December 2018

          A LABBB Collaborative        Newsletter
   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities         for  students with special needs 
LABBB Best Buddies at the Craft Fair  
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Our Woodland House Backyard
Who Is in My Community? 
I need a community to help me care for my sister . I didn't realize how important this community would be until I had it . Let me tell you who is in it and how they give me the support I need. Your community could look the same or different in the future. 
First, I feel the strongest connection to the parents of my sister's group home. We are like a family. We all have one purpose: to make the group home the best place it can be for the adults and staff living there. These parents help drive my sister places if needed, and they are the first people I call if I have a question about an issue I am dealing with-whether it is my sister's CPAP machine, work, or finances.
We just had the group home holiday party this past weekend, and it was such a warm environment, with many families bringing granddaughters, grandsons, aunts, and uncles. This year Graham, one of the adults in the group home,  played the piano for all of us, and I can't tell you how amazing and emotional it was.
At our monthly meetings, we all share our stories-both happy and sad. A few months ago, Jill's husband passed away from Parkinson's disease. He passed away on a Tuesday, and we had a house meeting the next evening. I was surprised and happy to see Jill there, but then I realized that she wanted to be around people she felt comfortable with. The other parents of the group home residents are people who have been part of her life for so long and will be in the future.
Second, the people in the Lexington Center community are extremely important to me. They are the eyes and ears of the group home, and they watch over the residents. The group home members walk in the community to get coffee every afternoon around 4:00 p.m., and most people know who they are. I have met many people in Lexington who say to me, "I know your sister." I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. The people in your community want to help, and building roots should not be underrated. For example, I don't have to worry about my sister's medications all the time. The people in the pharmacy know exactly what she needs, and they will automatically call in for refills, give her extra medications to hold her over until her refills are approved, and spend time making sure the details of her medication are all taken care of.
Third, Belmont Sport is an amazing source of support. My sister has been part of this community for over 30 years, along with many LABBB  students and graduates. Heidi Barberio, the director, e-mails me if she thinks my sister might be interested in an activity. The staff stay with her if there is a glitch in transportation. When my parents passed away, Heidi spent time with my sister on an overnight trip, as Heidi was also going through a loss in her family. When my sister attends the overnight for the Special Olympics, I know she is going to be taken care of. Belmont Sport has been part of LABBB for many years, and it is a huge support. 
Fourth, my sister's new doctor is amazing. I have never before seen a physician who is so responsive. Most of our family members now use her as their primary physician. I feel I could invite her for Thanksgiving and everyone would just assume she is part of the family. 
There  are parents whose child graduated from LABBB with whom I still stay in touch. Of course, Donna Leigh is part of my community. We share stories all the time. I have known her since I was 15 years old. We still chat all the time about what is going on in Steven and Michele's life. 
When I meet with our alumni parents, it is hard to believe that they are not in LABBB anymore, but then I remember that we are meeting right here, right now, so they are still a part of LABBB. We are now creating activities for LABBB alumni, making sure that they are still socially connected and learning from one another. This group will tell you that the biggest missing element when students leave LABBB is social connections. One of the parents gave this analogy at our last meeting: "When we were in LABBB, it was like being on one of those huge cruise ships. It was all-inclusive. When we left LABBB, it was like being on a sailboat. You now have to navigate everything on your own." We are trying to do something to change this for students who are enrolled in LABBB right now. If our current alumni group reflects what the group will be like in the future, you will see great things happening. 
Creating community in your life begins now. When parents share their stories, struggles, and successes, others feel that they are not alone. My job is about creating connections, bringing people together. I hope to find more houses like our Woodland Respite House and allow both current LABBB students and graduates to use them as a vehicle for community and independence. 
Have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year! 

Rough Night, Relived Again and Again
By Linda Couturier, LABBB Parent
It's 4:00 am. You're the mother of a medically fragile, chronically ill child. It is your 9th consecutive morning in the hospital with him. The days are long. But the nights are the hardest, filled with only the sight of your sick child and your fears. This particular night is unending. His blood pressures are low. The nurse's assistant comes in to take it. You're lying just feet away listening to the rough crinkling of the velcro cuff , and then the buzzing of it, tightening. End. Repeat. Again and again. You ask the nurse's assistant what it is now.
"84/40. I'm going to let nurse know."

The same assistant soon returns to take it manually. It's even lower and now Christos is getting irritated. Then the nurse comes in to take it again. 91/40.
We have been dealing with low pressures since his admission 9 days ago, which was due to a bacterial infection in his urinary tract. On steroids. Off steroids. Then back on again. Bolus after bolus of liters of IV fluid. Scans, blood work, adrenal gland tests due to his already adrenal insufficiency. Still no answer on why the pressures are so low.

I lie here on my makeshift window-sill-bed feeling the draft from the cold November night, listening to the rain pelt the outside world and those helicopters. 
Those helicopters, that I know, are bringing in even  sicker children. Like my friend's daughter who has been in ICU for the last 3 weeks. I wonder if on her floor, those helicopters are keeping her awake too.

