February 2017

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

    Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities       for  students with special needs 

In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Diversifying Your Special Needs Planning Portfolio

When you first started working, I am sure at some point you were given advice about retirement. If you were a planner or asked the question, "When should I start putting money away for retirement?" the answer or advice you most likely received was, no matter how small it is, start investing now. At a young age, it is hard to see the future benefit of this investment, but we know all too often, for many people, it is overlooked. Even people I speak with today wished they planned earlier. It is also important that we put this investment into the right portfolio to meet our needs. Unless you have a talent in investing, we need advisors to help us, but the first step is taking the action to do it. 
We need to have this same investment mindset when planning for our students for post 22. This planning should happen as early as possible. Do not overlook how important this is. Age 22 is certainly not a retirement age, but when this time comes, your "Vision" for your child is going to be a reality, and you want to be prepared. 
How do you know you are putting your time and energy into the right resources and diversifying your planning? First, do not put all your energies into one vision. We need to consider Academics, Social and Career planning; with independence being the essential focus. They all hold equal importance. In IEP meetings and other Team meetings, we speak about very specific goals and objectives, and this is essential to building skills. Is there discussion on how independent the student is and what we are doing to work towards this? How do all these goals and objectives lead to what the student will be doing when they graduate? The more independent a student is, the more opportunities they will have. 
Would we invest our money in one stock, bond, or index fund? We know this is too risky, we need to diversify, and we need to have a plan. At Team meetings, invest time in talking about Academics, Social opportunities and Career paths. They will all be an extremely important part of our students' lives post 22. We may be investing more time in talking about one component than another, but do not ignore the importance of each of them. I guarantee all of them will be paramount to your son or daughter's future success and happiness.
Ask questions about life after 22. This should start to happen in pre-school or elementary school. You do not need to come to a decision or have specific answers, but start the conversations as early as possible and be curious. 
  • What specific social opportunities will exist for my son or daughter when they graduate? (This will be your greatest concern and what is missing when your son or daughter graduates!)
  • What options are there for housing when my son or daughter is 18, 25 or 30? (This question will be your most difficult conversation to have.)
  • What skills will they need to live independently?
  • What skills will my son or daughter need to be employable?
  • What are employers looking for?
  • What colleges support and offer classes for students with special needs?
  • What happens when my son or daughter turns 22?
  • What are the priorities?
  • Can you give me examples of what graduates are doing that are functioning similar to my son or daughter? What are they doing for Social, Career and Independent living? 
  • What has worked and what hasn't worked? 
  • What do parents of graduates wish they had done differently? If they could start all over again, what would they do differently?
These are all difficult questions, but you have resources right now to discuss all of them. Do not wait until your son or daughter is getting close to 22, start talking about these questions when they are as young as possible. We have seen too many parents struggle, as these questions become realities.

Physical Therapy & Posture at Chenery
By: Margaret Tessler
Students who are comfortable and healthy are ready to learn, and physical therapists play a role in supporting this at LABBB Chenery. In addition to providing direct physical therapy services for some students, the P.T.s also have the opportunity to consult to each of the classes on posture. Good posture has been shown to improve mood and breathing, to improve focus and brain function, and to reduce stress and pain.

Along with OT, we work on appropriate seating, to allow students to attend more easily to academic lessons.  We team up with APE staff to encourage each student to maximize the benefit they receive from exercises and activities in gym classes, especially those that involve stretching and strengthening of postural muscles.

We work with the wonderful Chenery classroom assistants, showing them how they can encourage students to follow through with PT suggestions in natural environments throughout the week. Sometimes this involves use of specific equipment such as standers, orthotics, or specialized seating, each of which can support postural alignment. We also provide and model postural exercises that can be used in class.

Good posture can add to better physical and mental health and improved access to classroom learning. 
Bedford LABBB Paint Class!
By: The LABBB Bedford High Classroom
Some of the students at Bedford LABBB had a paint party this morning!   Each student was given a canvas and a picture to copy.  We worked together step by step.  As we painted, we talked about the difference between working with a canvas as opposed to a piece of paper. We also talked about perception. The students were encouraged to give their pictures individual flair. It was really fun seeing the end product and how different they each were!  We hope to make this a monthly activity.
Adaptive Music With Lisa Symonds
Hello friends and families of LABBB! I'm Lisa Symonds, lead instructor of Amplifi (Adaptive Music Programs for Life), and I have been bringing the joy of music to many of your wonderful students since September 2016. Through our various age-appropriate curriculum units, the students not only engage in adaptive singing, dancing, instrument play, and socialization, but every week they learn something too! 

