Archive for January, 2010

Send Me Your Healthy Snacks For Kids
January 30, 2010

OK.. once again I need your help.

I’m trying to find lots of kid-friendly snacks that taste good and are low calorie.

There’s a response box on the right side of this page please send it to me.  My blog does not post your emails so don’t worry about that. Your responses just go straight into my private email.  But I might take the best ones and re-post them without your names or email addresses.

Click here to see some snacks that I found online that look pretty good.

Thank You!


Give Blood
January 28, 2010

I just got this email from the Blood Bank.  If you can help this would be a fun time to give the gift of life!

Dear Donor,

Help Central Blood Bank brighten area lives at a special blood drive on Monday, February 1, 2010! The drive will be at the Senator John Heinz History Center, from noon to 7 p.m. Free parking will be available for donors in the 11th and Smallman Street parking lot.

All participating donors will receive their choice between:
Central Blood Bank/Pittsburgh Penguins T-shirt
“I Bleed Black & Gold” T-shirt
Special-edition WDVE T-shirt

All participating donors will also be entered into random drawings for prizes, including:
Limited-edition autographed Steelers footballs
Steelers hats
Steelers T-shirts

And one lucky donor will win our Grand Prize: a limited-edition Steelers Super Bowl jacket!

To make an appointment, call 412-209-7010. Or click on the link to make your appointment online, through “My Personal Donation History.” You can search for the drive with sponsor code M077!

Date Night
January 27, 2010

I just got this from the Carnegie Science Center for all parents who need a “date night!”

PITTSBURGHCarnegie Science Center is offering parents and guardians three more chances to have THEIR night out on the town with its Parents’ Night Out program—while also providing a safe, fun, and educational alternative to finding a reliable babysitter—beginning with Valentine’s Day weekend.

On Saturday, February 13, parents can bring their kids to the Science Center at 5 pm, spend the night as they please, then return at 10 or 11 pm to pick up their kids. Kids enjoy dinner, an Omnimax film, a laser show, a science activity, and time to explore the exhibits.

While their children play at the Science Center, parents can dine at their favorite restaurant, try their luck at the Rivers Casino, watch a ballet or a musical, dance the night away, or simply spend the evening alone.

“It’s so important for parents to keep the romance alive,” said Jessica Lausch, director of Visitor Experience at the Science Center. “For families, this is the best of both worlds. We’ll provide a science- and fun-filled night at the Science Center for your kids while you can go out with your sweetheart or a group of friends to celebrate.”

Two other Parents’ Night Out programs are scheduled for March 20 and May 15.

“Late winter and early spring are wonderful times to get out of the house and experience a night everyone will remember,” said Lausch. “Parents have that rare date-night opportunity while knowing their children are safe and entertained, and the kids get a special night at the ScienceCenter. Springtime gives you the chance to explore new parts of the city, try a new restaurant, or just enjoy a night out before the kids are out of school for the summer.”

Parents’ Night Out programming is designed for children ages 6–12. Cost per child is $35 for Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh members and $40 for non-members. Normal pick-up time is 10 pm, and those who wish to make the most of their evening can pick up their kids at 11 pm for an additional $10. Pre-registration is required. Parents should call 412.237.1637 to register.

Your Emails
January 23, 2010

Here is the final email I plan to post from your autism feedback. I just got this one Saturday morning. It makes me smile. Thank you to everyone who helped us understand what autism is, how it impacts all of us, and the need for more services.
I am a senior, majoring in special education.  I have been trying to decide what to get my masters in – after reading some of these letters from parents, I think my decision has been made.  I would like to specialize in Autism.  By law, all children have the right to a free and appropriate education.  Thank you for that little bit of inspiration I was looking for.

Autism Feedback
January 22, 2010

Your autisim section is great. There is several types of Autisim in the spectrum.  My daughter suffers from Rett Syndrome which is a sever form that mainly effects girls. Explaining that this condition is so verried may make this amazing series even more benifitial to the public.  Before a name conditians are more devastating.

