Archive for March, 2010

“Celebrity Apprentice” Episode 3 – An Adver-what?!

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This week’s “Celebrity Apprentice” recap is written by Amy Hummell. Amy is the Arizona Director at Autism Speaks and has kept up with The Apprentice ever since its first show.

What an interesting episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” …

Starting where they left off last week, everyone was trying to guess who would be fired. The consensus was Bret “Every Rose Has its Thorn” Michaels, but then he appeared and Sinbad did not. We then cut away to Maria Kanellis, who is meeting with John Paul, a youngster who was diagnosed with acute lymphoma leukemia at the age of five. His wish, being granted by Make-A-Wish Foundation, is to meet Donald Trump (interesting, for a five-year-old). Maria said we will see him again at the finale show and he will get to meet “The Donald.” In the meantime, he had the task of delivering $20,000 to the home offices!

The episode’s theme was identity theft and the celebrities were to make a 4-page advertorial, choose a celebrity spokesperson and then present their photos, ad, and ideas to the executives from Norton and Lifelock. (Whew!) It could have helped to receive a formal definition of “advertorial” (foreshadowing), but nonetheless, the teams perservered. Summer volunteered to lead the women and Darryl Strawberry nominated Michael Johnson (more foreshadowing). Also, instead of Ivanka this week, we were treated to Gavin Maalouf, of The Palms Hotel & Casino and the Sacramento Kings.

At first, everyone was excited for Summer to lead them. But then they were waiting for Summer to lead them … and waiting and waiting. Although Summer is a great of a communicator and super organized, she truly struggled with the vision and message of this project for this campaign. I mean, seriously, she heard about it four hours before and she couldn’t get it together?! Then she started complaining about Cyndi Lauper again and all of her monotonous questions – doesn’t Summer remember one of Cyndi’s best friends is Rosie O’Donnell?

Michael Johnson, on the other hand, was crisp and clean with an overall vision and delegation expertise. (Much smoother than last week with Sinbad.) The trouble started when Bret Michaels began asking questions and spouting thoughts – basically coming up with all sorts of ideas, some quite good, that simply weren’t Michael’s ideas. Bret took a backseat, only to have Former Gov. Rod step up to let people know that he isn’t really good at anything. The former Governor of Illinois can’t type and he can’t help himself from saying hello to people on the street. The guys keep thinking it is a political thing, but we know the truth – self importance and need for the limelight!

Sharon Osborne is chosen as the celebrity spokesperson from the ladies team to become “The Protector.” Curtis Stone was chosen for the men’s team as the spokesperson since he is hip and now. Curtis is the “everyday man” while the product was faster than Michael Johnson and stronger than Goldberg.

Then the work really got started – Maria and Cyndi went to go get props. When Cyndi shows the ladies at the store “the face,” they immediately receive a $100 discount. Cyndi then carries everything and Maria declares this to be the Cyndi Lauper Workout 101. Darryl and Rod go out for the props needed by the boys’ team, but the only excitement is when Gov. Rod keeps introducing himself to people.

Our hero, Holly Robinson Peete, seemed to be the glue, especially when it came to technology- with those long nails clacking away on the keyboard trying to get the Powerpoint finished. Of course, the computer hookup did not work through the house audio visual. It did get going and then, once again, Sharon Osborne burst into a coughing fit!

On the boys’ side, Bret was working with the graphic artist and coming up with cool ideas that Michael Johnson didn’t want. They went with his idea of keeping to the letter of the law for the definition of an advertorial. Who knew Michael was so smart? He said he would read every word from the word-heavy ad, and we believe him. The trouble is there aren’t many people like him any longer. Short, picture 1,000 words, etc. – that is what consumers read and comprehend.

In the board room, the men looked very dapper in their suits and ties, while the girls wore black pant suits with the bright gold yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the company logo on the front. In the end, the executives liked the women’s idea better so Summer took the win with $20,000 for Right to Play. In addition, as the winning team, all of the new products will have a portion of their sales go towards Right to Play, too.

It was time for the men to face the music – this is where it gets strange.

Everyone thought Michael Johnson was such an incredible leader that they didn’t know who to fire. So Darryl Strawberry spoke up, thinking he was making a point and asked to be fired. He was tired and he wanted to let Michael continue to excel. Perhaps since he nominated Michael, his failing and being fired would have been too much for him and his ego. Crazy cat, indeed!

The saddest part was that Darryl Strawberry was playing for The Darryl Strawberry Foundation, which supports people affected by autism. This being said, Holly Robinson Peete was personally disappointed.

As I said in the beginning, it was an interesting night on the Celebrity Apprentice indeed!

Would you like to be next week’s guest blogger? Send your recap of “Celebrity Apprentice” to, prior to 8 a.m. next Monday. We will select our favorite for posting here.

