Anniversary E-Newsletter October 2019

Fund Development

Contributed by Michelle Smith, Fund Development & Communications

October is A Step Ahead’s 18th birthday celebration! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information about our birthday celebration starting October 1st – 18th!

It’s that time of year again where we interview families to document their incredible stories!  We would love to get together to hear your story and learn about some of your family’s challenges and successes. We feature these wonderful stories in our newsletters, Annual Auction, Facebook, and our marketing brochures such as the annual report.  If you’re interested, please contact Michelle Smith to schedule your interview today!

We’re constantly looking for great articles and other content to share on our social media sites. If you come across something fabulous, please send it to Michelle at or @AStepAheadKids through Facebook messenger.

ASAPC Featured on Pierce County Blog!

It was 2016 when Taylor first noticed that her 12-month old baby, Kael, may be experiencing some delays in his development. From the beginning, Kael was upset by loud noises and did not like being around crowds. When he wasn’t babbling or making some of the expected noises babies make, Taylor brought him to the pediatrician’s office for an evaluation. Kael was referred to a speech therapist who thought that he would benefit from seeing specialized providers in the Early Intervention Program. The family was referred to A Step Ahead Pierce County (ASAPC), an Early Intervention provider that serves children ages birth to three who have one or more developmental delays or a diagnosis with high probability of developmental delay.

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Vision Strategies contributed by by Colleen Oakes, Teacher of the Visually Impaired

From Birth to about 4 months

Face to face contact (8-10 inches) with your baby during feeding, bathing, changing, and general cuddle time. Encourage eye contact by singing and talking to your baby.

Make sure your baby has something interesting to look at during quiet, low light times—such as when falling asleep and waking up. Place a baby mirror, glowing toy, high contrast mobile where the baby can see it—within about 10-14 inches.

From about 5 to 8 months

Use contrast and light to make visual targets easy to see. Try lighted toys in a low light room or provide good task lighting from a lamp to highlight a visual target. Use plain, contrasting backgrounds to help your baby distinguish what you want them to see.

Provide lots of opportunities to play with toys that roll, float, bounce: balls, balloons, bubbles. This will encourage visual tracking and scanning skills and attention to full visual fields.

Face to face contact (10-16 inches) sing nursery rhymes and finger plays with your baby and help them do the movements.

Talk to your baby as you move around the room to encourage them to visually track.

Narrate the world for your baby, Let them hold objects from daily routines, such as a clean diaper (!), washcloth, socks, safe food items, and name the objects and tell your baby what’s happening.

From about 9 to 12 months

Make a simple photo album by printing out a few pictures of family members, pets, toys, and/or places and use it to say good morning and good night. Can also use to tell your baby stories about their day.

Introduce books with lyrics from favorite nursery rhymes and finger plays.

Encourage eye contact by holding motivating toys/food by your face and asking your baby to look at you.

If you have any concerns about your baby’s vision, please have your provider contact me to schedule a consult. For babies 6-12 months of age, the Infant See program will help locate optometrists to do a free vision screening, or you can see an ophthalmologist.  


Contributed by the Family Resources Coordinators at A Step Ahead

Orting Pumpkin Fest

FREE EVENT  Saturday October 12th, 2019 10am to 5pm at Orting City Park

The Orting Pumpkin Fest produced by the Tacoma Events Commission, is one of the great annual events for the Puget Sound.   This is one of those fall events that many return to as we celebrate autumn and all the fun that comes with it.  There are stages of entertainment, car show, “Little Pumpkin Pals Parade,” lots of food, arts and crafts and a fun kids zone with games, bounce houses and more. 

The Little Pumpkin Pals Parade is open to kids in pumpkin-themed costumes to parade on the Foothills Trail from the Bell Tower to Car Show and back to the gazebo. Prizes will be awarded to all children who enter the parade.

Check in for judging and entries will be done at the info booth by the bell tower.

