July 2017

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

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

Troy Barrett, Student Keynote Speaker, at our 2017 High School Graduation

In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
The Positive Side of a Panic Attack? Behind the Music With Christian Rojas

Please read this before you watch the video on the left. 

It's Friday morning, June 16, and we just had our high school graduation last evening. Before I leave for work, my wife asks me how the ceremony was. I tell her about Christian Rojas and I put my Macbook in front of her and say, check this video out. I walk away to get my my coffee, not paying attention to her viewing it. After a few minutes, I look over and she is crying. I say, "What's wrong?" She says, "That was absolutely amazing," as she is replaying it! I didn't realize the impact this video would have!

Behind The Video Story

We always play live music at our high school graduation ceremony, it is now a LABBB Tribe tradition. The ceremony is held at the Scottish Rite Museum in Lexington and there isn't anyone that walks out that doesn't say this was one of the best graduation ceremonies they have been too. I can't begin to tell you all the positive comments we receive from parents and district people who attend. We want to make this a special event; we want this graduation to be a memorable send off for our graduates, their families, and friends; we want them to remember LABBB. As a parent commented a few years ago, "All I wanted was was for my son to graduate with dignity, and this graduation exceeded my expectations." 

This year the graduation band included: Trish Costa, Vocals; Peter Asklund, Keyboards and Drums; Andrew Oltsch, Bass; Christian Rojas, Drums, and me on guitar. Last year, Joel Moulton played bass and we look forward to other staff joining us in the future. 

When we moved the graduation to the museum, we were looking to do something new. First, we wanted to add a slideshow with all the graduates. Then we thought, instead of just adding music to the slideshow, let's play live music. We felt it would be more personal and engaging. The first year we did this, we had over 50 graduates and the auditorium was packed. The first song we did with the slideshow was 'The Climb' by Miley Cyrus. As Trish and I started to play, it was unbelievable. It was so loud we could barely hear ourselves playing. It went over very well and we said, "We need to keep doing this!" Over the years, we added more musicians and more songs to the ceremony.

Planning for the 2017 graduation, we thought, how cool would it be if we had a student play with us? We decided to have Christian Rojas play drums with us on one of the three songs we are going to perform. Christian can play the drums very well. We practiced with him a few times before the ceremony. His mother was just beaming with emotion, but she was a bit nervous about it.  

4:00pm Band Rehearsal

It is the evening of graduation and rehearsal begins at 4:00pm. Christian is not there. We try getting in touch with mom, but we are not having any luck. About 5:00pm, Peter Asklund connects with mom. Christian is having a panic attack at home and Peter offers to help anyway he can. During the day, he was expressing his nervousness about the height of the stage. She is doing the best she can to try to calm him and get him to the museum. It is now 5:30pm and graduation begins at 6:30pm and he is still not there. The band talks about the possibility of playing without a drummer and we are about to rehearse the song without him. Unfortunately, we do not have any other choice; we were just starting to accept the fact he would not be able to perform. 

Right before we do this, Christian arrives! We are excited, he made it. I was told, as he was entering the lobby, he started taking his pants off! Fortunately, he had long shorts on underneath. Mom says, "he will be fine, this is how I got him to come, he feels more comfortable in them." He enters the auditorium and looks like a deer in headlights and we rush him up on the stage to go through the song. We are a bit concerned that when he sees the museum filled with people, and the lights and flashes going off, that he might have another panic attack.


The band is backstage with Christian waiting to go on. David Dooks (LABBB Teacher) leads the graduates in with his Minuteman fife and drum corp. Now pomp and circumstance is playing and the Minuteman guards take their place on the stage. It is loud and Christian is hearing all of this and is pacing back and forth. We are trying to keep him relaxed, joking around, slapping high fives, trying to divert his attention. I say to him that we are going to introduce him before we start the song and I ask him to stand up and cross his sticks above his head like John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. He is half paying attention to me and I am thinking he missed all of my instructions. 

Ready to Rock'n Roll, We Are Live!

The band looks at each other and smiles as we are walking to the stage; in our heads, we all realize that there is a possibility that something may go wrong, but that is o.k., this is all worth it. Peter Asklund escorts Christian out to his drums. He then puts his phone in video mode on a music stand next to Christian and walks to his keyboards. His keyboards are facing Christian so he can make eye contact with him. They play music together quite a bit and he knows how to work with Christian. Peter has taught him well, Christian knows the song, but Peter yells short reminders to him just before he needs to transition to a new part of the song or for one more go around. 

Little did we know what Peter captured on his phone would become an incredibly inspiring video. This video was a great moment of Christian up close. You see him transform before your eyes and you see us watching him. As the song progresses, we are all smiles, realizing he is actually going to make it through the song. When Peter yells, "YA!" this is comforting to Christian, and you will see him smile when he does this.