I've had the pleasure of watching each and every one of them grow right before my very eyes; quite a few students who were shy at first have come out of their shells with the help of music. In class, they have frequently expressed how proud they are of themselves and fellow students, and so am I.

Wouldn't you love to see your students in action? One awesome project we have in every Amplifi class is to write a class song together! With the help of Amplifi staff and the ideas and lyrics of the students, we spend the session writing, learning, practicing, and performing our class song. For more information, please contact your child's current teacher, and make sure to look out for more Amplifi updates in the upcoming LABBB newsletters! 

Thank you LABBB for the warm welcome, and let's continue to succeed as a team!

With Kind Regards,

Lisa Marie Symonds
Second Generation Interview
By: Rebecca Dickson & Sarah Cronin
Did you ever think about sitting in a rumble seat or using an ice box?  The students in Mrs. Cronin and Mrs. Dickson's class spent the months of November and December interviewing family members that are two generations older.   The students created a list of questions to ask, took time over break to conduct interviews, gathered their answers and then created a Google slideshow to demonstrate what they learned.  The students found that there were many similarities between their relatives.  Many people lived with the after effects of the Great Depression.   Many didn't have cars or found that items were much cheaper than they are today.
Some students found that their relatives were entrepreneurs or had to face some serious hardships in order to survive things that we find common place today.  The students learned about history and their families during this unit.  It was fun and informative!

Clinical Corner - How CBT is Helping LABBB Students
By: Lisa Gurdin
On January 12, all LABBB staff enjoyed an afternoon of professional development focused on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Daniel Beck and Fran Kuehn introduced this type of therapy to the staff and explained how it can be an effective approach for our students who experience a high level of stress, anxiety, negative thinking, low self-esteem, and emotional dysregulation.  

The CBT approach is based on the premise that an individual's thoughts are indications of underlying beliefs and cause us to feel or behave a certain way. This becomes evident when presented with a triggering event. By changing how we think about something or by altering our beliefs, we can also adjust how we feel or respond to a certain event(s) in our lives. 

The work of CBT is to explore how our beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviors are interrelated and then to establish healthier patterns of beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This is done through hands-on activities during weekly individual and/or group therapy as well as through homework tasks. The goal of the activities is to increase an individual's awareness of their beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and to change unhealthy patterns related to those processes so that s/he feels less stressed, sad, and anxious. Self-monitoring, self-evaluation, and self-reinforcement are three examples of techniques our counselors use to help our students with these efforts.

At LABBB, CBT is done in individual therapy and in groups with students who have emotional challenges. The approach is differentiated and modified so that students of varying cognitive levels can access it.  Mindfulness, journaling, role-playing, modeling, videos, and visuals are incorporated to help students maximize their experience in therapy sessions. 
Make Listening Fun!
By: Meghan Coonan
During Social Group, Fox Hill students work on a variety of skills to help them to be more successful at school. This week Ms. Maloney's classroom worked on their listening skills! The students played a game called "Listening Ladybugs" where they were given three step directions to follow. These directions could include something like, "jump up and down, touch your nose, and then count to 5." Students would have to first listen to the directions and then act them out in the order they were given. 

The students did an excellent job practicing their listening skills and following directions. Some students even helped to support friends who were having a more difficult time by giving them hints about the direction they were missing. Using games to practice different skills can help the students to be more engaged and excited about what they are learning!

Snowmen at Preschool
By: Lisa Costa
LABBB preschoolers were saying, "Let It Snow" recently because our theme for the month of January was snowmen!   Throughout the month, students participated in a variety of activities that worked on increasing their vocabulary, comprehension and expressive language skills, as well as improving their number skills and counting.

In math, we gave our snowmen the correct number of snowballs, then buttons, by identifying the number on their hat.  We also incorporated math into an art project by using patterning skills to make a scarf for our beautiful snowman.