Autism Emails
January 21, 2010

As a grandmother with an eight year old autistic grandson I want to THANK YOU for your segments so that other people can hopefully understand what we go thru. The looks that I get from people when my grandson has a “meltdown” is heart breaking to me. Don’t they know that yes I wish he would stop screaming and for once just be a “normal” child. I wonder if they would act the same way if they had a child with special needs? I know that people just don’t understand what our families go thru but I hope and pray that by your series it will make at least one person understand a little more and maybe just maybe the looks and whispers ( yes we do hear the whispers)will one stop. Thanks again Michelle.
From a loving NANA.

Infant Autism Study
January 21, 2010

Click here for information on a local infant autism study.  UPMC is studying infants who an have an older sibling diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

January 20, 2010

Here is an email from someone upset about my reports on autism. Although for the record, I did report that science did not support a link between a vaccine and autism and that’s what the UPMC spokesman said, too.
What a awful job of reporting. To say there is a controversy that vaccines are associated with autism is grossly inaccurate!! There is no controversy! Numerous studies show no association. The UPMC spokesman you picked was a poor spokesman. You should be talking to Dr Paul Offitt, trained in PGH and currently at Childrens Hospital, Philadelphia.

Autism Feedback
January 20, 2010

More of your feedback.
I want to THANK Michelle Wright for her series on Autism. my son was diagnosed with autism on 9-30-09. He is 2 and 1/2 now. It is a great struggle on what works and what doesn’t, were to get help and how much it costs. He has been in early intervention since 12/08. Although he doesn’t speak many words he has learned some sign language and his motor skills are much improved. early detection is the key. I have seen the results of it. As small as they are they are huge steps for him. We take for granted waving bye or hi. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do (taking care of a special needs child) But it is the most rewarding as well. Just wanted to thank you again for the series on Autism. If we could get the medical community and the autism community to quit blaming each other and start working together would be a true miracle. Just think more people are getting Autism than the H1N1 virus. I would call that an epidemic!
My wife and I are very grateful for your series. Please keep up the great work.!!!!! Michelle you have 2 big fans here!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thanks again

Safety Sleeper
January 20, 2010

I just got an email about local parents of an autistic child who designed a bed to keep their child safe.

Here’s a photo of the bed… and click here to get to the website.

What is The Safety Sleeper™?

The Safety Sleeper™ is a fully enclosed and portable bedframe designed by a mother of an autistic child.
Thanks to this bed, we no longer worry about our child leaving his bed and falling down the stairs, walking out the front door or walking out of the hotel room on vacation.

Our mission

The Safety Sleeper™ (patent pending) is a product of Sleep Safe Bed, Inc., a non-profit organization.
We are striving to provide every caretaker who struggles with monitoring a loved one’s sleeping issues the opportunity to have the same peace of mind we do when our child sleeps in the Safety Sleeper™.

The Safety Sleeper™ is portable, light-weight (under 50 lb) but yet durable and easy to assemble. Provide your child with the familiarity they have when sleeping at home and take your Safety Sleeper™ with you when you travel.

From A Mother’s Heart
January 20, 2010

A viewer who has an autistic son shared something with me to post here. It’s something she’d previously written about her experience. She wanted me to share it here hoping it will help others going through the same thing  understand they are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

From a Mother’s Heart

I feel broken…….or I should say my heart feels broken. At times it feels heavy, too heavy to carry around on a daily basis. Other times it feels lonely, so lonely it hurts. Oftentimes my heart feels full: full of love, of happiness, of peace. Sometimes, it can feel cold and empty; or full of anger and sadness. At times, it is too much to bear. Too much…….