This video had 2,500 views in just two days on Peter's Facebook page. Many people who have seen it have commented and said how they have cried or their eyes have welled up with tears.

There are other videos of the ceremony that are taken from the audience view, and have better audio, but this particular one is incredible for so many reasons. Christian's smile will just make you feel so good inside, it brings out an emotion that is hard to describe. Here is this student with special needs who has a passion for music, and you feel like you are right there with him. Christian confronted and overcame a fear, and here he is doing something he loves in front of a auditorium full of people. 

The only part that this video does not capture is Christian running to the front of the stage to take his bow! 
Coding with Mrs. Dickson's Class
By: Becky Dickson
Have you ever wondered how websites work, or how someone created your favorite app?  It was through the process of coding. Coding is using a computer language to create websites, games, and even this newsletter! This year, Mrs. Dickson's class utilized the program "Code Combat" in our technology class. The students learned through different websites how to use different types of code to create games and webpages.  

The Code Combat  program taught us how to read the Python coding language and how to utilize the language during different game levels. Each level had a different problem to solve, a goal to complete, and required us to build on our knowledge of the Python language. We learned that it is very important to have the right syntax in each line of our code, otherwise, the code will not work. Everyone enjoyed playing the different levels and we collaborated in order to ensure understanding of the steps needed to accurately solve each puzzle.  By the end of the school year, several students had made games that we could play! During July, we began to utilize our understanding of Python to start a web-site.

Clinical Corner: Welcome Kaitlin and Kristine
By: Donna Goodell
You may have noticed that every month this year, Lisa Gurdin, our Clinical Coordinator, wrote an article sharing ideas and strategies regarding social, emotional, and behavioral growth and development. These articles were always informative, and we were fortunate to have Lisa offering her insight and expertise to our readers.
This spring, Lisa decided to alter her work-life balance, which meant leaving her role at LABBB in favor of spending more time with her young family. While we will certainly miss Lisa and her contributions to our programs, we wish her and her family the very best. 

At the same time, we are excited to welcome Kaitlin Taylor as our new BCBA Department Head. Kaitlin has been a member of, and a huge asset to, our LABBB Clinical team (BCBAs, Social Workers, and Mental Health Counselors) for four years. In addition to providing direct support to four of our elementary programs, her knowledge and insight has been invaluable to the larger clinical team as well as programs throughout the Collaborative. Over her four years at LABBB, Kaitlin has naturally developed into a leader and is excited about this new opportunity to expand her role.


In addition to Kaitlin leading our BCBAs, we are also thrilled to have Kristine Lacey, one of our Program Coordinators, taking over the leadership role of our social work and mental health counseling team. Kristine began her career in education in the
Arlington Public Schools as a School Psychologist. She expanded her school psychologist role to include being a Special Education Team Chairperson while working in Tyn
gsboro. She then moved to the Winchester Public Schools where she led the district's clinical team and eventually assumed the role of Special Education Supervisor, working with students and staff at all grade levels. We are so fortunate to have Kristine at LABBB, sharing her skills and experience while lead ing b oth our clinicians and several of our high school programs.

We are very pleased that, together, Kaitlin and Kristine will lead our clinical team and continue our tradition of offering our readers information and ideas through the Clinical Corner column of our newsletter.
LABBB-Minuteman Career Directions
Extended Year Program Highlights 2017
By: Frank Jackson
The 18 days in July that make up the extended year part of our program at Career Directions is designed to incorporate the following ideas: transition, academics, functional life skills, mindfulness, camaraderie, and fun. 
Students participate in shopping and cooking once a week (see pictures of students/staff cooking omelets). They also do something physical everyday such as hikes, basketball, kickball, wall ball, lifting, etc. Academic classes are offered daily and topics like drivers education are included. Occupational Educational skills are a focus during the summer to help our students prepare for post-graduation transition, while community trips help prepare students for different life experiences. 
Students also participate in several field trips including:
1: Mall-Barnes and Noble: Scavenger Hunt-Life skills-Fun.
2: North Shore Community College: Transition Opportunities, Tour Campus, Fun.
3: Salem Witch Museum: Education/History, Fun.
4: Mount Wachusett: Hiking 3.1 mile trail, Mindfulness (relax, enjoy the beautiful view), Fun. 
5: Castle Island: Education/History, Walking, Mindfulness (relax, enjoy beautiful view), Fun. 

The LABBB Transition Team
By: Donna Goodell
This year, LABBB's Vocational Department has some exciting new opportunities for our students to learn and generalize transition skills in the areas of work, social, community, and independent living. Our Transition Counselors have worked hard at developing new community sites, as well as expanding the learning and skill building opportunities within our existing community partnerships.
In addition to the growth in our community experiences for students,  we are also growing our team of Transition Counselors. We are excited to be welcoming Tori Dennis to our LABBB Transition Team. Tori has been a teacher at LABBB Arlington High School for the last three years. Prior to that, she was a teacher of students with special needs in two different school districts, as well as spending one year in an adult service program. Tori is a wonderful addition to our Transition Counselor team!

