The LABBB Collaborative
  December 2015
LABBB Basketball Team arrives in Natick for their first game of the 2015-2016 Season
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director:  
Holidays and the LABBB Community Before, During and After 22
by: Patric Barbieri
Dear LABBB Community: 

On Saturday, December 4, I had two engagements that I was looking forward to attending. The first was the annual holiday party at my sister's group home and the second was the annual LABBB-Best Buddies Craft Fair. It so happens that every single year my sister's holiday party is the same day as the craft fair. My sister attended LABBB and graduated in 1997. She has Down syndrome and lives in a 
group home in Lexington with four other LABBB graduates.
The holiday party at my sister's house started at 10:30 a.m. I arrived at about 11:00 a.m., and the house was packed with family and friends. I would have thought I was walking into a LABBB dance, as the music was playing, and everyone was having a great time. Just watch the two-minute YouTube video above that I recorded, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. It wasn't even noon time and they are dancing away!
When my sister moved out of my parents' house about nine years ago, then 31-years old, she had a hard time identifying which was her real home. It took time, about three or four years after she moved out, to become acclimated to her new home. It is quite apparent now that her group home is her home. Her home community is very strong because of the their connections. All the residents of   this group home graduated from LABBB, and they still have a special bond with the LABBB community. The adults in the group home are all different ages, so they were not friends while they were at LABBB, but the parents made connections through LABBB even after their sons and daughters graduated. This home was a very successful endeavor by the former LABBB parents, and they continue to build and make changes to this home. 
What was amazing about the holiday party was that the attendees were people from the Lexington community with whom the home's residents have developed relationships. The home is a stone's throw away from the town center and clearly has made an impact in the Lexington community. I always recognize faces from this community, and at the party it was interesting to observe the six degrees of separation. It is becoming hard to remember the connections, but this is a good thing because it means the community is growing and thriving. For example, I met a woman at the party named Barbara. I remember seeing her at our LABBB graduation last year, and she said that she knew my sister because her daughter works at the group home where my sister lives. She then proceeded to tell me that her daughter lives in Acton, near me. She is an energetic and positive person, and I really enjoyed speaking with her. After we finished talking, I thought to myself, What was she doing at the LABBB graduation? It didn't matter. I didn't try and figure it out. All I know is that she is part of our community, and I will run into her somewhere else, I'm sure.
For parents thinking about their children's lives after graduation, there are wonderful opportunities available. You do not need to be from a specific town for your son or daughter to access these opportunities. For example, there is a person from Wellesley who attended LABBB who lives with my sister, and I know of many other group homes where the residents are from many different towns.
It certainly helps being involved in building the community during and after your son or daughter has graduated to benefit from the opportunities that are available to you and future graduates.  Many parents of former students contribute to the community by giving back and helping. You can get to know these parents if you want. When you say you have a child at LABBB, you will be instantaneously connected. The connections will pay dividends even after your son or daughter has graduated.
Not only do I enjoy maintaining these relationships with parents, I enjoy hearing them still ask how we are doing at LABBB.
We are constantly reminded of the state's inability to fund our adult agencies and how monies are being depleted. There is some truth to this, but we need to access and look at the opportunities we do have, because there are plenty of them. Let's think about the positive outcomes that can occur. Your community is your best resource and opportunity for making this happen! There are many other group homes where you will see the same exciting outcomes. I speak to these parents, and I hear the successful stories. 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Bedford Wicked Local News

Local LABBB students with autism find passion through extracurricular activities 

By  Joy Richard

Posted Dec. 3, 2015 at 2:01 AM 
What is one of the main things many teens want when in middle school or the throes of high school?
To be one of the crowd, and for children and teens living with autism that desire is no different. That is where recreation programs like the ones LABBB (Lexington, Arlington, Burlington, Bedford, Belmont) Educational Collaborative offer come into play.  
To read Bedford Wicked local full article click here

