If a child cannot learn the way I teach, then I must teach the way he learns.
--Anna Gillingham, educator and psychologist

Friday, May 9, 2014

George Saunders’ Advice to Graduates

What follows is adapted from author George Saunders' 2013 convocation speech delivered at Syracuse University. As we move into graduation season, take a moment to read it--it's truly good for all ages.

In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. Ellen was small, shy. She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.

So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” — that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.” And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”

Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.

And then — they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing.

One day she was there, next day she wasn’t. End of story.

Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.

But still. It bothers me.

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

How might we DO this? How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc? There are ways. You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter. Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition — recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.

One thing in our favor: some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age. It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really... We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be. We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now). Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving. I think this is true. The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”

And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE. Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers —  but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Village of Sewickley STANDS FIRM against partner violence

From our friends at the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce:

On Tuesday,April 8th, 2014, The Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce will kickoff its 2014 Professional Development Speaker Series with an Awareness-and-Response Training on the workplace effects of partner violence,facilitated by STANDING FIRM, a Pittsburgh non-profit that presents the business case to end partner violence. The presentation will take place in the Sewickley Public Library’s Community Room, with registration and breakfast at 8:30 am.

According to Susan Nitzberg, Sewickley resident and Associate Director of STANDING FIRM,partner violence happens at home, but it also walks through the doors of many workplaces, whether employers realize it or not.  Partner violence causes absenteeism; impaired performance; workplace-violence events; potential liability; and safety concerns for employees and customers.

Thanks in part to generous support from Esmark, there is no charge for this training as long as the employer is a member of STANDING FIRM. For more information on joining STANDING FIRM, log on to www.standingfirmswpa.org and click on “Join Us”. Although it is FREE to join, advanced registration is required no later than April 3, 2014 by emailing: sewickleyvalleychamber@gmail.com.

The following local businesses and organizations are keeping our community safe by being STANDING FIRM members: Angel Event Productions, Borough of Sewickley, Clearly Pilates,Eat ‘n Park Hospitality Group, Giant Eagle, Heritage Valley Health System,Laughlin Children’s Center, Liz Murphy Design, McFadden Wellness and Chiropractic Center, Orr’s Jewelers, Quaker Valley School District, Safran's Supermarket, Sewickley Confectionery, Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sewickley YMCA, Schenley Capital, Sweetwater Center for the Arts, Sewickley Spa, Spoiled Chics the Boutique, Two Men and a Truck, Village Green Partners, Village Theater Company, and Yoga in Sewickley To learn more about the organization, check out this YouTube video featuring Nitzberg:www.bit.ly/1fpO6Z5.

To learn moreabout the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce, including the other topics inthe 2014 Professional Development Speaker Series, visit www.vgpsewickley.com and click “Chamber of Commerce”.

The Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce (SVCC) strives to educate, motivate, and connect local merchants, professional services, and nonprofits, and works hand in hand with Village Green Partners to promote the area as a destination for shopping ,dining, and living.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quaker Valley wants to hear from YOU!

The following is a press release from Quaker Valley School District:

Superintendent Search: School Board solicits community input

The Quaker Valley School District’s Board of Directors is seeking community input as it begins its search for the district’s next superintendent. 

“We value community and staff involvement as we analyze the district’s long-term needs and the attributes needed to successfully lead our district,” Sarah Heres, school board president, said.

The school board is working in collaboration with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association as it proceeds through the search process.

Community members can provide feedback online at www.aiu3.net/qvsd or by visiting the district’s website www.qvsd.org and selecting Superintendent Search (the first item listed under the News heading). Input will be collected through Sunday, March 23, 2014.

In addition, community members are encouraged to participate in focus group discussions with members of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Executive Search Committee. Sessions will be held between 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, in the Quaker Valley Middle School auditorium, 618 Harbaugh Street in Sewickley. No RSVP is needed – community members may drop in at any time during the evening session.

The focus group discussions provide community members with the opportunity to provide input regarding the qualities, characteristics and skills desired in Quaker Valley’s next superintendent of schools.

For more information, please contact Tina Vojtko, director of communications and development, at 412-749-3623 or vojtkot@qvsd.org

Thursday, March 6, 2014

SAT Prep Individualized for each student's particular needs!

Click on the flyer below to learn more about Laughlin's upcoming super-small groups for Verbal and Writing content knowledge and test-taking strategies!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

From our friends at the Children's Dyslexia Center in Pittsburgh: Chris Woodin to speak in March!


