Memories of Amy

By JoLynne Lyon | April 23, 2024

The Institute lost a family member this month with the passing of Amy Henningsen, an occupational therapist and assistive technology practitioner who worked with our Up to 3 program for 32 years. Over that time, she worked with children and their families, built assistive devices for them from the ground up, and played with the children she served with an infectious joy. She didn’t just love playing with the kids. She loved the kids, period, and her energy seemed inexhaustible.

Below are memories contributed from our staff, who also contributed a number of photos to a slideshow in tribute to Amy. We miss her!

Read more about Amy in her obituary.


Bess Dennison, SKI-HI Institute

I had the privilege of working together with Amy in early intervention for over 30 years, she as the occupational therapist and I as the vision service provider.  The children we worked together with had visual impairments and additional disabilities.  Amy loved the infants and toddlers she served and their families.  She was playful, kind and a skilled professional.  I learned a lot from her about positioning and handling the little ones with motor impairments in such a way that they were more easily able to use their eyes and hands together to play with toys and materials.  She was creative in designing adaptations for little ones who needed to learn how to do things in a different way. Amy introduced me to the Assistive Technology Lab at Utah State University and taught me to feel comfortable in using their services for my families.  She let me know that I did not have to always go through her.  She was good at role sharing, which is important in Early Intervention.  Amy was always positive and encouraging with families and others. She is greatly missed. 


Kelly Smith

During my time at the IDRPP, I had the opportunity to photograph Amy working with children many times, and she treated every one of them as if they were her top priority. She saw potential in every child, and I cannot begin to tell you how much time and effort she put into developing low-tech AT to stimulate interaction and help with mobility. Every parent who had contact with Amy spoke in glowing terms of the help she gave to the entire family. She honestly loved every child she ever helped. Amy truly left a legacy of little footprints behind her from so many children whose lives were impacted in big ways.

Erica Lundahl, Employability Clinic

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have known Amy for the past 18 years. Our family's introduction to her occurred when my son Dillon was enrolled in the Up to 3 Program. 

At just 10 months old, Dillon had recently been diagnosed with Schizencephaly, a rare condition where part of his brain did not develop. During this uncertain and daunting time, Amy became an integral part of our lives as we navigated the challenges ahead.  The doctors had emphasized the need for extensive physical and occupational therapies, and thus began our journey with Amy and the Up to 3 Program. 

Amy's presence was a beacon of positivity and support during a time when we needed it most. Her infectious and uplifting attitude made a profound impact from the very beginning.  I vividly recall the day she arrived at our home for Dillon's first OT visit, exuding warmth with a beaming smile, contagious laugh and a handful of toys. Her boundless energy, genuine kindness, and pure excitement were immediately felt by all of us. Dillon was captivated by her presence, and in no time, it felt as though we had known her for years. 

Her weekly visits became highly anticipated, with Dillon eagerly awaiting her arrival from the couch.  She had a unique ability to engage him in activities that felt like play, all the while making incredible strides in his progress. With Amy he achieved so much in such a short time. 

Even after Dillon transitioned out of the Up to 3 Program, our connection with Amy endured. She remained a constant source of support, regularly checking in on our family's well-being. Amy went above and beyond, arranging hippotherapy lessons for Dillon and attending his sporting events as a cheering presence. Her support extended to accompanying me to his IEP meetings where her encouragement and advocacy were invaluable. 

Years later, when Amy rejoined the IDRPP she came down to visit me in my office. Once again, she was asking all about my family and how we were doing. She was such a caring and genuine person. Her presence had a remarkable ability to light up any room, and her beautiful smile never failed to brighten our days. I am so grateful for the friendship we had and the impact she had on my son Dillon's life. Her absence will be deeply felt. 

Marilyn Hammond, Utah Assistive Technology Program

Amy was a remarkable individual who was generous, loving, compassionate, witty, selfless, talented, and courageous.  She spent her career providing the best services possible for children with disabilities and their families and her life making things better for everyone around her.  She will be greatly missed by her many friends and family members.

George Joeckel, WebAIM

I’ll always remember our morning chats. Until we meet again.

Matthew Wappett, IDRPP Executive Director

I remember Amy with a heart full of warmth for the immense kindness and dedication she brought to her work as an early intervention provider at the USU IDRPP.  My first encounter with Amy was in the AT Lab here in Logan. There, surrounded by tools and boundless creativity, she wasn't just working – she was building possibility. Her focus wasn't on limitations, but on crafting a custom chair that would empower one of the young children she was serving to be more independent and included in his family and community. This simple, creative act was emblematic of her approach to serving the young kids she worked with.  Amy possessed a remarkable ability to see beyond challenges and to envision solutions…even if they didn’t exist.  We still find all sorts of devices and contraptions around the office that she created to provide support for the kids and families she served. Her boundless spirit and innovative thinking ensured that every child she worked with received not just support, but a path towards a brighter and more independent future. Her absence leaves a void, but her legacy of kindness and creative problem-solving will continue to inspire all of us who had the privilege of working with her here at the IDRPP.

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