Page 1

A Splash of Color

Giving artists of all abilities the tools and freedom they need to succeed PAGE 3

For supporters of the mission and vision of the Anne Carlsen Center

The enduring legacy of an inspirational life that began a century ago

The Power of Two

Looking back at 10 years of milestones for twin brothers with autism PAGE 4

Fall/Winter 2015

“It was built on love and operated on faith,” said Dr. Anne of the Center. “It provides children with empowerment. Empowerment is going from dependence to independence.”

Many of the students Dr. Anne taught and mentored went on to college and earned advanced degrees.

In recognition for her tireless efforts to advance opportunities for individuals with disabilities, Dr. Anne received the prestigious President’s Trophy as the 1958 Handicapped American of the Year from then Vice President Richard Nixon.








An avid reader, Dr. Anne used every opportunity to educate herself. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, she completed a master’s degree and a doctorate in education.

Dr. Anne’s Jamestown friends presented her with a new Mercury in honor of her presidential award. In 1964 she took a carload of friends to the World’s Fair in New York City.




n Nov. 4, 1915, Anne Helen Carlsen entered the world. A quadruple congenital amputee, she refused to let her physical impairments limit her in any way. During a time when individuals with disabilities were hidden away, she amazed everyone around her with her courage, willpower and self-reliance.

As a child Anne defeated stereotypes, whether in the classroom or on the baseball field. Overcoming obstacles as an adult, she finally fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher. She would go on to be a longtime teacher and administrator at the

Dr. Anne learned to complete an amazing array of tasks using her arm stubs. She had beautiful penmanship. In 2008 her signature was incorporated into the Anne Carlsen Center’s logo.

Dr. Anne was a constant inspiration to students. One of her proudest accomplishments was learning how to drive. “The spirit is a wonderful thing,” she said. “I know what I can do.”

As a young girl, Anne had no problem keeping up with her peers. She learned to swim, play baseball and drive a kiddie cart.













Anne Carlsen Center, developing this organization into a leader in the disability services arena. With her strong national voice, Dr. Anne played a key role in removing barriers for individuals with disabilities. Dr. Anne’s life story inspires us. Her legacy motivates us to never settle for mediocrity ... to provide unparalleled expertise, empowerment and encouragement. Thank you for your role in this life-changing mission! Strengthened by your love, children and adults across North Dakota are following in Dr. Anne’s footsteps, using their God-given talents to touch the world in lasting and meaningful ways. Learn the fascinating stories behind our photos of Dr. Anne by visiting





he holiday season is a time of retrospection for many. We often look back on the people, places and events that have shaped us in unique, lasting ways.

This heritage sets the Anne Carlsen Center apart. Our deeplyestablished roots have given us the strength to widen the scope and reach of our services. We are continually expanding and enhancing our programs in order to address important needs in North Dakota. Our professionals travel the country … and the world … sharing our unique brand of expertise. While we modernize our tools and approaches, we adhere to the principles that have, over the decades, made this organization exceptional.

The Anne Carlsen Center has a rich and meaningful past that inspires us daily to provide the highest quality services with the most compassionate and personalized touch. Inspired by our namesake, Dr. Anne Carlsen, this organization exists to make the world a more inclusive place where independence is a gift to all. Anne Helen Carlsen was born Nov. 4, 1915 in Grantsburg, Wisc. She was the youngest in a family of six children. Born without forearms or lower legs, she was never viewed with pity by her family or community members. She learned to swim and play baseball. Her penmanship was impeccable. From the very beginning, it seemed obvious that Anne—undaunted by challenges—was destined for greatness. Dr. Anne served as teacher, administrator, mentor and consultant for the Center, propelling this organization to national prominence. A world-renowned advocate for persons with disabilities, she championed issues of education and employment, increasing awareness and accessibility in powerful ways. She received prestigious rewards for her many efforts, but the greatest reward—she always said—was seeing the graduates of the Center succeed in all aspects of life. With her courage, skill and pioneering spirit, Dr. Anne left an indelible impact on the world. Alvin C. Strutz, who would become the Chief Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, once said about Anne,“You certainly have helped to make the world a better place in which to live. Your example has been an inspiration. By living a life which has not been lived for yourself alone but for the good that you do for others, you have found the secret of true success.”