During art, we made snowmen with a variety of materials including paint, paper, play-doh, cotton balls and even shaving cream. The students had fun making snowmen and a melted snowman with puffy paint made with shaving cream and glue. We worked on our vocabulary while making snowman and describing all of the items needed to make a snowman. 
In reading, we read the books Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Work.  We worked on our reading comprehension by answering "wh" questions and describing what the snowmen were doing. We also worked on writing our names by making snowman with letter snowballs.  The preschoolers loved joining our K-2 friends for story time.

LABBB preschool had "snow" much fun this past January!

Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
Spring is around the corner at LABBB. Registrations for Spring Bowling, Wednesday Recreation Programs, and our third session of Boxing, have been sent out in the mail, as well as the February trips and even a new Rock Climbing Trip in March. Please respond by the due dates. 
We had our 2017 LABBB ski trip at Attitash Mountain and it was awesome.  We had some veteran skiers and some beginners.  All skiers started on the bunny slope to get their ski's under them.  We improved quickly and some made it to the top of the mountain before the end of the trip.  Check out the photos.  We hope more skiers can join us next year.  The date next year for the trip is February 1st-3rd, 2018.

To view more pictures from the LABBB Ski Trip click here:  Ski Trip pictures

Save The Dates

March 4: Lexington, Arlington, Bedford Best Buddies Prom, Double Tree in           Bedford 
March 15:  Staff VS Students Basketball Game.
April 13: LABBB Prom at the Burlington Marriott
April 27: LABBB Glow Golf Fundraiser at Stone Meadow in Lexington.
May 3: Special Olympics, Rene Rancourt is ready and looking forward to it. 

LABBB Social Media and Podcast
Executive Director's Blog

Parent Resources
  • School Cancellation Policy:  
    All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.
Recreation Links  
(FNFC) Friday Night Fun Club, Bedford, Ann Seamans: AnnSeamans@aol.com or 781-275-8381
(MMArc) Minute Man Arc Afternoon Recreation Afternoon Recreation & Friday Nights (16+yrs), Darcie Heller: dheller@minutemanarc.org or C:978-201-2481/W: 978-287-7936 

(TILL) Toward Independent Living & Learning Travel:  Springboard Club, Dedham, high independence, Dale Belcher: Dale.Belcher@tillinc.org or 781-302-4619 (RARA) Recreational Adult Resource Association, Lowell Contact: Office@RARAagency.org or 978-453-5598 
Riverside Community Care: DDS Family Support Center, Woburn Kaley Stoner: kstoner@riversidecc.org or 781-686-6073  Lifelinks - DDS Family Support Center, Chelmsford, Rachel Ward Sullivan: wardsullivan@lifelinksinc.net or 978-349-3040  *verify current + open to public 

Greater Marlborough Programs Inc - Social & Recreation (DDS Family Support), Marlborough Jim Karami: Jim@gmpinc.org or 508-485-4227 ext. 1006 
Echo Enrichment, Burlington, Mary Ann Perreira,echonews@echoenrichment.com or 781-640-9351 
Trips R Us, Framingham, Mike Graham: mike@tripsrus.org or 508-405-0999 

Alternative Leisure (ALCS), Bedford, Drew Bilillies: alctrips@aol.com or 781-275-0023 
Music Makes Me Happy Chorus, Lexington, Marsha Martin: Marsha@mmmh-singers.org 
Concord Recreation, Anna Wood: awood@concordma.

Sudbury Therapeutic Recreation, Amber Forbes: ForbesA@sudbury.ma.us or 978-639-3257 

Belmont (SPORT) Special Programs Heidi Barbiero:  recreation@belmont-ma.gov  or 617-993-2760 

(SNAP) Special Needs Arts Program Chorus & Art, Lexington Contact: info@snaparts.org or 781-325-8025

(GWArc) Greater Waltham Arc Recreation/Plus: Mike Mullins: Recreation@gwarc.org or 781-899-1344 x4120  Newton Therapeutic Recreation w/ Newton Athletes Unlimited, NewtonMark Kelly: mkelly@newtonma.gov or 617-796-1527 
Kids in Disability Sports (K.I.D.S.), Lowell, Info: info@kidsinc.us or 866-712-7799 
Access Sport America, Acton, BettyMiller: Betty@accessportamerica.org
Burlington Therapeutic Recreation, Burlington, Laurel Rossiter:
CTRS@burlington.org, 781-270-1937