LABBB 2021 Graduation
Sharing best practices and promoting inclusive opportunities for students with special needs    
Executive Director's Message

One Last Time

This newsletter was developed to share how LABBB practices our mission every day. We educate a diverse student population, and if you have read this newsletter in the past, you have learned the myriad ways in which we deliver our curriculum. Many articles illustrate unique lessons in staying true to our mission to promote academic, social, and career independence for all students in the most inclusive settings possible. These articles are written every month by our talented staff to reflect this.

My objective for this newsletter was also to include topics related to special needs planning to help parents prepare for the future; to implore family members and guardians to plan early. I shared many personal stories, mistakes, successes, and resources. As learned, I shared the essential special needs planning steps from real-life experiences. As a sibling, I wish our family had prepared better for the transition to me taking over as guardian for my sister. If I had not experienced this process myself, year after year, this may not have been a topic I felt so compelled to communicate over and over. I was determined to put the message out and put it out often.

My last day working in LABBB is a few days away and I was thinking about this one last time. What is a resource I can share? Then, I thought, "No, it is not about sharing another resource, it should be an action." What I am asking you to do is to take one deep breath in and let it out, then ask yourself, "what is the very next action I can take to start the process of planning for my son or daughter." You could go back and read my messages in past newsletters; you could listen to a LABBB podcast about housing or finance or click on this link to the podcast about my story, My Family's Experiences in Planning for an Adult with Special Needs, Part I; you can ask another LABBB parent to go out for coffee to discuss what they have done; you can type in Google, "Special needs planning" and read some articles for 30 minutes; You can call me to talk about the process; you could call a family meeting to discuss who will be the next guardian. Take just one action!

It has been an honor to have worked in LABBB for the past 32 years. The memories I will take with me are so positive and fulfilling. I have met so many wonderful students, families, and staff persons. I have always believed in "LABBB for Life," because we have built something special and we should use the support when we need it, especially when we have such a knowledgeable community that can assist us. LABBB has quite a history of how we were built and thrived over the past 48 years. Our community must stay connected.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

2021 LABBB High School Graduation Video

On Thursday, June 17, we held our 2021 High School graduation ceremony at the Scottish Rite Museum in Lexington under the library tent. Typically, we have our graduation ceremonies inside the museum, but this year they constructed a tent and stage and we were able to hold our ceremony outside. It was a beautiful evening and the LABBB Community came out to celebrate.

We also invited our class of 2020 to walk with the 2021 graduates in this celebration. Please take some time to view the video presentation of our event.

We are also sharing a link to the graduation slideshow that was presented at the ceremony. Click here to view the 2021 Graduation Slideshow
2021 LABBB Middle School Graduation Video

On Thursday, June 17, we also held our 2021 Middle School graduation ceremony at the Scottish Rite Museum in Lexington under the library tent. Our middle graduation was held in the afternoon a few hours before our high school graduation.

Clinical Corner: Why is it important to teach Replacement Behaviors?
By Nathan Kittridge

What is a replacement behavior?

A replacement behavior is the desired behavior that is maintained by the same consequences as the challenging behavior. The point is that by serving the same function as the challenging behavior, the desired behavior can be used to get the same need met, but in an appropriate way.

Why are they important to teach?

Replacement behaviors are important to teach because they help the student meet a need or want using a more appropriate means. 

Can we decrease the behavior without a replacement behavior? Yes, but it’s likely that the behavior will return unless we’ve met the need of the underlying function and provided the student a more appropriate way to obtain what they need.

Replacement behaviors are important to teach in order to create long-term positive behavior change that can be generalized across settings and individuals. 

When choosing a replacement behavior, what is the most important consideration?
The most important consideration when identifying a replacement skill is that it serves the same function (i.e., attention, escape, tangible, automatic) that the challenging behavior serves.
What are other important considerations?
Another important consideration in choosing a replacement behavior is efficiency. The replacement behavior needs to be more efficient than the unexpected behavior at accessing the reinforcer.

There are three elements that makeup efficiency. The replacement behavior has to get the reinforcer faster, easier, and more reliably.

1. Faster: The replacement behavior has to access the reinforcer more quickly than the challenging behavior. For example, if aggression to the teacher gets the student out of work immediately, but asking for a break requires the student to do additional work, then it is less efficient than the challenging behavior and won’t replace it.

2. Easier:  The replacement behavior needs to be easier for the individual to engage in than the challenging behavior. If it’s easier to engage in aggression than to find and use a communication device, look through it to find the right vocabulary, and then hit the button to tell you I want to talk to you, then aggression is going to continue to occur to get what you want. Whatever the replacement behavior is, it has to be within the individual’s repertoire and easy to access. 

3. More Reliable:  The replacement behavior has to get reinforcement more frequently and more consistently than the challenging behavior. We can accomplish this in two ways. To do this, we need to make sure that the replacement behavior form we choose is something that is easily understood and will get the needed response in most situations. If I’m teaching sign language to ask for attention and the student’s sign is idiosyncratic and not easily understood by others, then it’s not going to be terribly reliable because it won’t be understood and reinforced across environments.
BY Janet Paz and Peter Asklund  

As the world continues to recover from the pandemic, we are striving to get back to “community” living and being a part of a greater whole. Although many of us have been physically apart, Zooming offered us a way to be together mentally and emotionally. Fortunately, for our class, we were able to resume in-person learning early on.

Being able to put parts of our lives and community back together are analogous to pieces of a puzzle. So when we were asked to be part of the Puzzle Piece Collage Project as part of the Lexington Community Center, we were thrilled. Our students were provided with puzzle pieces to decorate. These pieces represent us being able to come together mentally even as we continue the process of coming together physically. This not only has the benefit of the continuation of our art therapy and mindfulness and wellness curriculum, it gives the students the chance to be part of something much bigger than themselves. The students loved this project because they were able to express their creativity through colors and textures.