Raising Resilient Children Workshop

Tuesday Play Days at CMoT

Every Tuesday morning from 10 – 11:30 a.m.

The Museum is open every Tuesday morning* exclusively for families with children who have special needs. This family program is drop in, with no reservation required. Admission is Pay As You Will. For more information, contact Miranda Owen at or 253.627.6031 ext. 228.

Watch Northwest Now on KBTC and learn more about the program.

Pacific Science Center Exploration for All

Exploration for All invites all families affected by autism spectrum disorder to PacSci for a special free visit. Monthly events take place either in the morning from 8-10 a.m. or in the evening visit from 6:30-8:30 p.m. During Exploration for All, PacSci is not open to the public and guests are asked to enter through the North Entrance.

Experience our exhibits without heavy crowds in a setting that is specifically for those affected by autism spectrum disorder. During Exploration for All, PacSci softens the general lighting, as well as and decreases the noise level and visual stimulation on interactive exhibits wherever possible. Additional accessibility resources can be found below.

We also provide additional captioning devices in one of our IMAX theaters and printed copies of our sensory guide for guests, including maps of our exhibit spaces rated for noise level, visual stimulation, availability to touch and feel and strong odors. We’re also creating a wheels accessible map that outlines accessible pathways. Check back for information on the wheels accessible map.

We are grateful to Seattle Children’s for their generous support of Exploration for All.

Meet Our Staff

Emilce Allen, Office Assistant

Tell us about your background and/or education?

Born and raised in Argentina where I lived through my youth years; I grew up in a very small town and having both sides of the family very close by.  I was privileged to earn Christian education in High School and College. Graduated from River Plate Adv. College with a degree in Administrative Secretary.   Moved to the States in 2001 as an au-pair, to live with a delightful family that I’m still keep in touch with. In 2008 I started attending Pierce College and eared a degree as an Interpreter, which I have been practicing and enjoying since 2009 when I started own my business.  Parallel to interpreting, I also worked as a Secretary at the church my husband and I attend.  It was through interpreting for an ASAPC provider, that got me the privilege to learn about this wonderful organization, which now I’m part of, since 2017.  In January of 2018 I was happy to receive my USA Citizenship, which I hold as a high privilege.

Describe a typical “day at the office” for you?

At the office my main responsibility is to help our accountant, with the billing for the County.  It is by gathering all hours of service that providers do in a weekly basis, that I’m able to complete my part of monthly billing.  As interpreter on site, often I’m able to provide services for evaluations here at the office, as well as interpreting for meetings with families off site.  If time allows it, I’m always willing to help others, with filling, faxing, phone calls in Spanish, or whatever the need might be.

What do you like about ASAPC?

ASAPC is a family, that’s what it feels like from the inside.  We care for families and kiddos in the community, as well as we care for each other with the same love and concern.

Any funny/best stories to share?

Funniest story ever…  Since my family couldn’t attend our wedding, my husband and I, went to Argentina a few months after the wedding, so my family could meet him. Of course, none of them could talk to him in English so I was ‘the interpreter’ everywhere we went. After attending church service, one of the members came up to us and started to talk in English, but I was so automatically interpreting everything and everywhere, that I continue interpreting from English to English…  until my husband stopped and looked at me… and told me: “she is speaking in English” … we had a good laugh, and is still a funny story of my early interpreting days.

Michael Luckey, Family Resources Coordinator

Tell us about your background and/or education?

Hello all, this Michael. I have an A.A. from Baltimore County Community College. I then transferred to The Evergreen State College, after moving here from Baltimore. There I received my Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. After college, I worked for the Northwest Center in Seattle, running the school-age program. I moved to Las Vegas in 2010, where I worked for Positively Kids Early Intervention as a Special Educator for nearly four years. After my family decided to move back to Washington State, to Kitsap County, I worked for Holly Ridge Center Early Intervention as a Parent Educator & FRC, contracted through Early Head Start. After leaving there, I came to work for A Step Ahead in Pierce County as an FRC in April 2018.

