do we begin? The Community Outreach efforts of both AutismLink
and the Autism Center of Pittsburgh are amazing, if we do say so ourselves.
Not only do we help parents on a day-to-day basis with information,
resources, referrals, and more, we provide opportunities for inclusion
for families of children with autism spectrum disorders. Because we
are owned and operated by parents, we know how it is -- we live your
life so we know how you feel. Sometimes it's hard to take your children
out to a movie, or fishing, or to a party.
& The Autism Center of Pittsburgh host events on a monthly basis
to get you out and about with your children. Here is a list of just
some of the things we have done and continue to do. If you're interested
in finding out about opportunities like these below, how to get free
tickets or to join our outings, just sign
up for our listserv!
2007 List of Accomplishments
statewide for HB1150 with House Speaker Dennis M. O'Brien & Senator
new Autism Center of Pgh North Hills Branch
* Opened new Autism Center of Pgh South Hills Branch
* Opened new Autism Center of Pittsburgh Moon Twp. Branch
* Served over 600 children with psychological evaluations, OT, and speech
* Answered over 200 calls per week from families seeking information
* Sent out informational packets to newly diagnosed families, free of
* Participated in 24 national and local autism conferences
* Created libraries in South Hills and North Hills branches
* Started North Hills support group
* Started South Hills support group
* Held educational seminars on special needs trusts in conjunction with
Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace, LLC
* Supported local researchers in finding research subjects
* Held GF/CF 101 for families new to the GF/CF diet
* Provided Project Lifesaver Bracelet to WV Teen Lost for Days
* Donated products and moon bounce to OASIS, Ohio walk for autism
* Donated over $3,000 in products for Chinese auctions and raffles
* Provided 10 weighted vests to needy families
* Helped over 300 families, nationwide, with mentor program
* Provided 24 weighted lap pads in conjunction with DreamCatcher Blankets,
free of charge
* Began offering music therapy at the Autism Center
* Teamed up with Pittsburgh CLO to offer Drama Therapy
* Offered free respite in conjunction with North Allegheny Key Club
* Offered Summer Picnic at Idlewild Park for over 300 families (No thanks
to mother nature!)
* Offered Pumpkin Trolley Ride to over 250 participants, free of charge
* Offered free tickets to local venues such as baseball, basketball
* Annual Holiday party for over 200 at the Center for Creative Play
* Held Autism 101 classes for newly diagnosed families in conjunction
* Supported 10 support groups across the state and locally
* Helped to lead the fight for HB1150
* Provided advocacy assistance to over 100 families
* Held free screenings in conjunction with Aspire Pediatric Therapy
* Worked with Hampton High School FBLA to raise autism awareness
* Worked with North Allegheny Key Club to raise autism awareness
* Held Ultra Party in Mt. Lebanon for over 3,000 attendees to raise
Served over 600 children with autism spectrum disorders at the Autism
Center of Pittsburgh.
respite to families of children with autism and their typical siblings,
free of charge.
up with the Pittsburgh CLO to offer drama therapy to children with autism.
catered Autism Awareness Day Picnic at Idlewild Park for over 300 families.
project lifesaver bracelets to several families, including the teen
missing in the WV woods for over 4 days.
Trolley Ride, completely free of charge for families. Over 200 in attendance.
Bell/AutismLink Project Lifesaver In the spring of 2006, Taco
Bell Restaurants and AutismLink teamed up in their bracelets for bracelets
program, where the restaurants sold autism awareness gel bracelets to
raise money to provide several local underprivileged, low income parents
of children with autism with Project Lifesaver bracelets. Project Lifesaver
Bracelets are bracelets that the children wear that emit a tracking
signal, in the event that they become lost or disoriented. This happens
frequently with children with autism. Children with autism are often
unaware of danger and often wander away and become lost. Unfortunately,
many of those children never return home. AutismLink provided 15 local
families who have children with autism and a history of running away
with these bracelets.
In August 06 we teamed up with an organization called the Wheelin
Sportsmen, which provides the disabled with opportunities to get out
and experience nature. Not only the physically disabled, but the mentally
disabled as well. Together, we were able to provide over 80 families
with the opportunity to take their children with autism to a private
lake near West Virginia. Some of the children caught their first fish.
The smiles on their faces were priceless. We cooked over 160 hamburgers,
80 hot dogs and had 20 lbs. of potato salad!! Everyone had a really
great time and the kids were able to get out and experience fishing,
thanks to AutismLink. Everything was completely free of charge
was able to send over 450 family members of children with autism to
events such as Pirates Baseball, Penguins Hockey, Pitt Basketball, Stars
on Ice, local plays, ballets, and other cultural events. All are completely
free of charge
Every October, AutismLink hosts a Halloween Haunted Trolley Ride. We
rent the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum after hours, and let the children
and their families ride the rail cars to a pumpkin patch, where the
children can pick a pumpkin from the patch, and decorate it. This is
by far our most popular event where we host over 130 each year. The
entire event is free for all family members.