Because of the size of this project, as in life and like this puzzle, some pieces got lost along the way and may not get back to where they belong. Despite this, the puzzle still conveys the notion of togetherness during a time of physical separation. This is why we loved the idea of this project. It offers optimism through a sense of togetherness, which has been sparse in the past months.

This was an awesome experience for our students as well as the Lexington Community Center, and we look forward to being part of any future Lexington Community Center projects.
The Path to Progress
By Theresa LeBlanc, Transition Department

The past 15 months have been a time like no other in our lifetime.  We were all thrown a major curveball that nobody knew how to handle. We were all asked to get out of our own comfort zones and create a system where we could continue to learn and grow.  The staff and students in the Belmont Transition Program did not skip a beat as we “transitioned” into a new normal. That “new normal” brought on great risk with a significant chance of failure.  Thankfully, the unplanned opportunity forced everyone in our community to go into unchartered territory and test new ways to grow, succeed, fail and then to get up and try again.  This resulted in several of our students getting into the fast lane to become proficient in their own job search and to develop job acquisition skills. Many students also became superstars in their own homes as they learned to do their own laundry and increase their independence in doing household chores. However, the proudest moments were experienced when patience, flexibility, creativity, and persistence were practiced by everyone over and over again.

As we say farewell to this challenging, but memorable, 2020-2021 school year, I leave you with a quote that I have kept in my desk for years. I found it in a special education journal years ago, and it has guided me professionally, and personally, ever since. I feel it describes an important element of who we are and what we do at LABBB. 

Opportunity for growth carries with it the possibility of failure. Accompanying every endeavor is the element of risk. If growth truly implies change for improvement, then it must also carry with it the chance that there will be no change, no improvement, or even failure. When a person’s environment is over-protected in such a manner that there is little or no chance for failure, then in reality there is little or no chance for real or significant success. To deprive someone of the opportunity for significant achievement because of an associated element of risk is to deprive them of their potential for growth toward a self-sufficient, progressive, and dignified state of life.”
-Author Unknown

Wishing you a summer of well-being, progress, and growth!

By: Donna Goodell

One of our Core Values at LABBB is Partnership. Our partnership with families is so important. When we work together, families and staff, to support the whole child, student success is always greater.
As this very unique and challenging year and a half comes to an end, we want to thank all of our LABBB parents and families for their partnership. As I watched and experienced the various phases of the pandemic play out at LABBB, I saw staff and families working more closely together, collaborating, problem solving, and supporting each other from a distance. As staff, we can never do it alone, but over this year and a half, we had to bring our teaching right into your homes, most often with you sitting right beside your child, helping them access and engage in the lessons our staff worked so hard to create in a way that was interactive and meaningful. While our core value of partnership has always been important, it has blossomed this year in a way I’ve not experienced before.
Together, we made the best of a very difficult situation, and together we ensured that our students/your children continued to learn. We want to take this moment to recognize and thank our wonderful parents and family members whose undying partnership supported our students’ learning from home during the pandemic. To echo the words of our Associate Commissioner, Russell Johnston, “We are better together!”
LABBB Adapted Physical Education, Recreation and Social Opportunities

This is usually the newsletter that I write about our Special Olympics. Once again, however, we had to miss out on all the fun.
The last year and a half has been full of changes and working through the unknown.

  • Who would have thought that APE classes and after-school recreation classes would take place on something called Zoom?
  • We lost activities but we gained some as well.
  • We learned that we could do things differently but still have loads of fun.
  • Zoom Bingo was such a huge success that folks have requested it continue on Zoom, even when we can go back to in-person activities.
  • Our Best Buddies events on Zoom gave us the ability to have past Buddies join from all over. 
Fast forward to May, when we started to ease back into in-person events. Our first trip (Mini Golf) felt so good and natural, even with face masks and safe distancing. Everyone truly enjoyed time with friends, sharing a meal and having fun together at a LABBB event. 
Walking club also returned. It’s always nice to walk and chat with friends and get some exercise, especially when you don’t realize you are exercising. 
Slowly but surely, LABBB APE and LABBB Recreation will come back to what we all know and love. Hopefully next year at this time, this article will be about our Special Olympics again and all the fun we had. 
Stay tuned for our LABBB Recreation brochure to come out in August.  

Remember to follow @LABBBREC on Twitter
Updated LABBB Brochure

Click here or on the image to view the new LABBB brochure.

Executive Director, Patric Barbieri, Hosts a Podcast talking about special needs planning and resources related to our community

In episode #22 we talk about our journey in building a mindful culture in LABBB. It is one of our core values that is posted throughout our collaborative. There is a significant difference between just talking about these practices and actually doing them. We made a commitment to offering mindful practices for all students in all our classrooms every single day. We also believe for us to be successful we need to offer and teach this to our staff as well. We are a community practicing together and this is the only way to get the true benefits. We have been fortunate to have many staff persons who have a myriad of unique mind-body skills to bring into our environments for both students and staff. 

This initiative started organically back in the early '90s. We realized that these practices have a significant impact on managing the pervasive anxiety symptoms that people are feeling. Our mission was to bring these practices directly into our schools and for staff and students to know they have permission to practice at any time. When one individual is practicing it is benefiting their entire community!

Rayne Pratt and Lisa Poirier, LABBB Occupational therapists, join me in this podcast. They are members of our LABBB Mind/Body team and they are also the creators and facilitators of our all-day staff retreat that we offer. 


LABBB Contacts
LABBB Collaborative
123 Cambridge Street, Burlington MA. 01803|