Unified Theater Troupe
By: Patricia Costa

 Come join the 2015-2016 LABBB Unified Theater Troupe 

Start date: Thursday, January 7 Time: 3:30pm-5:00pm
Location: Bedford High School

Wanted! Singers, Actors and Dancers

Dear Parents and Participants,

Welcome to LABBB Unified Theater. I am so excited to get our theater group up and running again.  Interested, creative students should  come join  up on Thursday, January 7th . This program will meet every Thursday after school until the end of the school year with a final performance to follow at the end of June at  Bedford High School auditorium . Transportation will be provided to Bedford High on Thursdays for those who are interested

If you are interested in making the commitment, please RSVP by Thursday, December 17  by sending me an  email at

This program is a great opportunity for each student to find out what makes them SHINE! It is an inclusive experience where students  have fun displaying their abilities in the spotlight!

Unified Theater is a nation-wide not-for-profit organization that has worked with thousands of students from coast to coast.  Unified Theater empowers youth to lead by letting the students take charge of their performing art experience.  UT lets diversity and creativity RULE!!!  If you want to learn more about UT's philosophy, please feel free to visit their website at

Our goal at LABBB is to continue to foster creativity, diversity and independence through the performing arts. Last year's production of "A Teenage Life" proved to be a great success for our students and the LABBB community, so let's get creative and do it again!

Hope to see you all there!
Ms. Costa
Staff Advisor       
The "Core 40"
By: Stephen Goodwin

It might not show yet, but the students and staff at LABBB Arlington High School have been working their "Core".  The "Core 40" that is.  Back on October 29th, LABBB conducted a sublime Full Day Professional Day for the LABBB staff.  Several LABBB AHS staffers attended Karen Waddill's "Teaching Literacy to Students with Severe Disabilities" workshop. Karen, a veteran Speech and Language pathologist, is also the Director of Cotting Consulting as well as an Assistive Tech Professional. Karen kicked off the day by sharing research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill regarding the "Core 40" (i.e., the forty words most commonly spoken and written in the English language).   By the end of the workshop, several of us left with a plethora of ideas for instructional activities (e.g., 1:1 vocabulary matching, "Core 40" Bingo, Tic-Tac-Toe, et al.)  that would allow our students to read, identify and/or sign the "Core 40". 
Over the years, many of us have attended workshops that could be deemed "drive-by professional development" (i.e., professional development that does not impact the actual instruction within the classroom).  Karen's presentation was exactly the opposite.  Many thanks to Karen and the LABBB staff for helping our students work on their "Core". 
Finally, the "Core 40" words are: 
me, make, get, look, I, like, not, want, help, it, more, different, what, need, are, is, where, up, on, in, some, put, all, this, who, she, you, he, when, can, finished, here, open, turn, stop, over, don't, that, go, do.  

Thanksgiving in Ms. Brown's Class
By: Caroline Brown
The students of LABBB Chenery 233, Ms. Brown's class, recently celebrated Thanksgiving a little early by preparing their own feast! The students participate in a weekly cooking group, co-run by Kimberly Roberts (speech and language pathologist) and Lori Parent (occupational therapist).  On Tuesday, November 24, the students prepared a modified Thanksgiving dinner during their regularly scheduled cooking group.

Each week, cooking group consists of grocery shopping, meal prep, setting up, and cleaning up. Ms. Roberts and Ms. Parent take three students grocery shopping each week, on a rotating basis. The shoppers must use their grocery list to locate and retrieve items within the store, then pay for the ingredients. Included in this portion of the group is a number of skills. Students must be able to navigate the store and practice locating items within a specific department. Students must also respond to greetings from the cashier, and practice their money skills by using the classroom wallet to pay for the items. Once the shoppers bring the items to the kitchen, they must prepare the meal. A variety of tasks are assigned, ranging from stirring the drink mix to finely chopping vegetables. The menu varies weekly, and the tasks that are required depend on the menu choice. While those three students are preparing the meal, their classmates are hard at work setting up the tables and chairs, setting the table with placemats, plates, cups, forks, knives, and napkins.