Presented by: Chris Woodin Ed.M. Math Department Chairman, Landmark School, Manchester, Massachusetts

WHERE: CHILDREN’S DYSLEXIA CENTER - PITTSBURGH                                   

REGISTRATION AND CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST: 8:45 A.M.                                                                                                                                                      
WORKSHOP:   9:30 – 11:00  A.M.
COST:  $40      


Learning math can be challenging, especially for students who have specific learning disabilities. Language skills, executive functioning, motor planning, and math-specific visual processing skills all play a role in acquiring math competency.  Specific deficits and their resulting impact will be explored.

Christopher Woodin has developed innovative, research-based methods for teaching about numbers and learning basic math skills. Methods will be presented that use minimum language demands and whole-to-part, multimodal strategies to help students express, relate, store, and retrieve information efficiently.

Mr. Woodin is a specialist in the fields of mathematics and learning disabilities. A graduate of Middlebury College and Harvard Graduate School of Education, he has taught extensively at Landmark School in Massachusetts. At Landmark School, Elementary-Middle School Campus, he holds the Ammerman Chair of Mathematics. He is the author of The Landmark Method of Teaching Arithmetic (1995), and Multiplication Facts for the Whole to Part Visual Learner (2013), in addition to several journal articles. He served on the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Mathematics 2011 Curriculum Framework Panel and teaches graduate-level education courses. Christopher Woodin was the 1997 Massachusetts Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) Samuel Kirk Educator of the Year. He has presented at numerous international LDA and International Dyslexia Association (IDA) conferences and led math workshops to audiences across the country.


Appropriate for parents and educators of students with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Silent Epidemic

by Amy Joyce
Laughlin Children's Center Board of Directors member

“An autistic teenager has wandered away....” is the headline in the news more and more often these days.  As a parent of an autistic teen, my breath catches each time I hear those words.  That fear ranks among the top we parents share for our children on the autism spectrum.  Verbal, non-verbal, high-functioning or low-functioning, every child with ASD is at risk for this behavior.

When the story broke that the remains of a nonverbal, severely autistic boy named Avonte Oquendo washed up by a New York City river last week after wandering away from his school last October, the entire city mourned with the parents.  Not because they knew the family or the boy, but because they felt the loss as their own.  They had searched for him, checking the subway trains and yards, knowing he loved trains.  They had scoured faces similar to his, wondering if he was the boy who couldn't speak but was lost.  They had helped with bloodhounds, and police and other rescue teams to call his name, look for signs of him or hope he was huddled somewhere. 

But it's all counter-intuitive to a family who has an child with autism.  None of those helping had malicious intent, but we knew their efforts were in vain. We knew because one of the first things we teach our kids is Stranger Danger.  We knew there was no way a severely autistic boy would come to someone he didn't know, no way he would come out when his name was called, and no way he would run toward a barking dog who picked up his scent.  We know this because we see every day how our kids hide from loud noises, cover their ears when dogs bark, shield their faces when bright lights shine and become too wrapped up in their own thoughts to hear their names.

How can you find a person who's too afraid to be found?  Recently an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette highlighted an effort by the Allegheny County District attorney to "produce a DVD titled Encountering People with Autism for police and other first responders who may come in contact with those diagnosed with some form of the mysterious brain disorder, characterized by social difficulties, communication problems and repetitive behaviors and fixed interests.”  More than 100 police departments in the county will receive a copy in March to help train officers and make them aware of particular behaviors exhibited by persons with autistic disorders.  Read more: http://bit.ly/1e29zro

New York Senator Chuck Schumer proposed a bill in November that would expand an existing voluntary program for people suffering with Alzheimer's to include autistic children. If passed, parents and other caregivers would be able to outfit autistic children with tracking devices, on their wrist, ankle, or anywhere they would tolerate such a device.  While we can't always control the actions of those with these types of cognitive impairments, whether it be autism, Alzheimer's, or dementia, we can take steps to help ensure their safety.  It's time for this technology to help save lives.  My son loves the car GPS, I can only hope he'd love his own GPS even more.

Friday, January 24, 2014

What Students Remember Most About Teachers

By Lori Gard

Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,
I saw you as you rushed passed me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.

"Oh, fine," you replied.

But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?