I am a mother of a special needs son. Mikey is my blessing, and I am proud to be his mom. He gives me great joy and happiness, for he not only allows me to see the world through his eyes, but he teaches me about patience and acceptance. Mikey is by far more tolerant of this world than I am, for I see the world mistreat him and label him. He is completely misunderstood and, sad to say, feared. I, on the other hand, am not as kind or as accepting of this world. Ignorance, cruelty and apathy abound, and this is the world Mikey lives in. As his mom, I love him unconditionally. But often, this is not enough. Unmistakably, it is a battle, a daily battle, to protect Mikey from the world. Nonetheless, it is my job to integrate him in this cruel world, and help him adjust, to fit in.  Yet all I want to do is hold him close to my heart, keep him from harm and hurt, to scream at all the ignorant people in life………

Mikey is autistic and non verbal, and the world is not willing to accept him. Oftentimes it is the lack of knowledge and the total unawareness of this disorder that feeds the fear and the ignorance. Labels are easier to deal with, not the person. How unkind, harsh and merciless the world can be to anyone “different.” As his mom and his protector, I want to stop the hurt. As his voice, I feel obliged to educate, to end the ignorance, and to teach kindness and respect.

There are many positives about being a mom of a special needs child. The road is not an easy one, and you may often travel it alone. However, the journey will change your life. Watching Mikey live each moment to the fullest is indescribable. He has taught me how to embrace life, and how to take time to enjoy the little things. Mikey has touched many hearts, and he has changed many lives. Learning to see the world through his eyes has been an enriching experience. He has shown me how to deal with adversity, and how to put a smile on my face everyday. Most of all, I understand patience and empathy for the first time in my life.

Your Emails
January 20, 2010

I appreciate all of you who’ve taken the time to send me a note about my series on autism this week. Hopefully it’s providing education for our viewers who don’t understand the disorder and resources for parents who are dealing with it. Thank you!

Thanks for doing this report on Autism..I am the mom of a 10 yr. old diagnosed at the age of 3. It has been a very tough road for my son. So many hours, and days of therapy. It is still alot of work, My greatest fear for my son is his future. Know one understands, unless they are put into this situation.  Hopefully by watching your news cast, it will give everyone a sense of understanding and compassion for these kids. Thank You

Your Autism Feedback
January 20, 2010

Thanks for all of your feedback on my autism series…. Here are a few more emails I received.  (The school featured in my segments is New Story and we are going to talk about the school more later this week. I’m trying to focus on different things on different days but used some of the footage we shot at New Story. Much thanks to the school!) Keep the emails coming!

Although I am VERY glad of the week long piece named: Allegheny Co. Families Search For Autism Answers, Hope. I have just one question, WHY are you not giving credit to the school in which you taped a great deal of the children in? I KNOW that most of the kids you have shown are from that school and a lot of the classroom settings that have been shown have also been from there, but yet NO mention of the school, which is VERY disappointing considering they are one of the best schools / agencies to help kids with autism… There was only one mention of somewhere to go for assistance and that was mentioned on Tuesday’s segment. It would make someone think that everything that they have seen is at that location, so wouldn’t it be considerate to say at the end of the segment and a special thanks to…? That’s the most disappointing part about watching that segment is that all the special people that made that school a part of the county, but yet don’t even get recognized…###

This next email came from some who has a website focusing on autism.  Although she says I did not address the cause of autism… I did talk to two mothers about it. One mother had twins and her son showed signs of autism before the vaccine. The other  mom is convinced her son’s autism began right after the vaccine (I actually talked to many more parents and experts but only had time to narrow it down to a couple of examples.) The experts we talked to said in all of the research done to this point scientists could find no link.  In terms of the reason for the drastic increase in cases, (now at 1 in 110 children) experts told me it could be because the criteria for an autism diagnosis recently expanded, awareness is growing and parents are getting the official diagnosis to help with costs, but many parents insist it is also because of the increase in vaccinations. Thanks for these emails and please keep them coming!

