The Children's Institute Blog

"Presents from the Military" bring gifts and holiday joy to students in The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Dec 14, 2018

Presents from the Military Visit
The 758 Airlift Squadron, based at the 911th Airlift Wing in Coraopolis, PA – whose mission is worldwide tactical airlift of airborne forces, equipment, and supplies with delivery by airdrop or airland – also delivered joy this holiday season with a special visit on Thursday, December 13, 2018 to students in The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.

“We have so many great people here who are more than willing to help children,” said Senior Master Sergeant Becky Schatzman, C-17 Loadmaster of The 758 Airlift Squadron (758 AS), who kickstarted this first annual “Presents from the Military” visit to The Day School. “We’re lucky the military has such a big platform of people, and to use it to do good is something we want to do more often,” said Schatzman.

Schatzman and 11 additional members of the squadron made their first visit to The Day School at The Children’s Institute Thursday, December 13, hand-delivering brand new gifts to students in twelve specialized classrooms for autism, multiple disabilities, and adult preparation.

Located in Squirrel Hill, The Day School at The Children’s Institute is an approved private school offering special education services to nearly 200 children ages 5-21 from more than 60 school districts. In addition to being a national leader in the education of children with special needs, The Children’s Institute also provides outpatient physical and behavioral health services, as well as adoption, foster care, and child and family services.

“We have a couple of us here in our squadron that have had children [at The Children’s Institute],” said Schatzman whose young son has been receiving outpatient services for more than a year.

“We had a great outcome even with everybody being all over the globe, and we have everything that the kids asked for on their lists and more,” said Schatzman, who received wish lists from The Day School. “A lot of gifts they asked for were the same type of toys my son has used in his therapies. These gifts are going to be utilized for a really long time and it’s just fantastic. Christmas is a time of giving, so for students to come into the warm school environment and receive gifts there – I think that’s especially important this time of year.”

“We are deeply grateful to ‘Presents from the Military’ for making this time of year magical for our students. The incredible outpouring of support we receive from the community year-round truly makes a difference in so many young lives and we thank the 758 Airlift Squadron for thinking of our amazing kids this holiday season,” said Wendy Pardee, President and CEO of The Children’s Institute.

Presents from the Military VisitPresents from the Military Visit  
Presents from the Military VisitPresents from the Military Visit
Presents from the Military Visit

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Our Hearts Are Warm This Holiday Season

Posted by The Children's Institute - Dec 07, 2018

Snowman Tree

At The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, we continue to be amazed by the tremendous outpouring of support our families, donors, and community show year after year. Our hearts are especially warm during the holiday season as we receive gifts, donations, and thanks to our team members for the work they do that makes a difference in the lives of so many children.

From kind words of support from the families we serve, to local businesses and organizations who welcome our students and provide them with real-world workplace training, to all the people of Pittsburgh who donate toys and gifts during our annual Hope for the Holidays gift drive for our Project STAR families – we are amazingly grateful.

We couldn’t move forward and conquer our mission without you. Your generosity and care shows – and it fuels our team members as they work hard each day to help our patients, students and clients progress and reach their fullest potential.

We would also like to give a special shout out to DigiBooths, who is helping to ensure our team members have a great upcoming holiday party. We are really looking forward to gathering together and getting fun prints and photographs in our gif booth provided by DigiBooths. Its special touches like this that allows our team members to make amazing memories together.

To everyone that supports our mission and our team for the work they do to bring play, and laughter, and necessary care to our kids – we thank you.

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Setting the Stage for Success

Posted by The Children's Institute - Nov 16, 2018

Luke as Teyve as Fiddler on the Roof
Luke Martin, a senior at Blackhawk High School, is always adding something to his mother’s to-do list. Whether it’s celebrating another “last” before graduation or preparing for all the “firsts” of his anticipated college adventure, Luke is living the busy, fulfilling life his parents dreamed for him.

But it wasn’t always this way. Read More...



Transition Tuesday: Maggie & Anthony at the J Cafe, at AgeWell at the JCC

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jul 24, 2018

Anthony looks into the milk cooler
At The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, we are grateful to be able to collaborate with so many wonderful community organizations that have been open to partnering to create valuable opportunities for the amazing kids we serve.