AutismLink has donated over $2,500 in books and audio visual materials
to local libraries that participate in the Pennsylvania State Interlibrary
Lending program. Any book in one of these libraries can be borrow by
any family in the network, statewide. We purchased books, videos and
DVDs for the library program.
AutismLink secured 150 amusement park tickets to one of the most desired
parks in Western Pennsylvania Kennywood Park. While other organizations
sell the tickets to make money for their organizations, AutismLink chose
to give them to families of children with autism completely free of
AutismLink holds an annual Holiday Party at the Center for Creative
Play for families of children with autism, completely free of charge.
AutismLink provides dinner and desert and presents for the children,
along with a visit from Santa, and gifts for all of the children. We
even provide gluten free/casein free dietary options for those children
on restrictive diets.
In January of 2005, AutismLink held a workshop in conjunction with a
local School District for parents entitled, Grief Loss and Chronic Stress,
Dealing with Autism in the Family, which was completely free and attended
by over 200 parents. The conference, which featured Dr. Melissa Smiley-Jacobson,
MsEd, LSW, was an incredible resource for parents dealing with grief
and feelings associated with raising children with autism. Entrance
fees and food were completely free of charge.
In March of 2005, AutismLink held a workshop in conjunction with a local
School District for teachers and paraprofessionals entitled, Autism
in the Classroom, Practical Strategies for Success. This conference,
again, was completely free to teachers and paraprofessionals teaching
children with autism in their classrooms. Attended by over 350 professionals,
the conference was a great success. Snacks and drinks were provided,
as well as entrance fees, completely fee of charge.
Advertised over 900 events FREE OF CHARGE for autism organizations across
AutismLink holds a monthly special education support group for parents
where their children can attend. Held in the local center for creative
play, AutismLink pays a local agency to provide therapeutic staff support
for the children to play in the center while parents attend the support
AutismLink is responsible for and supports over 10 support groups across
the State of Pennsylvania Lebanon County, Lancaster County, Penn
State, Butler County, Hermitage, PA, North Hills of Pittsburgh, South
Hills of Pittsburgh, Eastern Pittsburgh, Lower Burrell, PA, Beaver,
PA and a group in Dayton, Ohio.
AutismLink, in conjunction with Duquesne University in August, 2006
held a conference with nationally renowned speaker Dr. Temple Grandin,
Sean Barron and Ms. Rebecca Moyes. The conference which was two days
and was extremely low cost ($35 per person), brought in 550 attendees.
In fall 2006, AutismLink, in conjunction with Duquesne University began
a pilot project for teens and adolescents with autism. The project,
which is a social skills mentoring program, will pair teens and adolescents
with autism with graduate students in special education who will act
as mentors toward the students with autism. The graduate students will
be overseen by several PhD level instructors who have designed curriculum
for the social skills pilot project. This project will expand in 2007
to include more sessions and more students.
Led the fight in Pennsylvania against copayments and premiums
Participated in PCN Television Autism Awareness Call-In Show
Participated in Pittsburgh Cable Television Autism Awareness Call-In
Answered over 6,500 email inquiries within 24 hours with parent questions
on topics ranging from advocacy to wraparound!
Answered over 1,000 phone inquires per month.
online art gallery for children with autism to showcase their own artwork!
Played key role in helping Senator Jane Clare Orie write legislation
to stop premiums on Medicaid.
Began special education support group with FREE therapeutic staff support
for local families.
transfer support groups (from Aboard) in Lancaster, PA
Accepted transfer support group (from Aboard) in Kittanning,
new support group in State College, PA
new support group in Hermitage, PA
Began program to give away two weighted lap pads per month, free of
Started affiliate program with over 40 support groups nationwide
in Penn State Autism Conference
advocacy for individuals with autism in legal trouble
Held free conferences/seminars for over 1,000 local teachers, paraprofessionals
and parents in conjunction with local school districts.
Held conference with Temple Grandin, Sean Barron & Rebecca Moyes
in conjunction with Duquesne University for a nominal fee.
Began social skills mentoring groups, in conjunction with Duquesne University,
for teens and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
Held several free outings for children with autism at Loews Waterfront
Held golf outing fundraiser to purchase $2,000 in books and educational
materials for statewide interlibrary lending program.
Paid for respite care for local families in crisis!
Created podcasts with such notable figures as Temple Grandin, Autism
Speaks, Dr. Stephen Gutstein, and more.