Pittsburgh Channel 4 gave us some stunning information on autism that should be cause for alarm.  Ten years ago, the autism rate was one in 500. Fifteen years ago, it was one in 10,000.  Today it’s one percent of children.  Still Channel 4 can give us no reason for the explosion in numbers.  And we’re left with an incredible statement: “Adult services can be hard to find, but that needs to change, since 54 percent of the cases of autism are elementary school children. In the next few years there is going to be a tidalwave of individuals needing adult services.”  Channel 4 gave us a mother saying, ‘Within 45 minutes of the vaccination, his temperature went to 107. And within a week he lost everything he had,” said Kristin Gallagher, who has a son, Evan, with autism. “Any verbalization, eye contact, just everything was gone. He began to spin. He began to flap. He became more distant.’  But still we were told that there is no link between vaccines and autism.  Dr. Mark Strauss stated, ‘It looks like right now that they’re not. Now we can’t say absolutely 100 percent certainty that they aren’t but there has been a lot of research so far that’s been unable to find any link between vaccines and particularly the initial concern which was the preservative in the vaccine.’  Since Action News announced that Anchor Michelle Wright had examined the controversy over whether vaccines play a role in causing the disorder, it might interest her to know that the research studies that Dr. Strauss referred to all come with ties to the vaccine makers.  These studies come to us from the CDC, the agency that approves, mandates, and promotes the vaccine schedule.  The CDC also is in charge of vaccine safety.  Is it any wonder that every study shows no harmful side effects from their vaccine program.  Maybe the most telling evidence is the fact that former head of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding is now head of the vaccine division at Merck Pharmaceutical Co.  Gerberding spent her time at the CDC denying that autism was increasing and ignoring the countless thousands of parents reporting that vaccines caused their normally progressing children to regress into autism.  It seems for some, the payoff for defending the vaccine makers comes after they leave the agency.  Dr. Strauss may want to check out the comments made by Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institutes of Health.  On CBS News May 12,  2008 , Dr. Healy stated that the studies haven’t been done on vaccines to disprove a link to autism.  There has never been a study of the thousands of kids out there who became autistic following vaccinations.  We also never done a study on the cumulative effect of so many vaccines so soon on the health of a developing baby.  We’ve also never done a study comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children for rates of autism.  No one has the right to say vaccines don’t cause autism.

BRESMA Orphans In Pittsburgh
January 19, 2010

What a heartwarming story today.  53 orphans from the BRESMA orphanage in Haiti arrived here this morning.  Tonight we have the brave story of the two young sisters from Ben Avon who ran the orphanage and refused to abandon the children.  Action News Anchor Mike Clark took the day off from work to volunteer his time to assist Catholic Charities in getting the children situated here.  Here are some photos Mike sent me today.  He’ll be on the news tonight at 5:00 and 6:00 sharing what happened today.

Autism Feedback
January 19, 2010

Here are more emails regarding my week-long series on autism:

A parent emailed me and said the PEAL center has helped his family greatly with autism: ###

Please site what the research shows in your investigation on diets with autism and any other treatment that you are going to focus on.  It is so important that the media put the facts out there for parents so that they do not get talked into expensive options that have not been shown by research to work.  What people hear on TV they believe.  Movie stars are not helping when they claim that they have cured their child with a special treatment. A few are claiming that vaccines are the culprit.  I have been in this field 16 years and where are all these cured kids? Study after study shows that there is no cure and that vaccines are not the cause and yet scientists and parents that try to provide the research are condemned or accused of being uninformed.  The more funding we put into vaccine research, the less that can then be devoted to finding the true causes and the more our children are at risk.  There is more to this disability than pity.  There are plenty of kids out there who are doing well in school and even excelling in their chosen fields because their families have chosen more traditional ways of getting help for them!  Further, please consider that one reason why the numbers are increasing is due to the fact that the organizations and entities that diagnose this disorder also serve to profit by then being able to offer services such as wraparound and other BHRS programs to their “new” clients. You have a choice:  make your series an emotional heart-tugging pity story of helpless families who are struggling to get “needed” experimental treatments with no supports or a series that is factual and informative about help that is available and research-based, remembering that such news may be going against the current mainstream thought and you may get a backlash from the autism community. It’s time for families to get the facts.  It’s time for them to stop being taken advantage of.