Tag: autism

Certain Nutrients Bad for Pregnant Women, Hopkins Study Warns



Vitamins are good, right? Well, it’s complicated, according to new research out of Johns Hopkins.

Obese Mothers, Autistic Children?



What causes autism, and why has there been such an increase in the number of children diagnosed with the condition over the past few decades? That question has resulted in much fraught debate–and some bad science, too. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins are wading into the debate with new research that shows a surprising factor that may contribute to an increased risk of autism.

How Hopkins Is Using Mouse Whiskers to Study Autism



Medical research regularly uses mice to test out hypotheses. And usually, those mice are dead. But some really exciting research out of Johns Hopkins has found a new way to study the neuroscience of mice–by peeking into their brains while they’re still alive. Yep, you heard that right–researchers were able to observe the mice brains with such precision that they could see how proteins changed when the mice formed new memories. In real time. That’s nuts.

Treating Autism with Broccoli?



Broccoli is good for you — no seriously, it’s really good for you. That’s the message I take away from this recent research from Johns Hopkins, which indicates that a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts may diminish symptoms in patients with autism.

Johns Hopkins Launches New Center for Autism Research & Education



Autism is a growing issue:  in 2002, 1 in 150 children was identified as being on the autism spectrum; by 2008, that number had grown to 1 in every 88 children. That’s one reason why the launch of the new Wendy Klag Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is such welcome news.

Big Fish Q&A with WBAL Radio Journalist and Autism Activist Mary Beth Marsden


About one-third of the way into Michael Kun’s wry 2003 epistolary comic novel The Locklear Letters, congenial, if often clueless, protagonist Sid Straw pitches himself as a prospective columnist to The Baltimore Sun, suggesting as potential subject matter “how it’s hard to look intellectual when you’re cracking open a crab with a mallet; how no one goes to Orioles games anymore because the team stinks; and how I saw the anchorwoman for Channel 2 news, Mary Beth Marsden, in the mall last week, and she’s even prettier in person than she is on TV.”
A Johns Hopkins graduate who now works as an attorney in Los Angeles, Kun also references Marsden admiringly in his novels You Poor Monster (2005) and My Wife and My Dead Wife (2004). Fact: He’s not a literary stalker. Like millions of others who watched Marsden on WMAR-TV from 1988 to 2009, Kun understands and appreciates Marsden’s innate affability and unpretentiouness — the sense that you know her (and like her), even if you’ve never met her.
“Mentioning her in my books has been something of an inside joke between us and hopefully maintains my Baltimore street cred,” Kun explains. “For whatever reason, Marsden reminds me of Baltimore as much as anyone.” 
Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Montgomery County, Mary Beth Marsden earned a degree in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1983, and then embarked on a media career, working as a TV news producer, anchor, or reporter in D.C. (1985-1987), Harrisburg (also the station’s “weather girl,” she admits, in 1987), and Scranton (1987-1988), before joining Baltimore’s Channel 2. (For a kick, witness her succumb to a good-natured on-air laughing fit at WMAR.)
After parting company with the station in 2009, Marsden, whose daughter Tess has autism, founded the website reallookautism.com this past July; via compelling and compassionate short narrative videos, the site, according to Marsden, serves as a “visual resource [that] presents different therapies and strategies … for working with children who have autism spectrum disorders.” Two months later, she signed on as afternoon news anchor with WBAL Radio.
Now 49, Marsden lives in Ruxton with her husband, former WBAL-TV reporter/photographer Mark McGrath (now a vice president/financial advisor at Stifel Nicolaus), and their three children: 13-year-old Jack, 12-year-old George, and 10-year-old Tess. Not surprisingly, Marsden surfaces again in Kun’s upcoming Everybody Says Hello, scheduled for publication this spring.     


Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.   

Figure it out, make choices, and then go for it — find something to create and give thanks.


When did you define your most important goals, and what are they? 

Right now, my goal is to do the best I can and try not to waste time worrying. 


What is the best advice you ever got that you followed

I guess the best advice was from my father, who used to tell us all the time that life isn’t fair, so I never expected it to be.


The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it? 

“Why don’t you grow your hair?” That’s advice from my mother, which I ignore every six weeks.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

1) There’s freedom in saying “no.” 

2) Prayer helps. 

3) Sometimes bigger is better, and sometimes less is more.


What is the best moment of the day? 

I have a few. Driving my daughter to school, we say very little to each other, and I think it’s meditative for both of us. After a workout. And whenever the kids are asleep (kidding).


What is on your bedside table? 

An iPad, the Bible, A Game of Thrones (by George R.R. Martin), Kleenex, eye shades, and always a glass of water.

What is your favorite local charity? 

Any local autism 501c3.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing? 

Be curious. And have an annoying need for answers and a belief that what you are doing not only satisfies your desire to know something new but also fills an important service of providing
information. Lastly, go for it, but don’t do it for money or fame.


Why are you successful?

It’s not really something I measure in myself. I have wins and losses. Hopefully, I learn from the latter and don’t sit celebrating the former too long.


To date, what have you found to be the most challenging aspect of switching from television to radio broadcasting? What has been the most surprising difference between the two media?

Remembering to turn my microphone on and off and stop calling my listeners “viewers.” Radio is amazingly immediate; television takes an army. On radio, I never have a bad hair day.


What motivated you to create your website devoted to autism? What do you hope to achieve with the project?

Our daughter was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) nearly six years ago. Last spring, I started producing “solution-based” videos of children with autism for reallookautism.com. I want everyone in the world to view them, but they are created first and foremost as guides for parents and teachers who are trying to help a child with an ASD.


When you and your husband want to indulge in a romantic dinner together — temporarily escaping the kids, escaping your jobs, escaping the myriad daily responsibilities of your lives — where do you go? Why that restaurant? And what is your favorite dish on the menu?

Mark and I do need to get out more and let the kids stay home and game themselves to death.
When we do, it’s often to a restaurant we haven’t tried before. Last time we ate out, we went to Rocket to Venus in Hampden. Good beer selection, nice salad.


Learning to Cope with Autism


The video “Fixing Autism” on our video landing was sent to us by Mark Kodenski, a partner at Brown Advisory who has a child with autism. It was sent to him by autism awareness activist Adrienne Gleason who got it from former WMAR anchor Mary Beth Marsden’s website RealLookAutism.com, which chronicles her life with her autistic child.

The video features Lou, a father of three whose eldest, Bianca, has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through a series of index cards, he shares his struggles raising a child with ASD. The Indiana dad writes about his challenges on his blog “Lou’s Land.” 

“My life consists of fighting chaos at every turn and trying to develop routines that will help Bianca to thrive and feel comfortable while trying to ensure that my other kids do not resent their sister for the restraints her condition put on our daily lives.” 

Whether you have a child with autism or not, any parent can identify with Lou’s desire to do well by his child. Take a minute to check out the powerful and moving video. 

Video Spotlight is a new feature on Baltimore Fishbowl that highlights videos of particular interest.