Highlighted today for #TransitionTuesday is the AgeWell at the JCC's J Cafe, located at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.    
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Transition Tuesday: Day School Students Show Support for Annual Jessie Games Event

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jul 17, 2018

Students Holding Up Their Jessie Games Signs
Transition-age students Wayne, Noah, and Maggie weren’t shy as they proudly held up their colorful signs created for use at the fifth annual Jessie Games event put on by Catholic Charities – to occur Saturday, July 21, 2018 at Central Catholic High School from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Created in honor of Jessie Egan Smith, the Jessie Games event invites friends, clients, and donors of Catholic Charities to enjoy a fun-filled afternoon of food and games, while also supporting the charities’ youth programming – including art therapy and counseling for youth experiencing loss and trauma, as well as a back-to-school program that provides shoes and clothing for children in need.

While the Games provide fun for families with children up to age 12, this year it also created an opportunity for extended school year (ESY) students at The Day School at The Children’s Institute to showcase their skills while helping the community. Read More...



Clinician Spotlight: Kathleen Conley, Audiologist

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 23, 2018

Today, as we continue to mark Better Speech & Hearing Month, we asked a few questions of Kathleen Conley, audiologist at The Children's Institute.

When did you start working in your field?
August 1981

When did you start working at The Children’s Institute? I am not 100% sure since it has been a long time. I believe in the early 1990’s.
I have always been a consultant initially here 1 day a week when there were adults and children. As the needs of the Institute changed, my work schedule changed. After the Adult rehab moved, I worked ½ day a week.

Where did you grow up? Pittsburgh, specifically Forest Hills

As a child, what did you want to be? I changed my mind several times on that subject. Pediatrician, Teacher and Architect. Read More...



Transition Tuesday: Luke's Deliveries

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 22, 2018

Bob Russell, a Work ETC teacher in The Day School at The Children’s Institute, gives a simple instruction to student Luke Recker.

“Today, we have some big things – Luke, are you all set up with your words?” he asks.

Luke smiles widely, then nods.

Luke has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and speaks, largely, through an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. But that doesn’t stop the JobSpan participant from delivering the mail throughout Children’s Institute’s Squirrel Hill campus every Wednesday morning.  Read More...



Clinician Spotlight: Jolyn Kisiday, SLP

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 09, 2018

Today, in honor of Better Speech & Hearing Month, we speak with speech-language pathologist Jolyn Kisiday.

When did you start working in your field? I started working in June 2015.

When did you start working at The Children’s Institute? I started working at CI in June 2016.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in a small town in Indiana County, PA called Marion Center.

As a child, what did you want to be? I wanted to be the most random things. My parents were remodeling our house when I was little so I swear we lived at furniture stores. I had a passion to be a “furniture lady”. I also wanted to be a secretary or in a girl band due to my obsession with the Spice Girls.

What did your high-school guidance counselor say you should do for a living? To be honest, she had no influence on my college selection or career. I cannot remember even speaking with her -- haha. Read More...



Twins In The Prader-Willi World

Posted by The Children's Institute - Apr 24, 2018

On May 8, 2004, Dianna Schatzlein nearly died.

Hours later, the Connecticut woman, suffering from intense premature labor, high blood pressure, and a host of other problems, became a mother for the third – and fourth – time via emergency C-section.

She didn’t see her Identical Mirror Twin boys, Edward and Stephen, right away. But when a nurse showed her photographs, she knew something was wrong.

After lengthy testing, the boys were diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome, developmental delays and autism. Every day has been a struggle.

“I can’t explain it. When I read up on Prader-Willi syndrome, it just matched,” Dianna said. “As a mother, you just know – there’s something significantly wrong.”

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a rare, complex genetic disorder affecting appetite, growth, metabolism, cognitive functioning, and behavior. The hallmark characteristics include chronic feelings of insatiable hunger and slowed metabolism that can lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity. Estimates say one in 12,000 to 15,000 people has Prader-Willi. Although considered “rare,” PWS is one of the most common conditions seen in genetic clinics and is the most common genetic cause of obesity that has been identified to date.

At age five, the twins were caught stealing food from trashcans at school. Later, they set a small fire in their home near New Haven, Conn. when they tried to cook cat food in the toaster oven. Read More...



Meet Katie / National OT Month and Autism Awareness Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - Apr 23, 2018

Katie was Christy Nicola’s second child and she knew pretty early on she was different.

“She was too perfect. She never cried,” Christy said. “I would sit her in a bouncy chair and she’d be fine – for a long time. I knew right away. She had no eye contact or the need for contact with me. Julianna, she spoke, she was getting around before she was 1. Katie came along and there was no babbling, there was no first word.”

At 3, Katie was diagnosed with autism. Now 7 and one of three children in the family, we feature Katie today as part of National OT Month and Autism Awareness Month.

“When I first met Katie, she wasn’t doing any self-care skills by herself.”

That’s occupational therapist Barb Warden, who regularly meets and treats Katie. Read More...



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