Elizabeth Nielsen bringing Udder Chaos to Graves-Hume Public Library

Elizabeth Nielsen


Staff writer

MENDOTA – Chaos will be taking place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 4 at the Graves-Hume Public Library in Mendota.

Not illegal chaos.

Or pandemonium.

More like, “Udder Chaos Amusing Adventures with Farm Animals” type of chaos as Elizabeth Nielsen is reading her children's story.

“I incorporate books so much in my therapy sessions. It has been a dream of mine to write my own story,” said Nielsen, who is a certified, licensed speech therapist. “There is enough adventure that happens on the farm that it was kind of easy to write the story of my life on the farm.

“The way that I read stories to kids, I wanted to incorporate some of those aspects into my story. I use lots of repetition, rhyming, different animal sounds, and different environmental sounds because all of those things really help increase speech and language skills.”

Nielsen, who grew up in Plainfield, lived in Waterman for 10 years and currently resides in Elburn, obtained a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Northern Illinois University to help her accomplish her goal of starting her own practice.

Through life's journey, she put her experiences and desires together to open Tiny Voice Therapy Services in 2014 at her home. 

In 2019, she and her family found a property with two houses where she was able to convert one building into her speech therapy clinic.

A barn was built at the end of 2020 to complete her dream of bringing horses and other farm animals into her practice. 

“My older sister (Kathy) has disabilities. When I was in middle school, my mother (Barb) worked in a preschool and she wanted me to observe some speech therapists there,” Nielsen said. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I also liked nursing and the medical aspect of things. Once I observed the speech therapists there, I kind of fell in love with what they were doing. My mother and I got certified to be therapeutic horseback riding instructors. My mom wanted to find a place for my sister to ride at that provided therapeutic horseback riding.

“That's what motivated me for this type of work. When I was in undergraduate school, I knew right away that I wanted to open my own practice and to eventually incorporate horses.”

After graduating from NIU with her master's degree in 2012, Nielson worked at a couple of different barns and worked with Hippotherapy, which utilizes the gait and the movement of a horse to provide motor and sensory input.

Now, Hippotherapy is a main part of Nielsen's practice as it brings happiness and positive responses to her clients.

“I work with a lot of autistic individuals who might be dis-regulated. Incorporating the movement of the horse is very regulating for them. I did that at a few different places, but I knew I wanted to open my own practice,” Nielsen said. “I think having a sister with disabilities, it made me want to help other kids. Just seeing how impactful it can be when kids are around horses and the interaction between a horse and an individual, it's just very therapeutic. The horses provide a natural environment for the kids, where they don't feel like they're stuck at a table working on worksheets that are not meaningful to them. It's not motivating.

“The Hippotherapy really helps create an environment where they can take what the skills they learned through me and be able to transition it to at home or at school. If I'm not getting a certain response from the child when they're sitting forward, I might have them sit on the horse backward. That wakes up the child's system and they respond a little better. We may also have them kneel on the horse or sit sideways. The different positions and the movement help kids because they learn through movement and play.”

The tales of the farm animals, which include horses, cows, pigs, turkeys, ducks, and cats, through her clients made writing a book easy.

Nielsen published “Udder Chaos” in October of 2022 and has read it to schools in DeKalb and Sandwich as well as a few local businesses such as a candy store.

As she travels to read her book a couple of times a month, she scheduled Graves-Hume Public Library because she has had clients from Mendota.

“It's kind of hard to describe how animals help children. Even the other day, I have a cat that doesn't like to interact with me, but he was out in the barn with one of my clients and he was meowing at him and batting his paw at him trying to play,” Nielsen said. “It's a weird connection like the animals know and they try to take care of these kids. It's just an amazing connection.”

Hear Nielsen read “Udder Chaos Amusing Adventures with Farm Animals”, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 4 at Graves-Hume Public Library in Mendota.

To purchase the children's story, it is available at www.authorspots.com, as well as all other providers.

Nielsen and Tiny Voice Therapy Services, or Little Cottage on the Farm – which rents out the farm in a BNB fashion – can be found on Facebook and Instagram. 

The website is www.tinyvoicetherapy.com.