As we expand our team, we are also thrilled to have a new leader for our Transition Team. Kristin Spinoza has been a Transition Counselor with LABBB this past year. She quickly demonstrated her knowledge of transition and her leadership skills as she worked with our Arlington High School students to help them develop and practice their transition skills out in the community and throughout the school environment. Kristin comes to LABBB with experience as both a teacher of students with special needs and transition specialist within two different school districts. We are fortunate to have her leading our team! 
Travel Training & Contemporary Art
By: Scott Procko
Summer is here and the time has come for the LABBB Transition Program students to combine and use the various skills they have been working on all year. That moment came during one of our summer trips to the ICA, Institute of Contemporary Art, in Boston. It may appear to be an average day at the transition program, but heading into Boston during the morning commute, rain showers in the forecast, and two transfers on the MBTA is quite an adventure! The students rose to the challenge and used their ability to be flexible in order to solve each problem as it came.  

Bus 74 to Harvard, Red Line to South Station, Silver Line to the World Trade Center, and a short walk to the ICA. We made it! It was time to view some contemporary art.

We began with works from the controversial street artist, Shepard Fairey, then viewed Nari Ward's collection exploring power and politics within society, watched Steve McQueen's first US debut of Ashes, relaxed in the cantilevered computer lab, and finished with lunch on the harbor. We saw many pieces of thought provoking art and sat on some as well. Thousands of colored shoe laces strung through the wall to form "We The People" prompted many questions. What was the artist saying? Perhaps, the constitution was designed to represent the people, who are now comprised of a vast array of cultures. Also, not as comfortable as it looked, but a fun way to view an art installation, students sat on a chair made of tires! Could this have been done on purpose? Did the artist want the viewer to be slightly uncomfortable? Feeling inspired by these and many other questions, we created an art installation of our own: the pose from the museum scene in the movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

LHS: Post High School Options
By: Michael Allen

During the month of July, students of room 821 of the Lexington High School Labbb Program are participating in 6 Field trips which focus on raising each students' understanding of possible outcomes for post high school success. Mr. Allen, Mr O'Connell, and Ms. Sullivan have taken their students to an admissions information session and walking tour of Framingham Sate University, Mass Bay Community College, North Shore Community College, and Porter & Chester Technical School to compare and contrast possible academic post high school options. 

We also attended a housing and budgeting workshop (Smart Tenant Workshop) at the Lowell Community Teamwork Office to familiarize students with the process and terminology used in the Independent Living options after high school.  Finally, we will be attending an Interviewing and Resume Writing Workshop conducted at the Career Place in Woburn during the last week in July.

A Visit from the Celtics!
By: Rachele Leonardo

Leon Powe, a former player for the Boston Celtics, came to visit the JGMS classroom in May! The students prepared for the visit by watching video clips of Mr. Powe's big game in 2008 and by brainstorming questions they could ask. Mr. Powe talked to the students about the importance of hard work and his experiences in life and the NBA.  He was very funny and had a good story for every question! After the Q&A, Mr. Powe signed photographs for the students (and for his fans who saw him in the hall when the bell rang) and then they headed out to the courts!  All the students got some coaching on their technique and Mr. Powe even dunked for them. At the end, the students presented Mr. Powe with a thank you card they had decorated and signed. Everyone had a ball!

Amplifi at Memorial Elementary School
By: Jeff Caritey
This spring, LABBB Memorial Elementary School, in collaboration with Amplifi (Adaptive Music Programs for Life), organized a Memorial Day concert. Students within the LABBB classrooms worked very hard to learn the words of an original song entitled "The Flag Song", as well as the adapted hand signs to accompany it. Students rehearsed several times to not only get comfortable with the performance, but to also become comfortable standing on stage, which was new experience for several of the students. 

This was truly a team effort as the Speech Therapist helped to program parts of the songs on some of the students' communication devices. Lisa Symonds, from Amplifi, has been providing adapted music classes in several of our LABBB classrooms throughout the year. Lisa brings a fun and energetic experience into our classrooms while collaborating with each teacher to make her lessons accessible for all.

This concert was a huge success that was enjoyed by the entire Memorial Elementary Community!

Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator

After many years, LABBB returned to Ireland in partnership with TILL. Since TILL's mission is to provide resources for individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities in leisure activities, it is, and will be, a great resource for our students. In addition to visiting Belfast, Dublin, Giant Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Titanic, we met the Lord Mayors of Belfast and New Castle. Additionally, we toured Queen
' s University & Trinity University, their museums, and Book of Kells. We also enjoyed a number of pubs and restaurants during our stay.
Ireland had a lot of rain that week, but we witnessed a double rainbow and some sun. All in all, it was a great week, as you can see in the photos. Please be on the lookout for the 2017/2018 Recreation Brochure which will be mailed to your homes in August.


Recreation Updates

The LABBB Recreation Department would like to thank Todd Paris for working with us to create three sessions of the Lucky Punch Boxing at LABBB.  We started out with one session and found it so popular that we added two more sessions.  The third session just ended at the end of April. We are bringing Todd back in September for another ten week session. 

LABBB Reunion Dance, September 22, 2017.  Look for invitations to come out in August. 

Tuesday and Thursday Bowling groups have started again along with Wednesday Recreation.
We have 2 new collaborations, one with Waypoint Adventures and one with TILL:
  • Waypoint Adventures took LABBB students Rock Climbing and will be doing a kayaking trip in June with more rock climbing groups in October. 
  • We also have a joint trip with TILL, as we travel to Ireland together in June. 

Stay tuned for more updates.

LABBB Podcast

In episode #6, Patric and Trish interview two LABBB staff persons: Caroline Brown, Teacher, and Marina Simons, Speech Pathologist. Both Caroline and Marina have a brother with special needs. We discuss growing with a sibling with special needs; how we first became aware that we had a sibling who has special needs; what impact did it have on our families; what is our biggest fear; how does a sibling advocate for themselves and many other topics. This was an informative discussion as we shared many stories and we reflected on our experiences. Each family experience is unique and you will listen to three different perspectives which have many similarities and differences. For families raising a child with special needs, and who also have other typically developing children, this is a must listen. 
Rosie's Place
Mr. Asklund's Class
Mr. Asklund's class is collecting toiletries for Rosie's Place. Rosie's Place is a shelter and place of support for women in South Boston. In addition to providing shelter, women can go to Rosie's Place to get a warm meal, take a shower, do laundry, use a computer, and take classes. For more information about Rosis's Place, please visit their website -  www.rosiesplace.org .

Toiletries collected will be given to guests through advocacy, outreach, and the outreach van.

Please drop off your donations of new, full sized toiletries, sunscreen, feminine hygiene products, and new or gently used towels in room 715, Mr Asklund's room, by  July 26. Our class can pick up donations from classrooms located at LHS on  July 26

Thank you!
Mr. A's class
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: [email protected] or 781-275-8381
(MMArc) Minute Man Arc Afternoon Recreation Afternoon Recreation & Friday Nights (16+yrs), Darcie Heller: [email protected] or C:978-201-2481/W: 978-287-7936 

(TILL) Toward Independent Living & Learning Travel:  Springboard Club, Dedham, high independence, Dale Belcher: [email protected] or 781-302-4619 (RARA) Recreational Adult Resource Association, Lowell Contact: [email protected] or 978-453-5598 
Riverside Community Care: DDS Family Support Center, Woburn Kaley Stoner: [email protected] or 781-686-6073  Lifelinks - DDS Family Support Center, Chelmsford, Rachel Ward Sullivan: [email protected] or 978-349-3040  *verify current + open to public 

Greater Marlborough Programs Inc - Social & Recreation (DDS Family Support), Marlborough Jim Karami: [email protected] or 508-485-4227 ext. 1006 
Echo Enrichment, Burlington, Mary Ann Perreira,[email protected] or 781-640-9351 
Trips R Us, Framingham, Mike Graham: [email protected] or 508-405-0999 

Alternative Leisure (ALCS), Bedford, Drew Bilillies: [email protected] or 781-275-0023 
Music Makes Me Happy Chorus, Lexington, Marsha Martin: [email protected] 
Concord Recreation, Anna Wood: awood@concordma.

Sudbury Therapeutic Recreation, Amber Forbes: [email protected] or 978-639-3257 

Belmont (SPORT) Special Programs Heidi Barbiero:  [email protected]  or 617-993-2760 

(SNAP) Special Needs Arts Program Chorus & Art, Lexington Contact: [email protected] or 781-325-8025

(GWArc) Greater Waltham Arc Recreation/Plus: Mike Mullins: [email protected] or 781-899-1344 x4120  Newton Therapeutic Recreation w/ Newton Athletes Unlimited, NewtonMark Kelly: [email protected] or 617-796-1527 
Kids in Disability Sports (K.I.D.S.), Lowell, Info: [email protected] or 866-712-7799 
Access Sport America, Acton, BettyMiller: [email protected]
Burlington Therapeutic Recreation, Burlington, Laurel Rossiter:
[email protected], 781-270-1937

Special Needs Arts Programs, Inc (SNAP)

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