You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do. How little time there was to get it all done. I listened. And then I told you this:

I told you to remember that at the end of the day, it's not about the lesson plan. It's not about the fancy stuff we teachers make -- the crafts we do, the stories we read, the papers we laminate. No, that's not really it. That's not what matters most.

And as I looked at you there wearing all that worry under all that strain, I said it's aboutbeing there for your kids. Because at the end of the day, most students won't remember what amazing lesson plans you've created. They won't remember how organized your bulletin boards are. How straight and neat are the desk rows.

No, they'll not remember that amazing decor you've designed.

But they will remember you.

Your kindness. Your empathy. Your care and concern. They'll remember that you took the time to listen. That you stopped to ask them how they were. How they really were. They'll remember the personal stories you tell about your life: your home, your pets, your kids. They'll remember your laugh. They'll remember that you sat and talked with them while they ate their lunch.

Because at the end of the day, what really matters is YOU. What matters to those kids who sit before you in those little chairs, legs pressed up tight under tables oft too small- what matters to them is you.

You are that difference in their lives.

And when I looked at you then with tears in your eyes, emotions rising to the surface and I told you gently to stop trying so hard- I also reminded you that your own expectations were partly where the stress stemmed. For we who truly care are often far harder on ourselves than our students are willing to be. Because we who truly care are often our own worst enemy. We mentally beat ourselves up for trivial failures. We tell ourselves we're not enough. We compare ourselves to others. We work ourselves to the bone in the hopes of achieving the perfect lesson plan. The most dynamic activities. The most engaging lecture. The brightest, fanciest furnishings.

Because we want our students to think we're the very best at what we do and we believe that this status of excellence is achieved merely by doing. But we forget- and often. Excellence is more readily attained by being.
Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.

And of all the students I know who have lauded teachers with the laurels of the highest acclaim, those students have said of those teachers that they cared.

You see, kids can see through to the truth of the matter. And while the flashy stuff can entertain them for a while, it's the steady constancy of empathy that keeps them connected to us. It's the relationships we build with them. It's the time we invest. It's all the little ways we stop and show concern. It's the love we share with them: of learning. Of life. And most importantly, of people.

And while we continually strive for excellence in our profession as these days of fiscal restraint and heavy top-down demands keep coming at us- relentless and quick. We need to stay the course. For ourselves and for our students. Because it's the human touch that really matters.

It's you, their teacher, that really matters.

So go back to your class and really take a look. See passed the behaviors, the issues and the concerns, pressing as they might be. Look beyond the stack of papers on your desk, the line of emails in your queue. Look further than the classrooms of seasoned teachers down the hall. Look. And you will see that it's there- right inside you. The ability to make an impact. The chance of a lifetime to make a difference in a child's life. And you can do this now.

Right where you are, just as you are.

Because all you are right now is all you ever need to be for them today. And who you are tomorrow will depend much on who and what you decide to be today.

It's in you. I know it is.

That Other Teacher Down the Hall

Posted: 12/11/2013 at www.huffingtonpost.ca/lori-gard/students_b_4422603.html

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ADHD Awareness

October is ADHD Awareness month so we thought it was only fitting to take the opportunity to discuss ADHD in further detail with all of you. So let's get started:
What is ADHD?
ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity, inattention and/or impulsivity. Most children demonstrate some level of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity so the real question is when does that become a problem to the extent that they may be diagnosed with ADHD? Just because a child is more hyperactive or demonstrates a shorter attention span than their peers does not mean they have ADHD. Typically if a child has trouble in one setting but not another, such as school vs. home, they are likely struggling with something other than ADHD. A child with ADHD typically demonstrates symptoms indiscriminately based on their environment [1].
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder among children. Approximately 1 in every 10 children between the ages of 4-17 has been diagnosed with the disorder at some point in their life [2]. ADHD is more common in boys than girls and symptoms tend to vary based on gender. Boys are typically more hyperactive while girls more frequently demonstrate inattentiveness [1].
The causes of ADHD are largely unknown, but it is thought to be caused by interactions between genetics and environment. Factors such as blood relatives with ADHD, exposure to environmental toxins, maternal drug, alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy, maternal exposure to poisons, and premature births are all thought to increase the risk of a child developing ADHD [1].
3 Types of ADHD
ADHD is typically characterized by three main symptoms including an inability to focus, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Based on symptoms, ADHD diagnoses have been characterized even further into three main categories [3]:
Inattentive type (Inability to focus well)
·         Lacks attention to important details