This year marks what would have been Dr. Anne’s 100th birthday. Please consider making an end-of-year gift to the Anne Carlsen Center in honor of our namesake and the hope she instilled in hearts and minds during her lifelong career with the Center. What a privilege it is to partner with you in carrying on Dr. Anne’s legacy of empowerment. Together, we equip individuals with disabilities to show the world their invaluable place in the fabric of society. God bless you,

Eric M. Monson Chief Executive Officer Anne Carlsen Center

What do you get when you combine gallons of paint, adaptive art tools, a creative genius and eager participants? You get the Zot Artz Experience, which tapped into the talents of North Dakotans of all ages over the summer.



The Anne Carlsen Center (ACC) partnered with VSA North Dakota, North Dakota Council on the Arts and Wisconsin-based Zot Artz to provide several interactive arts events for individuals of all abilities. Dwayne Szot, an artist and engineer, is the president and founder of Zot Artz. He designs innovative art tools that facilitate creative expression for individuals with or without disabilities. “The tools he has developed bring independence to those who love art and may have been unable to express their creativity without these adaptations,” says Denise Jensen, the Anne Carlsen Center’s recreation coordinator. “People want and need that freedom to create!” A community open house at North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind in Grand Forks drew more than 250 children and adults. A similar event at Annie’s House in Bottineau attracted 60 participants. A workshop in Grand Forks gave 30 individuals—from

It is an age-old tradition recognized by children around the world as Christmas draws near: writing their Christmas “wish list.” Here at the Anne Carlsen Center, we’re working on a list on behalf of some remarkable children and their families. Our list consists of toys and assistive technology that have the power to transform the world of play. Families of children with disabilities sometimes struggle to find toys and activities that are appropriate, accessible and motivating for their child. We promote the many benefits of toys and play through our Lekotek program. The


teaching artists to therapists—the opportunity to learn more about Szot’s tools and techniques, so they can bring those ideas back to their communities.

Participants enjoyed print making, pogo paint pole art and mural making (walking and rolling with paint rollers). Many also had the chance to use the push-handle chalk drawers and bubble machines that attach to wheelchairs. “There is so much color! When you are there, it is such a happy place to be,” says Laurie Skadsem, who oversees the Anne Carlsen Center’s REAL (Recreation, Entertainment, Arts and Leisure) program. “Participants enjoyed the experience of being able to create their own art. Equipped with adaptive tools, they didn’t feel like they were challenged or limited. Everyone went away with a smile!”

Want to see more Art Without Limits? VIEW ARTISTS ’ CREATIONS AT:

Lekotek concept (“lek” means “toy” and “tek” means “library”) comes from Sweden and was started in the United States more than 30 years ago. Lekotek toy lending and guided play sessions began in the spring of 2015 for Grand Forks-area families. We’re excited about the items on our Christmas wish list … and the opportunity you have to partner with us in meeting vital needs for these area children and their families. Watch your mailbox for more details on how you can make this a very Merry Christmas!

Twin boys from Mott making amazing strides on the path to adulthood


onty and Jackie Larson live in farming and ranching country. Their home is in Mott, N.D., and they farm land on the scenic plains of the southwestern part of the state. They grow wheat, sunflower, flax and canola.

Their family grew quickly on Nov. 3, 1995, when they went from being a family of four to a family of six. Four-year-old Justeen and 2-year-old Mandy became big sisters to Marshall and Josh, fraternal twins. While Josh’s delivery went smoothly, it took half an hour for doctors to deliver his twin brother. Due to trauma sustained during delivery, Marshall developed a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood outside the brain caused by a rupture in one or more blood vessels. Marshall spent three weeks in the hospital before he could go home. Despite Marshall’s stressful start in life, he reached the early developmental milestones (such as sitting up and walking) at about the same time as his peers. Josh also seemed to be right on track. Troubling changes The Larsons had a busy household with four young children. Things seemed picture perfect, until the twins started to have some mysterious problems.


“We started noticing the changes in Josh when he was about 18 months old,” remembers Jackie. “He had been speaking—using single words, mainly—and then all of a sudden, he quit talking.”

