Amy Henningsen is an occupational therapist at Utah State University’s Center for Person’s With Disabilities. Last month, the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation recognized her for the work she has done with many families in Northern Utah.
The award highlights the specific ways she has helped children with Down Syndrome during the important developmental time for them their first three to five years.
“That’s just the critical learning period for all of us,” Henningsen said, “but especially for our little ones that are more challenged. So if we can teach them some of those basic skills and cause and effect relationships, and task completion, then they’re so much more able to develop and have those skills when they go into the school setting.”
Every day Amy deals with families who, like all of us, expect the birth of perfect, healthy children, only to learn their child was born with developmental delays.
“It’s a hard thing to deal with,” she continued, “and you go through those stages of grief and I think from the outside sometimes it’s difficult to say ‘Oh, no big deal; what a cute little kiddo you have here’.
“But on the flip side of that there is a grieving process and needs to be respected and nurtured.”
Amy’s final, overarching goal is to make sure the children are included in their families and communities. If a specialized bike or motorized car can help with that goal, great—but the child’s inclusion is the important thing.