·         Makes careless mistakes on homework, tests, or various other tasks

·         Difficulty maintaining attention

·         Shifts from task to task without completing anything

·         Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to

·         Easily distracted

·         Gets bored easily

·         Has trouble with organization

·         Frequently daydreams

·         Difficulty following directions

·         Slow to understand information
Hyperactive-impulsive type (hyperactivity & impulsivity)
·         Fidgets and squirms in seat

·         Difficulty staying seated or sitting still

·         Runs around or climbs excessively in situations where it is not appropriate

·         Talks excessively

·         Forgetful

·         Difficulty doing quite tasks (reading, etc)

·         Touches everything

·         Impatient

·         Blurts out comments at inappropriate times
Combined type
·         Shows signs of both Hyperactive-impulsive and Inattentive types
Some may outgrow ADHD, some never will and for others the symptoms merely change with age.
The implications of ADHD are often greater than merely the symptoms that accompany the disorder. Children with ADHD [1]:
·         Frequently face academic challenges and embarrassment from academic difficulties

·         Tend to have more accidents and injuries than their peers

·         Often face social challenges such as appropriate social behaviors and peer acceptance.

·         Tend to struggle with low self-esteem

·         Are at an increased risk for substance abuse
Only health care professionals can test for and diagnose an individual with ADHD. For a proper diagnosis, doctors will typically rule out other conditions that may result in similar symptoms including hearing impairments, sleep disorders, mood disorders, etc. [1]. ADHD is frequently accompanied by at least one other condition such as anxiety, a learning disability, or depression [1,3]. In some cases, symptoms become visible in children as young as 2 or 3 years old, however it is difficult to accurately diagnose such young children.
ADHD can be effectively treated with counseling, medicine and support. Medications do not cure patients with ADHD, however they do allow individuals to better manage their symptoms. Every child requires a unique approach and not every child responds to medications so treatment plans tend to vary. Early diagnosis and treatment can be important to ensure your child successfully learns strategies to lessen the severity of symptoms.
Common stimulant drugs to address ADHD include Adderall, Focalin, Concerta, Ritalin, Daytrana, and Metadate. These drugs typically function by balancing and enhancing neurotransmitters and the way nerve cells interact, allowing children to focus better. Common non-simulant drugs include Strattera [1]. Non-stimulant drugs are typically not quite as effective as stimulant drugs, however they typically result in fewer side effects. Other options include high blood pressure medicines and antidepressants.
Therapy is also commonly used to address ADHD. With behavioral therapy, parents try to enforce behavioral alterations through rewards or withholding privileges [1,3]. Other strategies include psychotherapy, parenting skills training, family therapy and social skills training [1].
It is important to generate a positive, supportive home environment for children struggling ADHD. It is necessary to show children plenty of affection, highlight their strengths, take time to enjoy time with them, find ways to improve their self-esteem (such as art projects, etc), work on organization, use simple words when giving directions, try to maintain a regular schedule, identify difficult situations, make sure the child is rested and be patient [1]!
Alternative treatments that have been tried, but are not yet scientifically proven include yoga or meditation, special diets, vitamin or mineral supplements, herbal supplements, proprietary formulations, essential fatty acids, and neurofeedback training [1].
Is your child struggling in school as a result of ADHD?
Children struggling with ADHD frequently face challenges in the classroom setting. Ask about school programs to assist children with ADHD. A few steps you can take to help your child include:
·         Have your child professionally tested and get the diagnosis in writing

·         There are federal laws in place to help support children with ADHD and similar disabilities including:

o   Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides opportunities for students with ADHD such as a quiet work place, giving tests in quiet places, breaking tests into small pieces and simple, clear directions for homework. Section 504 is typically the best option for students that only require minor changes to their academic routine. This law is a civil rights law meaning its main purpose is to ensure children with disabilities are not discriminated against and that they have equal opportunities within the classroom [4].

o   The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides individualized education programs (IEP). IDEA may work best for students with more intense needs by offering a greater range of services. IDEA also offers parents a greater ability to participate in educational decisions regarding their child [4].

§  IEPs are written documents with written goals based on their level of performance and a list of services.

·         Be patient and willing to figure out what works best for your child, which may take involving teachers, counselors and various services to ensure your child receives the appropriate support to thrive in a learning and social environment. Team efforts are typically the most successful, and require good communication and support between team members.

For more information on how Laughlin Children’s Center can help with evaluations and therapy, contact the Center at 412.741.4087 or learn more at www.laughlincenter.org.

