Mary Martha Tripeny had one of the best days ever at the Life Skills Clinic this year.
Her 20-year-old son Fred is mostly nonverbal and has limited mobility due to cerebral palsy and autism. He had multiple brain surgeries as a baby and has spent nearly all of his life unable to care for himself in any way.
That was until the Tripenys met Marilyn Schneider, director of the Life Skills Clinic. The clinic, located at the University of Utah, provides therapy to help clients like Fred improve coordination, balance, eating, sleeping, and self-care. It leverages the clinical expertise of University of Utah faculty who supervise and train students studying to join the occupational therapy profession.
Five years of weekly work with Schneider and her team later, Fred can open a refrigerator, wear mittens, and even plan a birthday party.
“My birthday was coming up and Fred was like ‘birthday party, birthday party, birthday party,’” Tripeny said. “Marilyn asked, ‘should we throw your mom a birthday party?’ and he said ‘yes, yes, yes.’ They planned it together; he was very involved in telling her through Blue’s Clues that there should be presents and cake.”