Autism in the News – Wednesday, 03.31.10

Build-A-Bear Workshop Supports Autism Speaks in Honor of Autism Awareness Month (St. Louis, Mo.)
Build-A-Bear Workshop(R), the interactive entertainment retailer of customized stuffed animals, announced today that it will raise funds to support Autism Speaks in honor of Autism Awareness Month. This is the sixth consecutive year that the company and its foundation have supported the charity, which funds research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism and advocates for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Guests can visit any Build-A-Bear Workshop retail location in the United States and donate $1 at checkout register to support Autism Speaks from March 31 through May 2. Read more.

Trial Date Set For One Boy In Norland Sex Assault (Miami, Fla.)
A trial date has been set for a Norland Elementary School student who has been charged as an accessory in the sexual assault of a female classmate. Read more.

Fight Lights iPhone App Supports Autism Awareness – Light it up Blue (Bethesda, Md.)
Shine your light blue to commemorate Autism Awareness Day on Friday, April 2. Download color #10 on the Fight Lights color picker and taking action to raise awareness about autism in our communities. A percentage of proceeds will go to Autism Speaks for the entire month of April as Fight Lights encourages all fans to fight for autism awareness and shine a blue light wherever they are! Read more.

New WVU program trains teachers to help children with autism (W.Va.)
With more than 1,000 reported cases of autism in West Virginia, the need for teachers trained in understanding how to help children with the disorder is great, but West Virginia University’s Behavior Analysis for Teachers program is trying to address that need. Read more.

Father of autistic child launches ‘Operation Jack’ (Kan.)
When Sam Felsenfeld broke his neck at the age of 16 in a swimming pool accident, it was fate that allowed him to regain the use of his legs. Read more.

Valley adults with autism get chance to open for business (Phoenix, Ariz.)
The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center has started a job training program for adults with autism. Read more.

Susceptibility to Autism Tied to Genes (Health Day News)
Researchers have discovered two genes for brain proteins that seem to be linked to autism disorders. Read more.

Louisiana Lights It Up Blue!

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has made a proclamation designating April as Autism Awareness Month in Louisiana.  They’ll kick it off with the Old Governor’s Mansion participating in  “Light It Up Blue” and have April for awareness raising efforts and activities.

How will you be Lighting It Up Blue to promote autism awareness, beginning this Thursday and Friday? Visit to host an event or find one in your area.

Want to Light It Up Blue online? Check out our web downloads, including one you can use as your Facebook profile picture.

Here are suggested status updates you can use on Facebook and Twitter:

April 1:
Light it up blue today for the 1 in 110 children with autism. Visit to help us shine a bright light on #autism

April 2:
I am donating my status today for World Autism Awareness Day. Visit to learn more and get involved #autism

Stay tuned for more great ideas and be sure to share with us how you plan to Light It Up Blue by commenting below.

Autism in the News – Tuesday, 03.30.10

2 Suspects In Norland Sex Assault Appear In Court (Miami, Fla.)
Two Norland Elementary School students accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in a school bathroom made an appearance in court Tuesday. Read more.

Ben Franklin Bridge will be lighted for causes in April (Camden, N.J.)
The Ben Franklin Bridge will have special lighting themes during April to promote autism awareness, the Gift of Life Donor program, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Earth Day, Easter Sunday and the March of Dimes. Read more.

New York woman to be arrested for faking autism counseling credentials (Norwalk, Conn.)
After more a year’s investigation, a New York woman whose company charged Norwalk public schools over a $160,000 for providing autism treatment is about to be arrested on three counts of first-degree larceny, police said. Read more.

Autism registry to be launched in Ottawa (Canada)
Ottawa will become the second city in Canada to launch a registry to equip first responders with the tools needed to assist autistic individuals. Read more.

Mum of Pudsey teenager kicked in head appeals for witnesses (UK)
The mother of a Bradford student with Asperger’s Syndrome who was beaten to the floor and kicked repeatedly in the head has lambasted the “disgusting” behaviour of his attackers. Read more.

Chesapeake student loses bid for private-school tuition (Chesapeake, Va.)
A hearing officer has rejected a family’s request for private school tuition reimbursement for their daughter. Read more.

Huntsville mother and son to go to Montgomery to rally for autism (Huntsville, Ala.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one out of every 110 children has some form of autism.  Read more.

Update – Autism Speaks Blog

March 29, 2010 1 comment

As you may have noticed, we have been experiencing technical difficulties with the Autism Speaks Blog since Friday morning. While we will be able to repost the archived content over the course of the next few days, we have most likely lost the comments and discussion associated with the individual posts.

With World Autism Awareness Day happening this Friday, April 2, it is important that we have our blog back up and running. We apologize for the downtime and hope to get back on track quickly.

We thank you for your readership and hope you will continue to be an active member of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail me at

Jennifer Parsons
Social Marketing Manager
Autism Speaks

Andrew’s Second Home, a Robbery and a Very Happy Ending

March 26, 2010 2 comments

This guest post is by Denise Bianchi. Denise is an Autism Speaks staffer who has two children, one with autism. She and her family live in Staten Island, N.Y.

