Nico’s ABA Class
Applied Behavior Analysis class (ABA). When Alma and her son Nico walked through the door of the classroom, they were warmly greeted by behavior technicians Kaecey Lockridge and Omar Luna.
Throughout class time, Kaecey and Omar helped Nico practice making eye contact and articulating words. Nico practiced eye contact by rolling a ball to Kaecey while looking directly at her. As for pronouncing words, Omar and Kaecey praised Nico just as much for effort as for success. Sometimes Nico would say the words well, but other times it was difficult. Each time Omar encouraged him with a “good try!” or “love the effort!” During snack time, Nico stood at the refrigerator and Omar and Kaecey made him “work” for his snack by having him tell them what he wanted, instead of yelling and having them guess his desires.
Nico’s social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, and asking for help, have improved over the past six months. Nico took turns building stack towers with Kaecey and was able to say “my turn.” At one point, he got excited and threw his tower on the ground. They noticed that was about to say and sign “help, please” to Omar.
This moment between child and teacher demonstrates an awesome teaching style in the Children’s Village staff. Effort is always praised as much as success. They realize that children are not going to get it right on the first go, but the staff is patient and encouraging at every step. This practice makes children of all abilities feel that they, too, are capable of improving and succeeding at whatever they want to accomplish.
One of the ways that individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia show anxiety or agitation is in their hands. They will begin to fidget, restlessly pulling at clothes or blankets, wringing their hands, or rubbing their hands together. Fidget blankets are one way to help restore calm.
Compass Care has a quilters club that has begun making what we call “fidget blankets” for our Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. About 20 of them have been given out so far, and they have made a huge difference for patient quality of life. One patient was very unresponsive and just picked at her clothing. She did not respond verbally to anyone and did not make eye contact with people. We gave her a fidget blanket and she immediately brightened, looked up, smiled and got a twinkle in her eye. She held the blanket, rubbed the silk edge and played with the gadgets. What a surprise for staff and what a difference in that patient’s life. We are deeply grateful for the time and effort our local quilters put into their works of art which help calm so many of our hospice patients!
Terry Martin – Breast Cancer Survivor
Terry Martin had just retired, on Sept. 24, 2016, and received her first retirement check after 30 years as an English professor at Central Washington University. Two weeks later, after her annual mammogram, she received unfortunate news. But, considering the alternative, she says, “How lucky that I go in for my mammogram each year!”
After finishing treatments and chemotherapy she says, “I’m going to hit the reset button and start over. When I met with my oncologist recently I asked her whether at this point I can say, ‘I had cancer.’ After all, I didn’t know I had it when all this began, so how can I believe I don’t have it now, right?” She said that while they’ve gotten everything they could see, and zapped areas likely to have microscopic traces, “using the past tense like this wouldn’t really be accurate. What I can say is that I have had cancer, and that I am now in remission.” Terry had invasive ductal carcinoma; late stage and in three sites. Her treatment included a lumpectomy, surgery to remove the tumor and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it. “I felt very supported through the whole process, and it’s not just North Star Lodge; that kind of care started at `Ohana. I really trusted my doctors and the staff. I love Dr. (Vicky) Jones and Dr. (Cheryl) Davison; I like smart women who are good at what they do. And my surgeon, Peter Young (at Cascade Surgical Partners); I felt I was in such skilled hands. When I walked into North Star Lodge, I’d cross those healing waters out front — I felt it. And I felt very fortunate to get to stay home for my treatment. This has changed me in ways I don’t even understand yet. I find myself in a sorority I never meant to pledge. Hope. That’s my word. I just held hope for the whole thing.”
Dale Meck, Daddy Boot Camp
The living room at Dale Meck’s house is packed: changing table, diapers, toys. The kitchen? More toys, sippy cups, a teething ring on the kitchen island, where there is also a baby in a booster seat. “We’re fully loaded now,” says Dale of his houseful: wife Kate, daughter Evelyn, now 9 months, and son Arthur, 3½. “In one year I got a wife, a house and kids, and I changed jobs. It happened all at once.”
Dale, 32, quickly went from rookie daddy to pro status. Now he leads Virginia Mason Memorial’s Daddy Boot Camp, part of VMM’s childbirth education classes.
“I went to the class for the same reason almost all the guys go: their partner signs them up.” But Dale learned the basics: how to change a diaper, hold a baby’s head, swaddle, and more. He felt ready. “It’s a pretty powerful moment when the nurses leave and it’s ‘WAHHHHH!’ You realize this new person is 100% dependent on you. Also, dads need to know that you’re taking two new people home from the hospital: a new baby and a new mom. You’ve got to be patient.”
Armed with experience, Dale, with Arthur in tow, returned to class as a veteran, and later as Daddy Boot Camp leader.
“The ideal class is veteran dads, their babies, and the rookie dads. It’s hands-on. The guys come out of class and they’ve held a baby, they’ve seen a diaper change, they’ve had the chance to ask ‘guy questions.’ The veterans set the tone: they hand their baby over to one of the rookies and say, ‘Hey, you want to change this diaper?’ That’s how it works. It’s a cool deal. Guys don’t need to be told how to be a dad — that comes naturally, and we all have our own style, but it’s sure helpful knowing what worked, what to try, and what to watch out for.”