Iris’ Story

I pray that you are healthy, safe and at peace as we continue to face unprecedented challenges.
Through your 2020 partnership, thousands of people were supported during these turbulent pandemic
times… Women and men found pathways to addiction recovery, students improved academically
by addressing their mental health needs, and families established independence through affordable
housing. Thank you for your continued investment in our work. We are proud to count you among our
mission champions. Your latest gift is making a difference! And your gift today will help to ensure a year of hope and new beginnings for children and families. It is through your loving support that a sweet two year old girl named Iris was able to overcome tremendous obstacles, learn new skills, and live a more independent and fulfilled life. Iris, an otherwise engaged and expressive child with a love for birds, was not talking at all. Her pediatrician tested her hearing, and found no problems. But Iris was not using words. Her parents
could tell when she needed something, but they didn’t always know what. “Iris would go to the refrigerator, put her hand on the door, and cry,” said mom, Elizabeth. “We were so discouraged because our attempts to get her to use words just frustrated Iris and made her cry harder.” Iris’s family enrolled in an LSS early intervention program for pre-schoolers. The immediate goal identified by Iris’s family was to find a way for her to communicate. LSS therapist, Laurie, introduced sign language.

Eager to learn and use signs, Iris found a new way to communicate her basic needs and her family could better respond to and support their little girl. In several weeks, Iris was less frustrated and her family was happy that she was now able make her needs known. Not surprisingly, one of the first signs Iris learned was “bird”.
Using the program’s coaching model, Laurie taught Iris’s parents how to pair signs to words so Iris could understand that words, like signs, have meaning. When Iris made the sign for “cup” a family member would pick up the cup, hold it near their mouth and say the word cup. “Laurie helped us understand how important it was to make sure Iris could see our mouth making the word,” said Elizabeth.
Iris’s family was very encouraging. It took several months and a great deal of patience, but eventually, Iris began to use words…except for the word of her favorite animal – bird. Laurie asked the family to meet at a local pet store so Iris could get “up close and personal” with a bird and make the connection to the word “bird”. Sure enough, Iris pointed and joyfully exclaimed, “Bird!”
“Little celebrations lead to big accomplishments,” says Laurie. “Before too long, Iris had found her voice, and there was no stopping her.”
LSS empowers people of all ages to overcome whatever obstacles they face and to thrive living their healthiest, safest, most independent and fulfilling life. Your investment plays a critical role in helping change lives like Iris’s and all those we serve. Make 2021 a year of hope and new beginnings by contributing today!

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In 2022, LSS will celebrate 140 years of service to Wisconsin and Upper Michigan residents. If at any time LSS made an impact on your life or the life of someone you love, please share it here.

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