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. "Definition Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 05 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. ‘
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increasing Prevalence of Parent-Reported Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder among Children - United States, 2003 and 2007. MMWR 2010;59:1439-1443.
  3. "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder." A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.
  4. CHADD. "What We Know: Educational Rights for Children with ADHD in Public Schools." National Resource Center on ADHD, 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Laughlin Center on TV


Be on the lookout for this promotional Laughlin Center ad, which Comcast will run October through November!

Monday, August 26, 2013

From our friends at WPIC

ADHD and Executive Function:
Research and Current Treatment Strategies (MC70)

September 13, 2013
University Club
(Oakland Section of Pittsburgh)

This daylong conference will address the multitude of issues surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD across the lifespan.  During the keynote presentations, Brooke Molina, PhD will present new research on the implications of medication treatment in younger individuals and the impact on potential for substance abuse later in life,, and Greg Slomka, PhD will address executive function and brain development.   Afternoon workshops sessions will be broken into three tracks specifically geared toward families of children with ADHD, adults living with ADHD, and clinicians.   

Brooke Molina, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Director, ADHD Research Program
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

Greg Slomka, PhD
Developmental Neuropsychologist
Center for Children and Families
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

For Professionals:
·         Diagnostic Challenges with Young Children
·         Neuropsychological Testing for Executive Functioning and ADHD

For Adults/College Students with ADHD:
·         Alternative Treatments for ADHD (Mindfulness/Yoga/Exercise/Nutrition/Supplements)
·         Tool Kit for Surviving Adult ADHD

For Parents:
·         Landing the Helicopter:  Parent/Teen Negotiation and Transition to Adulthood
·         Positive Language and Parenting Skills and School Communication for Young Children

Details can be found on the website, http://www.wpic.pitt.edu/oerp/conferences

For additional information or to receive a brochure, please contact Mary Healy at healymk@upmc.edu or (412) 204-9080.

For a complete list of all our programs, please visit our website at www.wpic.pitt.edu/oerp

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Laughlin at Sewickley Unleashed 2013!

Pictured above is a dog bowl inspired by Laughlin's summer programming that was raffled off at this year's Sewickley Unleashed festivities! Proceeds benefitted the Western PA Humane Society.

Earlier this month, Sewickley hosted the fourth annual Sewickley Unleashed event!  Laughlin and other local businesses all played a part in the day's activities by setting up booths on Broad Street for the afternoon.  The day kicked off with a (first ever) 5K race, and was followed by a Pet Parade with over 100 canine friend participants! Funds raised at the event were donated to the Western PA Humane Society.  100.7 STAR Pittsburgh covered the day-long, pet-lovers event over the airwaves.  

A fashion showcase of styles from various Sewickley boutiques outfitted local business representatives with their clothing, accompanied by an animal friend.  Laughlin's lovely Operations Manager, Rebecca (pictured above), sported a fresh, hippie-chic outfit from Spoiled Chics Boutique, and walked the runway with a helium version of Laughlin's own unofficial mascot, Olive Florey.  

Be sure to mark you calendars for Sewickley Unleashed 2014, scheduled to take place on the 3rd Saturday in May! It sure was a doggone, fun time for the entire community and we hope to see you and your pets at next year's celebration.  To find out more about this event, please visit www.sewickleyunleashed.org, and check out the awesome pictures of participating pups from Jenny Karlsson Photography at her Facebook page! Woof!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The 100 Stutter Project: Stutter Beautifully

Cameron Francek stutters.

However, instead of letting his stutter define his life, Francek has embarked on a personal journey to spread awareness about this disorder, ask the world to have patience with stutterers, and build his self-confidence by getting out of his comfort zone. His fear-facing project entitled, 100 Stutter Project, has been receiving national publicity and has been inspiring and encouraging many people!

Francek has challenged himself to approach complete strangers over the course of 100 days in the following manner: "Hi there. My name is Cameron. I'm a person who stutters. I'm doing a project where every day for 100 days, I'm disclosing to people that I'm a person who stutters in kind of an effort to expose people to it and educate people and spread awareness. Is it okay if I ask you a couple of questions about it?"

Pictured above is an example of one of Cameron's intitiatives - a bracelet stamped with the phrase "Stutter Beautifully".  Some stigmas that he is trying to knock is the popular, inaccurate notion that stuttering is a result of emotional problems or is a kind of "nervous disorder".  In reality, stuttering is often genetic and may not be able to be fixed.

