The Children's Institute Blog

The Tadler Family of Five

Posted by The Children's Institute - Nov 05, 2019

Tadler family laughing and smiling
Life moves fast in the Tadler household. Molly, the third grader, does homework before softball practice and eagerly anticipates her weekend guitar and horseback riding lessons. Sister Corrina, age 4, can't wait to start her own riding and music lessons as soon as she is old enough. For now, she is busy with preschool and T-ball and her favorite cartoon character, Peppa Pig. Little Alice - called Ally - recently turned 2. She has plenty of energy to keep up with her sisters and take care of her menagerie of stuffed animals, most of them bunnies named "Bunny."

"I love being the father of three girls," says John Tadler, a Lieutenant for the Allegheny County Police Department. "I can't imagine life any other way."

John and Mary Tadler were in their 40s when they married, and after their daughter Molly was born in September 2009, they were unable to have another biological child. Motivated by the feeling that their family wasn't complete, the couple began thinking about adoption, which ultimately led them to Project STAR at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. Read More...



Growing into a Lifechanger

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 29, 2019

Jacob Haugh smiling
A few weeks before Jacob, who has autism, turned nine in the Spring of 2015, Jacob's parents asked him what he wanted for his birthday. A very mature "I have everything I need," was his reply.

"Our response - a teachable parenting moment about giving back to others - has evolved into an incredible fundraising journey for Jacob and the rest of our family," says Megan, his mom. Read More...



Pascal Completes the Intensity Program During Spina Bifida Awareness Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 25, 2019

Pascal on tricycle, smiling
Born with Spina Bifida

“My husband and I were so excited at our 20 week ultrasound to find out the gender of our baby. Our world was rocked when the technician said, ‘Your child has Spina Bifida. It is a birth defect in which the spine does not fully close when developing. Your child will probably not be able to walk and it looks as though he will need a shunt.’ She continued on with more potential issues and a grim outlook on his diagnosis,” said Emily Gasse of Pittsburgh.

Pascal with his mother Emily “We found hope at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After extensive testing, it was determined that we qualified for fetal surgery. Closing the lesion before the baby is born prevents further damage to the spine, allows the baby to heal before birth, and has also proven to eliminate the need for a shunt. This is the option we chose, and even though there is no cure for Spina Bifida, the surgery seemed to save some of the function that otherwise might have been lost. We were also fortunate to avoid the need for a shunt. Our beautiful baby boy, Pascal, was born happy and healthy! We weren’t sure yet if he would walk, but we loved watching him kick his legs!” said Emily of her happy boy who now loves to play with cars and Mickey Mouse. Read More...



Amazing Therapists at Sienna's Happy Place

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 15, 2019

Sienna with toy in therapy pool

In honor of National Physical Therapy Month and Down Syndrome Awareness Month this October, we invited the mother of one of our amazing kids to share her honest, heartfelt, and inspiring story in her own words. Read on to learn more about her daughter, Sienna, and why The Children's Institute is her happy place. 
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Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 08, 2019

Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Helping a child to reach his or her full potential requires a dynamic process of growth and change that comes from caring for the mind, the body, and the spirit. This is the hallmark of how The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh has worked to meet its mission for more than a century.

"The Children's Institute has a rich history of providing comprehensive care to treat the whole person," explains Stacey Vaccaro, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for The Children's Institute. "As the need for community-based health services continues to grow, we are positioning the organization to extend our reach throughout the area, offering families better access to high-quality outpatient behavioral health care we provide." Read More...



Blooming with Artistic Talent

Posted by The Children's Institute - Oct 02, 2019

Jarrod Edson holding a piece of his artwork
Young Jarrod Edson loved to doodle – and his autism is an asset to his artistry. For Jarrod, drawing was subconscious. While his attention was focused on other activities, Jarrod’s hand would be busy transferring his thoughts to paper.

“Jarrod’s doodles quickly became elaborate,” remembers his mother, Kuhoo. “By the time he was five, Jarrod was creating prolific, abstract artwork on just about any surface he could find.” Read More...



Beep for B'man

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 24, 2019

Image of B'man and brother
Sometimes it is the simple things that make people smile. For Bill Carney, affectionately known as “B’man,” a student with cerebral palsy in The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh – it’s the sound of beeping cars that makes him smile and laugh. This joy sparked a local movement to “Beep for B’man,” soliciting honks, beeps, and waves from the driving public that spot B’man in his “corner office” in Fox Chapel Plaza. Read More...



Transition Skills Blossom

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 17, 2019

Image of student standing proudly with garden shovel
A seed of an idea burst into full bloom more than 15 years ago when staff in The Day School began to discuss how simple planting activities that individual teachers were using in the classroom could grow into a comprehensive program. Their work culminated in the development of The Day School Gardening Club.

“Gardening is motivational and great for the mental health of any individual,” says Lisa Paglia, Community-Based Instruction Facilitator/Volunteer Job Developer for The Day School. “For those with special needs, gardening also advances developmental, social, and recreation and leisure skills.” Read More...



Accessibility & Communication: Dylan Shares His Story

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 10, 2019

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The Art of Accessibility

Posted by The Children's Institute - Sep 03, 2019

Dr. Mark Friedman with EyeTyper device and child
For more than a century, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh has celebrated the achievements of our amazing kids, young people, and families. We see every day the impact a person makes on their world when they have access to the tools they need to connect with others. Our unwavering commitment to improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities positions us as innovators and advocates for accessibility in many forms.

We reflect back to the early 1980s when our volunteer Director of Rehabilitation Engineering – Carnegie Mellon University Professor Dr. Mark Friedman – designed the EyeTyper. This technology used advanced eye tracking and eye control technology to produce computer-generated speech, enabling those who were non-verbal to interact with the world around them. From the EyeTyper, numerous Tobii Dynavox devices have been developed in response to growing demand and through advances in research and technology.

This amazing piece of our history is now on display as part of a powerful temporary exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh - through September 8, 2019. This special exhibit, Access+Ability, resonates deeply with The Children’s Institute as it highlights the extraordinary research and pioneering technology that have given a new voice to those with special needs, enabling them to convey personal decisions, express feelings, and actively engage with loved ones and the communities where they live. Read More...



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