As we sing our song, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” Andrew yells and cries out “hamster!”

How can I possibly explain to my son why someone would break into his favorite place other than home and steal everything he could get his hands on?  Andrew, like most of the students at Eden II, does not understand such cruelness.  Andrew only knows how good he feels when he wakes up in the morning and I say, “Get up, it’s school time!”  He smiles, even though his eyes are still closed.  He runs on the school bus, but not before he steps on the two lines on the sidewalk, smiles at the bus window and gives his daily numbers to the bus driver. Today’s number was 760 and George says, “Thanks for the lotto numbers Andrew; you will make me rich one day!”  He is a happy boy and Eden makes him feel happy, safe and secure. He receives so much love and respect while learning ABA, socialization and life skills.  Everyday he tells me what each of his seven classmates ate for lunch and what color shirt they each wore.  I  wonder if he realizes his laptop he works so hard for is missing.  Or that his favorite classroom toy is gone?

Eden is a second home; it might be years before he leaves, but that is okay. Eden services children until they are adults. It is incomparable to many schools.  When I read the note from his backpack that the school was robbed, my heart sank. The thieves stole electronics, toys and the class hamster.  It was as though someone came into my own home and took things we loved.  How could anyone do such a thing?  Didn’t they read the sign on the lawn that reads “Eden II School for Children with Autism?”  These poor children who may not understand why good people do bad things were left to question, why? Andrew is completely uncorrupted by society and would never do anything intentionally to hurt someone.  He knows no war, he witnesses no crime.  All he knows is love, and love is all that he gives unconditionally.

We may never understand why, but there is a happy ending to of this. People are good; people do care. A local boy donated his own pet hamster to the school; his parents should be so proud!  Yesterday, the school was so grateful to Best Buy, who donated many electronics to replace those that were stolen, including Wii consoles and a camcorder. The parents, administrators and students are elated. Best Buy was so wonderful to do this.  Immediately the parents of the school passed emails around … I love Best Buy! I will tell everyone to shop there!

You make me happy when skies are gray …  Eden II’s sunshine has not been taken away after all. Thanks to the generosity of Best Buy and many other good samaritans.

Today, Andrew is 11 years old and a good thing came out of a bad situation. It’s a good birthday in spite of everything that happened to his school.

Autism teaches us many lessons. Not the least of which is an important reminder of the kindness, the essential goodness of people – especially when life suddenly throws you the unimaginable.


To offer support, a monetary or in-kind donation:
Eden II School for Children with Autism
Attn: Randy Horowitz
150 Granite Ave,
Staten Island, NY 10303

If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to
 editors@autismspeaks.orgAutism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

Autism in the News – Thursday, 03.25.10

Teens make time for disabled kids (Palm Springs, Calif.)

Sunday afternoon’s Easter Egg-Stravaganza at Xavier College Preparatory High School was all about community, Makeala Logan said. Read more.

District faces challenge of jump in autism cases (Chula Vista, Calif.)

The number of students with autism in the Sweetwater Union High School District has skyrocketed 1,000 percent the past nine years to the point where about 239 children are afflicted with the disorder. Read more.

Jury To Resume Deliberations In Page Trial (Pittsburgh, Penn.)

The life of a man convicted of letting his 23-month-old daughter freeze to death outside after he allegedly abused her is in the hands of a jury. Read more.

Artist with autism paints soap opera stars (Chicago, Ill.)

This weekend is the perfect time to visit the Chicago Cultural Center, especially for soap fans! Read more.

Boys charged in Norland Elementary sex attack (Miami, Fla.)

Three boys were charged Wednesday in the sexual assault of an 11-year-old autistic girl in an elementary school restroom. Read more.

Serving Students with Special Needs in Charters (Part 1) (New York, N.Y.)

Critics of charter schools often complain they get higher-than-average test scores because they don’t take a fair share of special education students. More than 16 percent of city public school students receive special education services, compared to about 11 percent of those in charters. But one charter is going out of its way to prove it can educate the neediest pupils alongside their non-disabled peers. Read more.

Casey’s, Hy-Vee Taking Part in Autism Awareness Month (New York, N.Y.)Casey’s General Stores and Hy-Vee are taking part in the series of awareness and fundraising initiatives planned by Autism Speaks – the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization – to celebrate Autism Awareness Month in April. Read more.

Inmates Help Teen Fight Autism (Louisville, Ky.)

It’s an unusual combination for a worthy cause; women in prison making bracelets to fight autism. Read more.

Update: Accused murderer’s wife takes stand (Mesa County, Colo.)

The wife of accused murderer Allen Grabe says she believes her husband was legally insane when he shot and killed her son Jacob. When asked by the defense if she believed Satan played a role in her sons death, Jacquette Grabe said yes. Read more.

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