Similar changes happened to Marshall when he turned 3. “He just stopped using words,” says Jackie. “He had been speaking in full sentences.” There were other puzzling developments, such as the twins’ high tolerance of pain and their extreme reactions to certain foods. Jackie and Monty’s search for answers led them to a child psychiatrist in Bismarck who, after a thorough assessment, diagnosed both boys with autism—the most severe form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Monty and Jackie Larson with their daughters, Justeen and Mandy, and their twin sons, Josh and Marshall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has been identified with ASD, which is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders. ASD can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. “When the boys were diagnosed, we had no clue what autism was,” says Jackie. “There were only 800 people in our town; our boys were the only ones with autism.” Early struggles Parenting twins with autism, the Larsons say, has required a lot of patience and energy. Justeen and Mandy had to grow up quickly. “It was hard for them,” says Jackie. “We couldn’t do a lot of things with them because of the demands of parenting their brothers. But they helped out so much. They did a lot for us. They are wonderful girls.” Continued next page

Josh and Marshall attended MottRegent Elementary School, where special staff was brought in to accommodate the boys’ needs. While the school tried hard to create a suitable learning environment for the twins, it became more difficult as time went on. Both boys struggled with their communication skills, making it difficult for them to express their needs. Frustrated, they sometimes used negative behavior to communicate. “Josh used to be aggressive toward others—biting, pinching or pulling hair,” says Jackie. And Marshall, while sometimes aggressive toward others, would often demonstrate self-abusive behavior such as “biting his own fingers and either banging or slapping his head.” When the school was no longer able to meet Marshall and Josh’s complex needs, the case manager for the Larsons recommended the Anne Carlsen Center (ACC). The Center could provide the twins with specialized residential, therapy and education services, giving them the structure and skill training they needed to thrive. After a tour of the Center, Jackie was impressed but hesitant. “I really liked it, but it was still hard.

It’s hard to think of your children leaving home.” It was 2005, and the twins were 9 years old. They were about to move 200 miles away. “Leaving them at the Anne Carlsen Center was the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” says Monty. “But it was the right thing to do … for them and for us.” Building skills for life The Anne Carlsen Center campus in Jamestown provides residential services to individuals from birth to adulthood. Bedrooms are personalized to enrich each individual’s home life experience, and open living areas provide opportunities to share daily activities such as meals and recreation. One of the first goals for residential staff was to help Josh and Marshall establish routines. Having a dependable schedule helps lower anxiety levels for individuals with autism and gives them a sense of structure. Children with ASD often struggle with toilet training and may need additional guidance and strategies to meet their needs. Members of the ACC residential staff helped the

Josh spends time with Santa, during a special Christmas event at the Center.


twins achieve this milestone, which was one of Jackie and Monty’s biggest goals for their sons. “That was huge,” says Jackie.

Josh has “matured a lot,” say staff. Here, he and ACC’s Kevin Phelps smile for the camera.

Another important area in which the Larsons have seen improvements is in the area of personal safety. Marshall, like many others with autism, is prone to wander away from others and struggles with the concept of personal safety. “Marshall is now more aware of danger. Before, he wouldn’t have thought twice before crossing the road or diving into a river,” says Jackie. “He is getting better. Anne Carlsen Center staff stays close to him on walks and outings.” During the school day, the twins study English language arts, math, science, social studies and adaptive physical education. They are also learning social and leisure skills and daily living skills. Staying on task until completing an activity has been one of the biggest challenges for Josh, according to his special education teacher, Tom Kenna. “Josh is a very active person and would rather be up moving around than sitting down doing academics,” says Kenna. “He learns activities by repetition and having a schedule without many changes. One of

his most significant accomplishments in the classroom has been being able to sit and participate on lessons for the entire time the lesson lasts.” Marshall’s special education teacher, Adie Hobert, says a big emphasis early on in her classroom was developing strategies to help him reduce his aggression toward himself. “We worked on reducing self-injuries. He would have hours-long episodes that would ruin his day,” says Hobert. “Now he might be irritable for about 10 minutes, and then he gets over it. He is learning coping skills and patience.” Josh’s aggressive behaviors have also dramatically declined. “Behaviorally he is completely different from when he first came here,” says Jackie Loepp, one of his former teachers. “Before, he would bite staff multiple times a day. He was so aggressive. Now, there’s none of that. There is a lot of structure to his day and he knows what the expectations are. He’s matured a lot.” Communication channels Speech-language pathologists have helped Marshall and Josh strengthen their communication skills. The twins have learned some sign language and are wellversed with the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), which uses picture symbols and helps individuals gradually develop more complexity in their communication exchanges. Marshall has become increasingly more verbal during his time at the Anne Carlsen Center, which has helped ease his frustrations in the

