The Children's Institute Blog

Special Olympics at The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 08, 2017

Yesterday was a special day here at The Children’s Institute as we celebrated our annual Special Olympics at The Day School. It is a time for our students to really show their talent and help cheer on all of those participating in the event. Participants even receive medals for all of their hard work!

The Special Olympics is an all day event composed of several activities for the students to engage in. They range from basketball to track and bowling to tricycling, offering multiple options for students to participate in.

To kick off the festivities, personal student nurse Jackie Houston sang a booming rendition of The National Anthem as she put her arm around a student in a wheelchair. The occasion was no one-off event for the trained singer saying “I liked it, supporting everybody,” Jackie said. “The class I’m in, they’re excited. So it’s nice to give back to the community. And this is our community; I’m here five days of the week.”  Read More...



Café Concert at The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 02, 2017

Jen Sweazon filled The Children Institute of Pittsburgh’s café with an enormous amount of energy this week with her tap dance performance for The Day School (TDS) students. 

Her performance was part of a café concert series set up by TDS music teacher Eric Emmons, who feels performances such as these should be as casual and comfortable as possible.

“I wanted our older students to have a chance to enjoy music in a less formal setting, and also to practice their social and money skills at the same time,” he said.

And based off student reactions to the performance, there’s no question that this was achieved. Read More...



Derby Day at The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 01, 2017

The Pinewood Derby at The Children’s Institute’s Day School was book-ended yesterday with loudspeaker musical contributions from Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” and, closing the event, “We Are The Champions” – but the day was owned, appropriately, by the cars.

There were cars representing superheroes, ones dedicated to the work of Dr. Seuss, and ones painted like frogs and shaped like squirrels. There were time-machine cars and lightning-bolt cars and rainbow cars. There was a car for every kid.

But, in the end, it was Wayne Marshall’s “Superman Superfly” that took the final heat after the black-and-white checkered flag was unfurled.

“Oh my God,” said an exasperated Wayne, as he pulled the neck of his T-shirt up to his chin after the final race. “It feels good!”

Students from The Day School had spent roughly two months making their cars, social skills therapist Stacy Porter Smith said. And the track-stand down which those cars raced? Well, for that they had a little help from Plant Ops.  Read More...



New Doctor Spotlight Series: Today’s Feature – Dr. Scott Faber

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 31, 2017

Today, we launch our new Doctor Spotlight series by focusing on Dr. Scott Faber, Director of Developmental Pediatrics at The Children’s Institute. Here’s the transcription:

When did you start working at The Children’s Institute? In the summer of 2004.

Where did you grow up? Northeast Philadelphia.

As a child, what did you want to be? An astronaut.

Where did you go to school? La Salle University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

What inspired you to go into your field of study?

I started volunteering at Moss Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, interacting with children with autism, at age 14. I was immediately hooked by pediatrics and this population in particular.  Read More...



Josh Kuznetsov – Better Speech & Hearing Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 31, 2017

Josh Kuznetsov has battled with cerebral palsy, seizure disorder and cortical vision impairment for his entire life. Despite all of this, Josh is an enthusiastic young man eager to converse with others and express his ideas. 

Josh first came to The Children’s Institute when he was only three and started at The Day School while also receiving outpatient speech therapy. It was here that he and his mother Judy Cohen met out-patient therapists Colleen Chester Connelly and Marybeth Trapani-Hanasewych.
Judy said that “They were (and are) both amazing” when asked about the quality of care Josh was receiving. 

Josh started with an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device called a Dynavox, which allows him to use various forms of communication to get his message across. The Dynavox is an AAC device, an electronic machine that reads aloud letters, words and phrases when prompted by a user. This is the most advanced form of communication which allows Josh to talk with others.   Read More...



SLP Darcy Leoni Profile – Better Speech & Hearing Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 30, 2017

Speech-language pathologist Darcy Leoni likes the diversity of work that comes with her position.

“I feel like I’m a Jack-of-all-trades. If I had to pick one area of expertise [I’d say] apraxia, autism and feeding are the things I do the most,” Darcy said. “I kind of like the fact that I can mix it up a bit.”

Before coming to work at The Children’s Institute in 1997, Darcy – who got her undergraduate degree in speech and audiology at West Virginia University and her master’s degree in speech at Clarion University – worked in pediatric rehabilitation and hospital settings. Here, she says, she’s more accountable for results.

“Here, you have to know so much more,” she said. “Your knowledge base is so much broader. You have to stay current. That’s what I love about working here.”  Read More...



Vivek's Story - Better Speach and Hearing Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 25, 2017

Vivek Sripathy isn’t going to let autism or being nonverbal get in the way of conversation. Within minutes of entering his classroom at The Children’s Institute’s Day School, he had told me his name, his home address and his birthday, and informed me he wanted to play with some drums.

“He isn’t limited to conversing in one or two word phrases. Vivek is able to construct meaningful sentences to interact with his teachers using his communication device,” speech-language pathologist Tracy Fox said, gesturing toward Vivek’s PRC Accent, an AAC device. “Vivek is very fluent in using his Accent and quickly expresses himself, starts conversations or answers simple questions. He is amazing, truly amazing!”

“He uses his device all day – he’s fantastic with it,” said his teacher, Kelly Lehosky. “He picks up on everything and gets involved in conversations. One day, the teachers were talking and he started asking what we had the night before for dinner.”  Read More...



Eddie's Story - Better Speech & Hearing Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 23, 2017

An Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device, an electronic machine that reads aloud letters, words and phrases when prompted by a user, is helping Eddie Coltabaugh say words his parents thought they’d never hear from him.

During a recent therapy session, Eddie – who is four-years-old, has the rare DiGeorge Syndrome and is nonverbal – clicked through rows of buttons on his PRC Accent device and told his parents just what was on his mind. “Mom, Dad, want, ball,” Eddie’s machine said, after Eddie pressed a series of Clipart icons.

Eddie, who first came to The Children’s Institute in 2015 at age two, is being featured today as part of May’s Better Speech & Hearing Month. Read More...



Open House at Our New Project Star Office!

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 18, 2017

Looking for something fun to do this coming Sunday? Come down to Washington for an Open House at our new Project Star office.

The Open House, which runs from 1pm to 4pm at 357 East Maiden Street, Washington, Pa 15301, will feature numerous games, face-painting, an Italian Ice truck, a visit from Spiderman and a princess along with the opportunity for kids to see a Washington Fire Dept fire engine up close.
Project Star will also be giving away 12 bikes along with helmets and numerous door prizes at this family-friendly event.

“We at Project Star are very excited for this event.We have contacted many agencies and members of the community and the response has been overwhelming and up-lifting. We are expecting a large turn-out and we are planning on having a fun and exciting Sunday,” Washington County Family Recruiter Jeff Kazarick stated. “Sunday is going to be a fun and interactive way for us to spread our message to the community.”  Read More...



The Smart Palate Story - Better Speech & Hearing Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 18, 2017

Benjamin Bigi puts the customized, acrylic mold inside his mouth and begins.

“Wrrrrrrrote,” the 11-year-old says. “Rrrrrrrun.”

“Did you hear that R? Rrrrrrrun?” replies speech-language therapist Darcy Leoni. “Before, it was ‘wwwwwwwon.’”

As he speaks, blue and yellow electronic dots flicker on a computer screen image of his mouth, indicating where he is placing his tongue. The mouthpiece is connected via the computer’s USB port and a series of wires that lead back to the mouthpiece. A sensor even records the words he is pronouncing, showing how the lighted dots line up with soundwaves. Read More...



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