to work this year with these children.

The soul is healed by being with children.
English Proverb

Saturday, August 21, 2010


So, do you ever have those moments in your family
where you ask yourself...why?

I found some old photos. Good examples of the
many many times I've asked myself 'why' through the years.
Why do brothers like to scare their sisters?
Why did dad used to make us wear zink-oxide
on our noses?
Why do we think we're funny?
Why the cup of water to the face?
Always with the splashing.
Why do I love this boy so much?
Why would one think to do this?
Why is this fun?
Why bagpipes?
Why didn't I think of this particular photo-op?
Why not?

I stopped asking why a long time ago...
and just joined in with the laughter.
Except when I ask myself.
"Why am I so dang blessed with the best family ever?!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let's get together...

...and party!

I'm back in Utah and some of my sweet friends,
knowing I'm in my apt. alone till the roommies come back for school,
have invited me to get together with them and play.
Sally had a dinner party at her house.
We all sat on pillows around a table mat on the ground.
Green salad, fruit salad, baked sweet potatoes and scones.
Then Linds got married!
Lindsay and I lived in VP appartments together two years ago.
Ironically, she and Joe just bought a house that is quite literally "a stones's throw" from my place. I can look out my window and see their back porch where we sometimes hang out and talk because their AC is non-existent.
That's ok. India toughened me up against heat.
Hailey and I drove up to Draper to spend a little bit of time with our childhood friend Christy on her 24th birthday. Her sister took us and all 5 of her kids to John's Incredible Pizza, where we ate, rode go-carts, and just caught up. If it's your birthday you are 'required' to wear the bigyellow sticker that says "It's My Birthday!" so everyone can wish you a happy birthday over and over. Not surprisingly, it did just that. Yeah Christy!
Childhood friends like that just know you to the soul.
No explanations, no hesitations, no secrets.
Ooh, then I was invited to go Friday night with friends to the Jack Johnson concert in S.L.
Marin, Me, Kate and Brandon.
I didn't realize this, but Usana Stadium is outdoors.
A perfect summer night with chill beach music on a night of a meteor shower was just too fun.
Funnily enough, I was explaining to Hailey Thursday how I was going to the Jack Johnson concert and I didn't even have any of his music because for some reason I just wasn't the biggest fan. She thought it was funny I was even going, but I just wanted to give it a try and see what he was like live, and just get together with friends if nothing else.
He was SO good!
Totally changed my opinion of him. Needless to say, I will shortly own his newest CD.

Thanks friends for all the fun get-togethers!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I'll Walk with You

If you don't walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won't! I won't!

If you don't talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won't! I won't!

I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.

Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev'ryone.
So I will! I will!

Jesus blessed all he could see,
Then turned and said, "Come, follow me."
And I will! I will!
I will! I will!

I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.

My little brother Call has been working at Mesa Vista. This is a home for mentally challenged adults and youth. He wakes them up, gets them all clean, dressed and ready for the day, then feeds them breakfast. Other shifts allow him to spend more time visiting with them during their activities and everyday he learns more about each person he interacts with, their differences, quirks, personal habits and preferences, and their own unique individual spirits.
Call has told me story after story of the highs and lows of working with a sometimes challenging population. But Call by far sees, in his mind, more highs than lows. He has a special way of seeing these people and he feels an understanding for their hearts and minds.
A few weeks back, our family was at a reunion in Idaho. Two of the extended family members had children with similar handicaps as the people he works with. He had such an easy way about him when he was talking with them both. He would look up and catch my eye as I watched him and that classic "Call smile" would break over his face and I could't help but think how happy the Savior must be to see his children loving one another like that.

I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.

I was so proud to be his sister,
to see my little Call being such an example to me
of how to love.

~I love you Call~

*Recommended reading: "Those Who Are Different" by Elder Marlin K. Jensen. (Click on the Title.) Featured in THE ENSIGN OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS---August 2010.