Marshall enjoys helping keep the ACC gardens looking tidy.

classroom. “Early on he would get upset because he was not able to tell us what he wanted. He would have a meltdown. Then, he started using words and would repeat a word over and over,” says Hobert. “Now, when prompted, he can speak in sentences. He is able to request things from staff and better communicate his needs in the moment.” Josh, who does not communicate verbally, is learning how to use a communication app on the iPad called Proloquo2Go. The app allows users to select images representing words and then produces a naturalsounding voice. Marshall also benefits from assistive technology and can navigate an iPad and laptop computer with minimal assistance in most instances. “He tends to have a shorter attention span for learning activities that require a higher level of focus,” explains Hobert, “and the auditory feedback and graphics hold his attention for greater periods of time.” Preparing for adulthood With each year that goes by, Josh and Marshall become more functional and independent in their daily activities at school, in the home life areas and in the

community. Two weekends a month they go home to Mott to visit their family, and the skills they have gained carry over during those visits. The community integration and vocational training offered by the Anne Carlsen Center is preparing the twins for adulthood through community-based job experiences and social interaction opportunities. Josh is in charge of sorting items on campus for recycling and then hauling them to the local recycling center. He also folds and delivers wash cloths throughout the Center and has a mail route on campus in which he helps retrieve and deliver internal mail.

Tools, like the iPad,

“Josh is an enhance Marshall’s learning in the excellent worker classroom. who can do most all jobs independently and can quickly learn a new vocational task,” says Heather Stickel, an ACC Community Integration Specialist. “He is a joy to work with, and I am glad to have the opportunity to help him learn and grow in his vocational training.” Continued next page


Marshall also plays a role in recycling efforts, helping load boxes and bags of shredding to take to the local recycling center. In addition, he collects recyclable materials from two local hair salons and brings the items back to the Center to be sorted. Stickel says Marshall requires assistance to stay on task but “is very good at loading and unloading the recycling.” Recently, he began helping stock dog food for an area store. Hope for the future The Larson brothers, now 19, have grown in many areas of their lives over the last 10 years at the Anne Carlsen Center. In addition to building critical skills, they have enjoyed many life-changing experiences. “Last year they both got to go to prom, and that was really amazing,” says Jackie. “Marshall was out on the dance floor all night.” As the twins overcome obstacles and gain greater independence, more of their true personalities shine through. “Marshall has an amazing sense of humor that he is quick to share. He also has a very sweet side and will snuggle up to his favorite staff,” says Hobert.

The Larson family is grateful for the many ways ACC team members have transformed their sons’ lives. “They’ve put their heart and soul into helping them,” says Jackie. Monty says everyone at the Center has treated them like family, while showing the utmost professionalism. “Most of the people who work there, they have spent their whole career there,” he says. “We trust them.” When Marshall and Josh graduate from the Anne Carlsen Center in 2017, the Larsons hope they can find an adult services provider close to home. Jackie says while her sons have made remarkable gains, they “will need some assistance in their daily lives.” Because of the many vocational skills Marshall and Josh have developed, Monty says his sons will each “have some meaning to their life.” “We are so happy that North Dakota has the Anne Carlsen Center,” says Jackie. “It’s not the same as having our sons at home with us, but it has been the next best thing.”

Bruce Furness Fargo, N.D.

Michelle Rodgers Hopkins, Minn.

Matthew Hanson New York City, N.Y.

Thomas Rohleder Immediate Past/Former Chair Fargo, N.D.

Harvey Huber Chair Jamestown, N.D. Pat McCullough Treasurer Loretto, Minn. Robert Montgomery, M.D. Fargo, N.D. Sue Offutt, Ph.D. Cashton, Wisc. Nicole Poolman Bismarck, N.D.