Describe a typical “day at the office” for you?

A typical day at the office includes lots of paperwork, data entry, communication with families & providers, and meeting with families for reviews, intakes, & transition meetings.

What do you like about ASAPC?

There are many things to like about ASAPC. First off, I love my FRC team. I think we have the best FRC’s in the state, and I don’t think it’s close. Second, it is great to be at a place where your voice is heard & respected.  Nellie is great at teaching us what we need to be excellent FRC’s but also listens to & incorporates our ideas & suggestions that help our team exceed.  Across the whole ASAPC team, I feel we are a safe place for people to openly be heard & acknowledged.  Finally, I simply like what I do. I feel like I am in the best position & company for me to succeed.

Any funny/best stories to share?

In my early 20’s, I was often mistaken for being much younger than I was. My girlfriend (who also looked very young) & I were asked numerous times if we were going to the prom that year, much to her annoyance. I was asked if I was old enough to drive or vote. The best one was in my late 20’s. I was 27 & with some friends at a bowling alley. Apparently at 11:00PM, no one under 18 was permitted. My cousin drove & I forgot my driver’s license at home. So, as they were clearing out the teenagers, they came up to me & asked for I.D. I did not have it but explained I was 27. My friends did too. Nonetheless, I was kicked out of the bowling alley for not meeting the age requirement.

Anything else you want to share?

At our team retreat, you all might remember that, according to the personality quiz we all took; I was on the rebel team. Of course, I am now the only “rebel” left.  Anyway, my quote from the retreat was “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” Which I love. However, my favorite quote ever is a variation of a famous George Bernard Shaw quote “The reasonable person adapts to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to change the world.”

Sheryl Jakobsen, Speech-Language Pathologist

Tell us about your background and/or education?

I am the eldest of 6 children and have always been around lots of children. From a young age I decided that I wanted to be in a helping profession and that I wanted to work with children.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry with an emphasis in Pre-Med from CSU Chico as my original intention was to become a pediatrician. After college I took some time off and decided that I wanted a career that allowed me more time to work with each child regularly, as well as give me the opportunity to build relationships with children and families. I received my Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Washington as part of the inaugural Medical Speech Pathology program.

I have been practicing as a speech-language pathologist for just over 11 years now.  I love working with the birth-3 age range and have been working at ASAPC for over 8 ½ years.  My areas of interest include motor speech disorders, feeding development, and Autism.

Describe a typical “day at the office” for you?

A typical day at the office involves more than 50% of my day out of the office.  I’m usually out seeing children and their families. My car is my moving office and is VERY disorganized, having a large variety of toys and activities that I like to share with my families.

When I am in the office, I am usually completing eligibility evaluations for new children referred to the program with communication and/or feeding concerns. I do spend some of my time in the office each week at my desk writing reports or completing other paperwork. Anyone at work who knows me, knows that I would rather be out doing home visits than doing paperwork.

What do you like about ASAPC?

Everyone at ASAPC is focused on doing what is best for the children and families with whom we work. We have a culture that embraces diversity and recognizes the importance of work-life balance.  I love that we are focused on collaboration among all disciplines and focusing our intervention on research and evidence-based practice.

Any funny/best stories to share?

Several years ago, I worked with a little girl who was the baby in the family.  Both of her siblings were in high school and she looked up to both so much.  Older brother and sister happened to be home from school due to in-service one day when I was there for our weekly session at 9 am. The little one kept looking back in the direction of their bedrooms more distracted than I had ever seen her.  Finally, when she heard them moving around in their rooms, she got up to go check on her siblings. I kept hearing her say their names and “come on” very urgently. Once they came into the living room where I was the little girl ran past them to me, held out both her arms toward me emphatically and said “SEE!!!!” to her siblings. It was so flattering and heartwarming to me that she had waited all morning to “show off” her friend and speech therapist to her teenage siblings.  It is a memory I treasure so much.

Anything else you want to share?

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  -George Bernard Shaw