In addition to all of Francek's recent efforts, he is also studying to become a speech-language pathologist, so that he can help other children who struggle with their speech! You can read up on Francek's journey on his blog: www.100stutterproject.blogspot.com.  Please share Cameron's inspiring story as Better Speech & Hearing Month wraps up this week!

You can also read John Carlisle's full article from Detroit Free Press on Cameron Francek by clicking here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Important Message from Standing Firm

Read up on a recently published Post Gazette article about the important work that our partners at Standing Firm are doing in the Pittsburgh area to address domestic partner violence in the workplace. To find out more information about Standing Firm, its initiatives, or how you can become involved, be sure to visit their website at http://www.standingfirmswpa.org/.  

Co-workers say they see domestic violence in the area
May 14, 2013
By Ann Belser / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Not only are a third of Pittsburgh-area workers aware of colleagues who are dealing with domestic violence at home, a lot of them are covering for those colleagues at work. A survey sponsored by Standing Firm, an Oakland-based non-profit that trains companies, managers and employees to recognize the signs of intimate partner violence, found that just over a quarter of respondents knew someone who was being abused at home, and just over 5 percent knew someone who was abusing a domestic partner.

“National surveys show about the same percentage of people report knowing of someone in their workplace who is affected by domestic violence,” said Patricia Cluss, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the program, Standing Firm: The Business Case to End Partner Violence.

Ms. Cluss said the survey was commissioned to assess the local situation regarding domestic violence:

“Although the numbers are startling, we were not surprised by them,” she said. For people who knew or suspected a co-workers was a victim of domestic violence, nearly half felt they should cover for that person at work – and of those people, nearly 60 percent said they had to cover for an abused colleague fairly or somewhat frequently by offering excuses or work performance. Almost the same percentage, 57 percent, covered for a colleague who was an abuser. 

Domestic violence affected people’s ability to be on time for work and their ability to complete their work. Respondents who had co-workers who were victims of domestic violence said they notice their co-workers missed days (53.8 percent), came in late, left early or took frequent breaks (47 percent), or did not complete assignments (41 percent). 

Those with co-workers who were abusers saw similar problems, with the abusers missing days (38.9 percent); coming in late, leaving early or taking frequent breaks (55.6 percent); or being unable to complete work (30.6 percent). Those who knew abusers also were concerned for their own safety, with 40 percent saying they were extremely or very concerned and 25.7 percent somewhat concerned. For those who knew victims, 20.5 were extremely or very concerned for their own safety and 23.9 percent were somewhat concerned. 

Those concerns are well placed. Nearly one in five workplace fatalities are homicides and of those, 39 percent are committed by a relative or domestic partner.

Daniel Adley, CEO of KTA-Tator Inc. in Findlay, said he was never so naïve as to think that his company would not be affected by domestic violence, so after he heard a presentation by Ms. Cluss, he asked Standing Firm to work with his engineering company.
First, KTA-Tator changed its policies so that people who were victims of domestic violence would know they were supported and so that abusers would be put on notice the company would not tolerate the use of its equipment, such as telephones or computers, to harass victims.

Standing Firm first did a training session for supervisors, then a presentation for the entire company. After the program, two employees approached supervisors and were directed to outside help. “I would encourage every company to do this. The investment we put out for the return is no comparison,” Mr. Adley said.

The company even received an award last week from the Women’s Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh for its work to support its workers who are victims of domestic violence, but Mr. Adley said he was embarrassed to accept it, since it seemed like it was what every company should do for its workers.  

To view the original article, click here.  

Hats Off to Some Great QV Staff!

(To view this picture and the original article, visit the Sewickley Patch!)
On May 9th, six teachers from Quaker Valley School District were honored as Distinguished Staff members for their expertise, dedication and valuable impact that they have on Quaker Valley's students. These awards were made possible by Friends of Quaker Valley Schools of EducationFoundation, and the awardees were nominated by QVSD administration.  Honored teachers included:
 - Jessica Garavaglia, special education teacher, Quaker Valley High School
 - Samantha Hiller, cafeteria and transportation support staff, Quaker Valley Middle School
 - Jenielle Johnson, third grade teacher, Osborne Elementary School
 - Corrie Nye, music teacher, Quaker Valley Middle School
 - Laura Piatek, fourth grade teacher, Edgeworth Elementary School
 - Thomas Pipkins, paraprofessional, Quaker Valley High School
The Laughlin community would like to thank each of these six individuals for their resilient commitment to furthering the development and education of the children in Quaker Valley's community!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bullying + Stuttering

Dr. Ian Roth and Dr. Deryk Beal recently published some facts about the connection between bullying and stuttering.