For the Thanksgiving feast, the students prepared chicken nuggets with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, peas, and cranberry sauce. As a special treat, classroom assistant, Mrs. Linda Bacci, brought in some of her delicious pumpkin pie! Students typically bake cookies or brownies for dessert, but it was decided that the cooks had enough work to do!

While the students all loved this experience, there was more to it than fun and feasting. Each student had a number of responsibilities to fulfill and teamwork is absolutely necessary. The experience is designed for students to practice their skills outside the classroom.

As is typical for school-aged students around late November, this particular group of students had been spending a lot of time in the classroom learning about the first Thanksgiving, and also exploring the spirit of the season. The students were able to compare their feast to what was consumed at the first Thanksgiving. They also made comparisons regarding the length of the feast, who was there, and how they were able to prepare the food. Additionally, one student had the wonderfully kind idea of having each person say one thing they were thankful for before beginning their meal. Answers ranged from parents, to pets, to friends, to Mrs. Bacci's pumpkin pie!

Kim's A.P.E Class - Chenery Middle School
By: Tom Brincklow
The kids in Kim Applemans' room have been participating in an obstacle course during November A.P.E classes. The obstacle course is fast paced with all kinds of obstacles. Students went through, over and under obstacles.  They also hopped through hula hoops, pushed the big soccer ball into a net and kicked a regular size soccer ball into a net.  The students appeared to really enjoy this activity.

Clinical Corner - How to Help Students Understand their Disability
By: Lisa Gurdin
Many of our students struggle with accepting and understanding their disability and how it affects their lives. Research shows that students who can successfully create healthy self-awareness, understand how their disability impacts them, and learn to advocate for their needs will do much better long-term. Here are some suggestions for how to support our students in these efforts.

1.  Encourage your student to speak openly about their issues
It's important for your student to understand and talk about how their disability affects their daily life. This can help him/her become an effective self-advocate, speaking up for what he needs in a positive way. Try to have open conversations in which he/she can express how he feels. Rather than saying, "Your ADHD makes it hard for you to pay attention," consider asking him/her questions like, "Where do you see your ADHD getting in your way? Can I tell you what I see?" (Morin, 2015)

2.  Point out the Positives
Tweens and teens with disabilities can be quick to criticize themselves. But self-awareness means recognizing positives as well as negatives. Try to correct your student's misconceptions. Humor can help redirect his way of thinking. For example, "You think kids don't like you? There are always kids hanging out here playing video games with you. I don't think it's my sparkling personality they're here for. That's all you!"  (Morin, 2015)

3.  Strike a Healthy Balance
Finding a balance between helping your adolescent gain self-awareness and making him self-conscious can be tricky. Try not to make learning and attention issues the focus of every conversation. And remind your student that there are things he does well that have nothing to do with his issues. For example, "Sure, reading and writing are tough for you. You're also a great baseball pitcher, and your dyslexia doesn't affect that at all." (Morin, 2015)

4.  Discourage Comparisons
It's hard for kids to be aware of their own abilities when they view them in the light of other people's performance. Help your student resist comparing himself to friends or siblings. You might start a conversation like this: "You know, I hear you saying you're not as talented in music as your sister is in art. But that's apples and oranges. Those are two different things and you're two different people. It doesn't seem like a reasonable comparison." (Morin, 2015)

5.  Consider Outside Professional Support
If your student struggles with school, he may be at higher risk for emotional challenges and a negative self-image. And it may be difficult for you to help, since your student may think that, as his parent/guardian you have to say nice things about him. Sometimes tweens and teens do better with someone who's not as close to them. That's why it can be a good idea to call in an outside professional, like a therapist, to help your student develop self-awareness.  (Morin, 2015)