We all know the feeling, the feeling of being the mother of a medically fragile, chronically ill child. Those endless nights controlled by worry over the uncertainty of what the morning will bring. The only sliver of comfort that we all know for sure, is when you are in the hall to go get that coffee or to just  get out of the room for a few moments, we will see another mom, that mom who knows. You have never m et, but you share a painful and rare bond. Like the mom you meet in the laundry room. She lives in a different state. You talk about why you're both there. You share the same fears, harbor the same terrifying questions, listen to the same chorus of those damn helicopters. And because of this, you feel a little less alone. You don't even need to utter a word, she gets the look in your weary eyes. It's like a club of sorts. A club that you really don't want to be in, but knowing that there are other members makes the cruel nights just a little bit kinder.
Making Empanadas at Ottoson
By: Peggy Sheehan
Ms. Sheehan's class at Ottoson recently completed a great cooking activity...making empanadas.   Cooking activities give us a chance to practice lots of skills.   The students practice community skills at the grocery story (using a shopping list, waiting in line, paying for groceries); imitations--doing the same thing the teacher does as we make the empanadas; sequencing skills to follow the steps of the recipe; and fine motor skills to use the kitchen tools. It's also a good opportunity to learn vocabulary we use in the kitchen. And, of course, everyone has to practice waiting until it's finally time to eat!

Clinical Corner: Health and the Holidays
By: Sean Waldron, LCSW/Adjustment Counselor
It's that wonderful time of year again, no matter what holiday you celebrate, this time of year causes more stress than any other time of year. Stress is defined as your body or mind's reaction to perceived danger, whether from internal or external stressors. External stress comes from outside us, internal stress comes from within us and determines our body's ability to respond to external stressors.
Stress can be acute, such as being in a car accident or shopping for the holidays. Stress can also be chronic such as you are a caregiver to a loved one with a physical and or mental disability.

During the holidays, we tend to over overexert ourselves. With many activities to do, such as: shopping, decorating, cooking, and family gatherings. Also important to note is that eating habits usually become an afterthought during this time of year.

With all this in mind, here is a a list of ways to restore and energize yourself after the holidays:
  • Get 7-8 hours of restorative sleep (easier said than done I understand but important to try and do nonetheless).
  • Avoid consuming sugar, caffeine, and any form of alcohol.
  • Take time for yourself! Find activities that you enjoy and are relaxing.
  • Get outside for at least 15 minutes each day to get some sun, even on overcast days.
  • Learn some relaxation breathing techniques to help reduce your stress and help lower your heartbeats.
  • Do something kind for someone else, it can make you feel good helping others. Studies have shown that doing good decreases stress and increases happiness.
Enjoy your holidays!

Burlington High School Spirit Pep Rally
By: Carol Chaisson
The day before Thanksgiving Burlington High School puts on an awesome spirit rally. The rally is an energetic, fun filled way to support the Burlington High Red Devil football team for their big Thanksgiving Day game against the Lexington High Minutemen.

Burlington High students wore fun colors to represent their classes and they had fun activities/games for a friendly competition. The amazing band played, color guard performed, the hip-hop dance team, drumline/trombone line, the school dance team and the award winning cheerleaders also was excellent! All of our students enjoyed themselves and cheered alongside their peers.

  **UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Minutemen of Lexington beat the Red Devils of Burlington 40-27
LABBB-TILL Woodland Guest House Information for 2019
Our First LABBB Alumni Respite Weekend
Dear Colleagues and Families:

We would like to share with you a unique social learning opportunity that may be of interest to your older students with learning differences.  Located in a cozy four-bedroom cape-style home in Lexington, TILL's Woodland Guest House offers adults (18+) with learning differences, developmental disabilities, or autism functional learning opportunities through fun activities with support and guidance from trained, experienced staff.  Weekend guests enjoy exploring new interests, practicing independent living skills, and developing social skills and create friendships through fun activities.

Toward Independent Living and Learning, Inc. (TILL) is a not-for-profit human service agency established in 1980, providing a wide range of residential, vocational and clinical supports to individuals and families. 

We hope that you can share this information with students or family members who you feel would benefit from this type of social learning and growth.  Enclosed are both a Welcome Packet and schedule of available dates for the 1st quarter of 2019.  To make it easier to share by email, these attachments are available online at: Woodland Guest House 2019 Information. 

If you have any questions about TILL's Woodland Guest House, or any other TILL programs or services, please contact us for more information: 781-302-4600 or
We realize we are up against the holiday vacation week so we will send again in January.
Thank you for your help.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday!
Linda Norton
Director of Marketing and Communication
TILL, Inc.
20 Eastbrook Road, Suite 201
Dedham, MA 02026-2056
Vocabulary Day
By: Jessica Stuart
At the Butler Elementary School, our students participated in Vocabulary Day. They marched with their inclusion classrooms and had so much fun!  When their march was complete, they enjoyed watching the other classrooms march in the parade. 

Vocabulary Day is based off the book Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster 
Written by: Debra Frasier

Recreation News and Events
By:  Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
LABBB would like to thank every LABBB family and staff that helped out, made items, had a table, or came and shopped at our LABBB/Best Buddies Craft Fair.  The fair was a success because of your support. We hope everyone had a great time and plans on returning next year. Please see photos below.

This month, the LABBB Basketball teams are getting ready for their season.  
We have 28 students on three teams.  
  • December 6 is our first game for our A Team vs Orchard St. Academy at Lexington High School at 11:00.
  • December 13 is the first game for our B Team vs Campus Academy at Lexington High School at 11:00.
  • December 8 is the first game for our C Team at 10:00 vs Cotting at Cotting.
Good luck to the 2018/2019 teams.  
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from @LABBBREC


A LABBB Podcast

For the past 9 years, Susan has been an adjunct faculty for an online section of Developmental Disabilities in the Psychology and Education Department at Middlesex Community College. A significant part of her work has included providing professional development and training to college faculty to promote and support their use of teaching strategies and approaches using principles of universal design for instruction. The goal of this work is to create and support inclusive pedagogies and create a welcoming environment to support the success of diverse learners. 

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