·        Bullying comes in many forms and degrees – physical, verbal, a look of intimidation, or social alienation
·        A recent case study showed that over 80% of a group of children who stutter have been bullied on account of their speech difference.
·        Common forms of bullying in children who stutter is imitation and name-calling.
·        Children ages 11 – 13 years of age experience more bullying than any other age.
·        Children who are teased are generally anxious, insecure, cautious, depressed, and have low self esteem (Banks 1997).

Self Esteem
·        Self esteem insecurities typically begin to show in children ages eight and above
·        Children who stutter are often excluded from peer groups, making a child who is an inadequate speaker feel like he or she is an inadequate person
·        Preschool-aged children receive affirmation and acceptance from home, so teasing tends not to affect self-esteem at this age yet
·        Communication expert Arun Khanna, of the Stuttering Association of Toronto, argues that self-esteem tends to return by late adolescence.
·        Self-help groups that allow stutterers speak with others who stutter can be a worthwhile and productive activity.

Strategies for Parents

Preventive Measures
·        Parents should start looking for speech disfluencies between the ages of two and five in their children.
·        An open and honest parent-child relationship will help a stuttering child finesse the tough period of time where bullying may take place.
·        Assure your children that you are always willing to listen and help, especially around stuttering or teasing issues. 
·        Letting a child know that he or she is not alone when they are being teased is very important. 
·        Sharing personal stories about how a parent overcame teasing when they were young can impact a young child significantly. 
·        Despite a child’s stutter, parents should ensure that they accept and love the child as they are, stuttering and all.  

Reactive Measures
·        Parents should address teasing from siblings or peers and not let it go unrecognized.
·        Check with a school’s policy on teasing before sending your child to school, and talk with the classroom teacher and/or principal to be aware.
·        Special treatment should not be shown to a stuttering child, but adults should be on the lookout for potential teasing.

Strategies for the Child Who Stutters

Preventative Measures
·        Speech-language therapy is a common and effective tool for children to cope with teasing and empower them in their communication skills. For specific information on the speech-therapy services at Laughlin, visit our website or get in contact with one of our awesome speech-language pathologists at 412-741-4087

Reactive Measures
When face to face with a bully, a child can choose to do one of the following:
·        Avoid – The child can alter his/her own behavior to avoid the teaser, such as walking a different route home from school. The bully will lose interest.
·        Ignore – The child learns to ignore the bully when teasing occurs, not reacting and giving in the bully. The child may have to endure teasing for a long time before it stops.
·        Inform – The child informs an adult when teasing takes place, effective if the adults present can manage teasing well.  Parents are often more effective and willing to address teasing than teachers. 
·        Confront – The child learns to confront and inform the teaser.  An example may be for the stuttering child to say, “Yes, I stutter. It is a problem that is not my fault. Would you like to learn more about why I stutter or what you can do to help me?” If employed in a confident manner, this strategy can empower children who stutter, but may be difficult.
·        Witticism – The child learns to make light of his own stuttering problem in front of the bully.  This strategy will benefit children who think quickly and have the confidence to implement it.  It is not an easily-coachable strategy. 

Friends & Siblings
·        Children who are closest to children who stutter should be part of that child’s support system.
·        Allow the stutterer extra time to speak, not to interrupt, and not to fnish their sentences.

Teachers & The School Setting
·        School requires a lot of opportunities for children to speak in front of large groups. 
·        Teachers should have a sensitivity to these tasks, not asking children who stutter to be put outside of their comfort zone. 
·        Teachers should proactively look for teasing, address it immediately, and uphold respect for others in the classroom. 

The more aware that the world is about the types of speech and language disorders, the better that understanding can be reached and bullying put to an end.  An initiative such as listing famous people who stutter, like Michael J. Fox, is a great way to validate the disorder to children. Reminding people that stuttering is nobody’s fault, and that bullying or teasing is wrong. 

This paper was submitted for SLP 1529H Fluency Disorders taught by Dr. Luc De Nil, Department of Speech-Language Pathology University of Toronto, May 28, 1999, and was added with permission June 1, 1999.  To read the full article, click here.