6.  Encourage your student to become part of their IEP Team
At LABBB, once a student reaches age 14, they become an active participant in their annual IEP meetings.  Taking more responsibility for himself can help empower your student - and increase his awareness of himself, too.  It may be helpful for you to ask your student about feedback on goals, vision, etc...  (Morin, 2015)

7.  Encourage your student to become more independent
Becoming more independent is part of being self-aware. Most teens crave independence. If you don't give your student safe, appropriate ways to exercise it at home, there's a chance he could rebel or take dangerous risks. Doing things like cooking for himself, getting himself ready for school on time and sticking to house rules (like returning home at dinner time when playing in the yard) are important ways your student can become more independent-safely. Many parents start giving their children some of these tasks in middle school and expand them in high school. (Morin, 2015)
As always, LABBB professionals can provide further assistance as to how to put these suggestions into practice. 
Community Connections
By: Amanda O'Leary
 This fall, the vocational counselors have been pounding the pavement to make connections in the community! We have some exciting news!
We made two new wonderful connections! One new connection is with a non-profit organization called Cradles to Crayons, based in Brighton. Cradles to Crayons is an amazing organization. Their vision is that one day, every child will have the essentials they need to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued. Through the Giving Factory, Cradles to Crayons provides essentials, such as donated clothes, shoes, books, and school supplies to children who are homeless or living in low-income situations. Cradles to Crayons also offers meaningful volunteer opportunities to hundreds of corporations and thousands of individuals and families each year.
Some students from LABBB went to Cradles to Crayons a few times to give it a try, and so far, both students and staff have really enjoyed the experience. The tasks that the students have participated in include sorting clothing by gender and size, folding clothing, and packaging clothing. Other tasks in which LABBB students may participate could be sorting books by age level and checking toys for damage. This volunteer opportunity, in addition to other skill development, allows our students to increase their social skills, independent living skills, sorting, and organizational skills. LABBB is looking forward to strengthening this partnership.
LABBB has also started a relationship with Cambridge Trust Company. Starting this month, a small group of students will be traveling to Cambridge Trust locations in Weston, Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington. Students will be responsible for washing windows, both inside and out. Through this work experience, students will hone their independent work skills, executive functioning skills, social skills in a business environment, as well as their ability to assess the quality of their work.

The vocational counselors continue to work hard at strengthening LABBB's community connections so that our students have ample opportunity to explore a variety of work environments that allow them to develop vocational and functional life skills while being a contributing member of the community. 

If you have ideas of places that would like to partner with LABBB to provide these types of experiences, please feel free to contact Amanda O'Leary at