Ray Brady is one of many individuals benefitting from your generosity. The Fargo boy has autism, and he has struggled with his social and communication skills. Attending one of our social skills camps helped him improve his ability to interact appropriately with his peers. “He made friends at camp,” says his mom, Talitha. “It was awesome. He talked all day about what they did!” Thank you for recognizing the impact of each of these programs on self-esteem, confidence and independence. The focus is always on what each individual CAN do—and as we’ve seen countless times, they can do so much!

Reesa Webb Centennial, Colo. Myra Quanrud, M.D. Ex Officio Jamestown, N.D.

SENIOR MANAGEMENT Eric Monson Chief Executive Officer

Sam Brownell Information Technology Director

Tim Eissinger Chief Operating Officer – Jamestown Campus

Allan Hartmann Chief Financial Officer

Jody Vigness Senior Director of Community Based Services Margie Johnson Human Resource Director

Patrick Kirby Chief Development Officer Kresha Wiest Director of Mgmt. Systems Stephanie Nelson Director of Ideation Center

Patrick Kirby

Rachel Schafer

Jeannie Camarillo

Tracy Denning

Michelle Walker

Logan Little

Chief Development Officer

Associate Development Director

Fresh air, sunshine and fun with friends! Our camps and adaptive recreation opportunities equip individuals to savor every precious minute of summer. Donors gave gifts totaling more than $33,200 to our Summer Camp Appeal, helping provide the adaptive equipment, assistive technologies and highlytrained staff that set the Anne Carlsen Center apart.

Casey Stoudt Vice Chair Jamestown, N.D.


“Josh is a very fun-loving person who has a great smile and laugh,” says Kenna.

A Summer to Remember

Janet Seaworth Secretary Bismarck, N.D.

Enjoying and Exploring Nature … Thanks to YOU! Donors gave nearly $8,300 to our Back to School Appeal, supporting educational activities that stimulate the senses, provide therapeutic benefits, and build vital skills for daily living. Students like Amanda Galbreath are discovering the many talents they can contribute to the world around them. A member and co-secretary of the Montpelier Pioneers 4-H Club, she daily demonstrates the many abilities of someone who has cerebral palsy and who utilizes a wheelchair. Our team members are helping Amanda improve her communication and mobility skills, giving her even greater confidence as she shows her (awardwinning!) livestock in 4-H competitions. Amanda also helps plant, maintain and harvest Anne Carlsen Center gardens full of vegetables. Your generosity helps ensure a wide array of hands-on, lifeenhancing learning opportunities for remarkable individuals across the state. Amanda and her friends are so grateful for your role in making their dreams come true!

Associate Development Director

Development Operations Coordinator

Development Support Specialist

Communications Manager

Felicia Sargeant

Associate Development Director

THE AMBASSADOR Published by: Anne Carlsen Center 701 3rd St. N.W., P.O. Box 8000 Jamestown, ND 58402 1-800-568-5175

Notice of NonDiscrimination Policy: Anne Carlsen Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or disability in employment or services.

Brenda Tappert, Editor

If you would like to be removed from our mailing list, please call 1-800-568-5175, ext. 1015.

Logan Little, Assistant Editor Paul Johnson, Designer The Ambassador is mailed, free of charge, for supporters of the mission and vision of the Anne Carlsen Center. On the cover, we honor Dr. Anne Carlsen’s commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities. The cover art is created by combining images of ACC students and clients to create an inspiring portrait of our namesake.

Eco-friendly Ambassador The Ambassador is printed on an environmentally-certified paper. Each page has a 10% postconsumer waste content, and the inks utilized are Soy Inks.


The Anne Carlsen Center partners each year with businesses who share our passion for equipping children, adults and families to lead lives of empowerment and independence. We are grateful for the commitment and compassion demonstrated by each of these Community Partners.

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID FARGO, ND Permit #684

701 3rd St. N.W. P.O. Box 8000 Jamestown, ND 58402

Connect with the Anne Carlsen Center on Facebook Become a fan, learn about upcoming events, and share your memories with fellow friends of the Center.

The Ambassador: Fall/Winter 2015  

Always Anne - The Enduring Legacy of an Inspirational Life that Began a Century Ago

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