A Christmas Carol - Sensory Friendly Performance at AHS
By: Skip Avery & Stephen Goodwin
  The Arlington High School Drama guild will be presenting a sensory friendly performance of A Christmas Carol on Saturday, December 19 at 11:00 AM. Sensory friendly performances have been a recent step forward in inclusion in theatre with high profile performances of The Lion King and Mary Poppins
Designed to meet the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum, and/or individuals with sensory processing or other cognitive challenges, this performance features modified sound, lighting and other adjustments. Audience members are invited to make sounds, enter and exit as needed during the performance and enjoy this holiday tradition with their family and community.
Tickets will be available at the door. This is also a pay what you'd like performance. Donations are welcome, but not necessary.
1 hour, 45 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.
We understand that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders have unique and varying sensory issues. Sensory accommodations are balanced with preserving the genuine experience desired by all children and families.
Sensory Friendly Performance Accommodations: Not all aspects of the show may be modified due to their relevance to the story, the show's artistic integrity, or production constraints. House lights will stay dimly on for the entire show. There will be modifications to lighting, sound, and the performance. We have cut out the use of strobe lighting.
Please be advised: Intermission can be challenging for audiences. Everyone is welcome to take a break during intermission and leave the theatre, or to remain in their seats to avoid the added transition. We will have a sing-a-long of Christmas Carols during intermission. Feel free to join us in singing or to stretch your legs.
A few potential triggers to prepare for in the show include: Ebenezer Scrooge starts the story as someone who is often angry and not nice to people.
Expect: This adaptation of A Christmas Carol has music, dancing and humor-but it also has arguing. Scrooge begins as an angry man and journeys through some scary situations. Many of the conflicts explored in the story are resolved; relationships are rebuilt or repaired. Scrooge is loved and learns to accept this love, it just takes some time.
Potentially anxious scenes include: A Christmas Carol features an angry man and also features a family who is concerned about a sick child. A Christmas Carol emphasizes the value and bonds of love and family. The show celebrates sharing of yourself and treating even difficult people with love because maybe they just need to see what love looks like in order to find it in their heart.
Suggested Conversation Starters (before the show): A play is make believe. What you see on stage is not real, and no one gets hurt. It's different from a movie.
Getting Ready:
  • Coming to the theatre can be a special occasion, or a casual family outing, but it's always fun. Some audience members dress up, some do not--it's your choice.
  • What can we bring? Children can bring comfort toys as needed, as long as their toys also sit quietly during the show. You can bring a camera and take photos in our lobbies, but not inside the theatre. Electronic devices must be turned off in the theatre.
  • There are no bathrooms in the main lobby. You'll need to go to further into the theatre to access restrooms.
Before the Show:
  • People gather in the lobby
  • Ushers can answer any questions you may have.
  • The actors will be in the audience when you enter the theatre. They will be in costumes and you are welcome to talk to them and ask them questions about the performance.
  • There is a wheelchair accessible restroom behind the auditorium. The rest of the bathrooms are accessible on the lower floor
Entering the Theatre
  • When you are ready to go into the theatre, ushers will take your tickets and direct you towards the seating section.
  • Ushers will tear tickets at the entrance, and direct you to the appropriate door to find your seats.
  • Accessible seating is located in the front row.
  • Ushers will hand out programs at the door.
  • Time to turn off electronic devices. Remember no photography, texting, or phone usage in the theatres.
Need a Break?
  • INTERMISSION: We will have a fifteen minute intermission between Act 1 and Act 2. Many people leave the theatre to use the restrooms or just take the opportunity to walk and talk during intermission.
  • The crowd can move slowly, and there may be lines.
  • You do not have to leave your seats if you don't need or want to.
  • The House Manager will make announcements during intermission to let people know how much time they have left to find their seats again before Act 2.
If anyone needs a break before intermission or has trouble sitting quietly, there are 2 options:
  • THE QUIET ROOM: The Quiet room is for anyone who needs a break before intermission. The Quiet Room is across the lobby from the theatre. Everyone is welcome in the Quiet Room, including people with special needs and infants.
  • EXTRA HELP: Ushers can help with transitions between areas during the show.
After the Show:
  • The cast always returns for a Curtain Call. Prepare for applause!
  • When it's time to leave the theatre, the crowd can move slowly and there may be lines. If you need to wait for the crowd to thin, you can wait in your seats for a few minutes.
  • The restrooms remain open after the show for approximately half an hour. You are welcome to sit in our lobby and talk about the show during this time.

Mindfulness, Movement & Music Classes
By: Patricia Costa
"What better way to start the New Year than in a mindful way!  

Trish Costa and Danielle McMahon, in affiliation with Maura Lynch of Torch Light Music School ( ) in Arlington Mass, will be offering a "MINDFULNESS, MOVEMENT, & MUSIC" program in the Torch Light studio. This 8-week program, held afternoons from 3:30 to 4:30 beginning on Friday January 22, will offer training in guided meditations, mindfulness and focus, guided movement and singing, and vocal production training.  

The class will produce a professionally recorded CD of a song that they have prepared and practiced throughout the session.  The class will be held at the Torch Light Music School in Arlington.  Tuition for the class is $250 which includes the final CD.  

Please feel free to contact Maura Lynch at  781.641.1811  (
Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
This month we have the LABBB Basketball teams getting ready for their season. We had  34 LABBB High School students sign up.  We added a third team because we had so many students that wanted to play. We are happy to see so many enthusiastic students ready to play for the LABBB Basketball team!

See below for the Basketball Team schedules. We are still working on adding more games for the C team.
A Team Schedule
Thursday, 12/3 @ Brandon School.  No spectator's 11:00AM
Thursday, 12/10 @ Woburn Boys and Girls Club vs. Campus, 10:30AM
Thursday, 12/17 @ Lexington Fieldhouse vs. Seaport 11:45AM (need bag lunch)
Thursday, 1/21 @ Woburn Boys and Girls Club vs. Campus, 10:30AM
Thursday, 1/28 @ Woburn Boys and Girls Club vs. SEEM Prep, 10:30AM
Thursday, 2/4 @ Woburn Boys and Girls Club vs. SEEM, 10:30AM
Thursday, 2/11 @ Lighthouse School, No spectators, 11:30AM
Thursday, 2/25 @ Woburn Boys & Girls Club vs. SEEP Prep, 10:30AM
Thursday, 3/3 @ Lighthouse School, No Spectators, 11:30AM
Thursday, 3/10 @ Lexington Fieldhouse vs. SEEM
B Team Schedule
Saturday, Dec. 19 @ Cotting School, 10:00AM 
Saturday, Jan. 16 @ Cotting School, 10:00AM
Thursday, Jan. 7 @ LHS fieldhouse vs. C team 11:30AM
Friday, Jan. 29 @ Cotting School, 7:00PM
Saturday, Feb. 13 @ Cotting School, 10:00AM
Thursday, Feb. 25 @ Lexington Fieldhouse, 11:30AM
C Team Schedule
Thurs. Jan. 7 @ Lexington field house vs. the LABBB B team at 11:30.
Working on more games.
We have an upcoming trip in January. We will be going to a Boston Celtics game with our High School students and their Best Buddies on Friday January 15 th .  Please sign up asap when the flyer comes to your home.
Happy Holiday's and Happy New Year from @LABBBREC

Recreation links:

Reach 4 Real delivers adaptive music and theater classes designed specifically for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The goal of Reach 4 Real is to enhance the life experience of students with needs through music enrichment.  Students will collaborate to write songs in a pop/musical theater style, and then stage, choreograph, and deliver an exciting live performance for friends, family, and the general public. Other aspects of the class include physical and vocal warm-ups, theater games, and cool downs celebrating successes of the day. All curriculum is adaptable for non-verbal students; including those that use iPad communication devices.  

Classes will be offered at The Real School of Music Burlington at 56 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA on Wednesdays starting on January 6 - April 27 from 5:00 - 6:00 pm (Elementary - Jr. High) and 6:00 - 7:00 pm (high school - adult).

To Register, please call the front desk at  (781) 328-0530, or register online at First class is always complimentary to new students! 

Questions? Please contact Program Director Kelly Surette at  


If you have new ideas to offer, please email them to We are always looking for new ideas and opportunities our students will enjoy!
Parent Resources and Events
School Cancellation:  All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.


The next LABBB PAC meeting is:

When:   December 18, 2015 
Where:  The Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road
Time:     6:45 pm to 8:30 pm

Topic:  Understanding Language in Children with Autism

We welcome Helen Tager-Flusberg from Boston University. 
Helen is a professor at Boston University. She works in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. She is also the Director of the Center for Autism Research Excellence.

Helen will be reviewing what is known and unknown about why language is impaired in children with autism, and especially why about 25-30% never acquire spoken language. She will then summarize BU's research project that is now investigating these questions, including their brain studies and intervention study.  She is also very interested in answering questions parents might have. If time allows, she will present a couple of their studies' preliminary findings.

Communication and Contacts Links
About Us
LABBB Collaborative Central Office
36 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730
(339) 222-5615