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

2021 LABBB Transition Fair

I talk and write about transition quite a bit. Almost every newsletter I write has something to do with the transition process! This is my responsibility. For a moment, I hesitate, and reflect, "They must be thinking, oh no, another article about transition?" That thought lasts for about three seconds and I continue to write about transition again.

Why? If I hadn't heard so many stories of parents wishing they were more prepared; if I didn't speak to so many parents and guardians who were shocked; if everyone was aware of what they were going to do to keep their son or daughter busy and knew how to access the resources for recreation and housing; or understood the responsibilities of a rep payee, SSI, ABLE Accounts, Special need trusts, The Ride, or if they all had already had the difficult conversation about who will take care of their child when they are not here, then there wouldn't be a need to write about this so often.

So many parents have learned about these topics in our parent meetings and transition fairs over the last few years. They are getting a reality check and expert financial advice from the best of the best speakers such as Michael Weiner and invaluable information about housing options from Dafna Krouk-Gordon.

Should we hide from the inevitable transition until a few years before the age of 22, or confront it now? We choose to prepare and to confront the difficult decisions, but more importantly, we want to build an awareness of what is to come. Our responsibility is to constantly remind the LABBB community because we never want to hear, "You never told us what it would be like." We care deeply about our students, families, and our alumni. We want to be a resource to make it easier and support you through this.

This was the impetus of our Transition Fair. We bring all of this to you throughout the year, but this is the culmination of information for a transition that is soon to come.

This year we decided to focus on the state of the adult programs. We are in a pandemic and nothing is running as normal. What does that mean? What will happen in the future? We need to know this and it is a bit of a mystery. We will hear from the people who are funding and offering these services. We need to keep our eyes and ears open.

We have to bring it to you virtually, but we feel this is better than missing and waiting another year.

Clinical Corner: Shaping Positive Statements
By Caroline Corcoran, BCBA, LABA

In our everyday lives, positive and negative statements are used to state what we want, express dislike, or express discomfort over an event that is occurring in our environment. Let’s talk a little more about the difference between positive and negative statements before diving into how we can shape our language into positives. 

There is scientific understanding behind “why” negative statements are perceived stronger than positive ones but in the long term are less effective on human behavior. Negative statements receive more attention and arouse more emotions. One theory, called Negative Bias, explains why listeners often listen to negative statements over positive. Negative statements are often associated with fear and danger while positive are associated with security and safety. At a cognitive level, a listener automatically pays more attention to unpleasant statements but also blocks the brain's natural de-stress mechanisms, thus having a less effective long term effect on behavior. 

So, how can we change our behavior by stating the positive rather than focusing on the negative?

Positive phrasing and statements are easier to understand than negative statements when talking with others. You can be more assertive and straightforward when you say what something is than when you try to express it by saying what it isn't. Here is an example:

  • Positive statement: Please take the ball outside.
  • Negative statement: Do not throw the ball inside.

Positive statements should include what the listener should be doing. Telling children (and adults, too!) what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do puts the focus on the desired action and ups your chances of a positive outcome. Here is an example:

  • Positive statement: I like it when… Example: (I like it when you put down the video games when asked!)
  • Negative statement: Don’t….Example : (Don’t play those videogames all day!)
Links to more information:
A Glimpse Of Our Journey Into Young Adult Life
By: Carol Chaisson’s Functional ELA Class,
Classroom Assistant Linda Driscoll
Students: Deana M., Drew S., Adam M., Brian E., Calvin F., Hubert W., Jay Jay V., Nick S., Zach M., Peter C., Oliver G., Shane C., Loukas F., Mike B., Justin K.
At Burlington High School our classroom focuses on functional academics and transition from our teenage years into young adulthood. Our academics focus on functional learning and how to use these skills in real-life situations (ex. we are learning to carry over what we learn in the classroom into the community). We are all between the ages of 18-21 and we want to become as independent as possible. Many of us have jobs within the LABBB worksites and some of us also have jobs within our own communities. A few of us also attend the ICEI Program and take courses at Middlesex Community College. Even though this year has been very different, our goal is to be positive and look towards the future and all that we can achieve.
Our weekly schedule is very busy. We have ELA, Math, Health/Life Science, Current Events, and specialist groups such as Occupational Ed., Speech, Wellness, Young Adult, Gym, Enrichment, Cooking Prep/Demo, and Art. This year most of us are in school 4 days a week for half days and then head home for remote learning in the afternoons. We also have 1 full day of remote learning. We focus on functional tasks related to using technology (for example using Chromebooks-Google Drive, Google Classroom, using apps on our phones, emailing, etc.). Math focuses on money, budgeting, time management, travel training, and elapsed time. We are learning about various health topics such as taking care of ourselves, nutrition, medicine safety, and how to handle stressful situations, using strategies to keep ourselves grounded. Current events are a hot topic as well and we explore what is happening in the world around us. 
-I like math because I have been doing a budgeting project about how much you spend on things, like paying utilities, buying clothing, and food. Adam M.

-Health/Life Science is the best because I like to learn about health, nutrition, and positivity. Zach M.

-Current Events/Social Studies is my favorite because we learn interesting things that include time periods, government, famous people, and wars. Peter C.

-My favorite subject at the ICEI Program @ Middlesex is drawing. I like all the projects and am learning something new every class. Loukas F.
We all have many work experiences between us. Some at LABBB supported worksites (such as Whole Foods, Pine and Baker, Lahey Clinic, Belmont School Store, Meadowmist Farm, LABBB Office, Marshalls, etc.) and some within our own communities (Wegmans, Shrivers Clinical, Chipotle, Market Basket, and Bibi Cafe for example). No matter where we work, we are learning different types of skills and using these skills to become good at our jobs. We practice skills such as good communication, listening, and interacting with others. We are learning to follow rules/expectations and about taking responsibility. Some of us have a harder time communicating and advocating for ourselves, so we are learning to do this and become more independent.
-I am hoping to achieve baking and food preparation skills in order to work at my local job and I am in the progress of learning more skills for my future. Nick S.

-For work, we need to have good communication, greet people, offer great customer service, values, and high expectations. As employees, we are expected to do great and not give up. Drew S.

-I work hard and have learned so much at Shrivers and the Woburn District Court. I am independent and can’t wait to be an adult. Michael B.

-I do a great job working at Market Basket and Chipotle. I like Market Basket the best because I am social with many people. Justin K.

-I’m interested in maybe a job in editing someday because I am a good worker and I have a hobby where I mix up different music to different movie credits. Jay Jay V.
Transition into young adulthood is a big part of what we talk about in the classroom and the topic of many of our class discussions. We are all over 18 years old and it can be scary trying to figure out what we want to do in the future. As we learn skills, we have to make sure that we practice and use them in our everyday lives. All of us want greater independence and to be able to make our own decisions. This year has truly challenged us and so many things have been different. But as young adults, we have shown that we are capable of so much, even when obstacles are put in our way. We work hard, we try our best, we focus and we are determined to be successful no matter what path our future holds.
 -As an adult, I am excited to make my own decisions, build self-confidence and positive work, and soft skills. Brian E.

-I am looking forward to working, making money, and living either alone or with roommates. Hubert W.

-This year has been very different because of Covid, so I try to read books and watch movies to help me stop being anxious or stressed. Shane C.

-A few things that I would like to work on are having confidence and being honest. Oliver G.

-This school year is very different from other school years. One strategy that keeps me from getting frustrated is listening to music on my phone or my computer. I also love to dance to the beat of classic rock and roll. Deana M.

-I’m an adult now because I work harder and I’m not a kid anymore. Calvin F.
Practicing Self-Regulation
By: Tori Dennis

I walked into Miss Erika’s room at Arlington High School where I found the class participating in a SPOT (Speech/OT) group around community safety. The specialists were using the smartboard to guide an interactive lesson where students were both hands on, and following along on a worksheet. Staff was scattered throughout the room to assist where needed. The noise volume in the room was a dull roar, with students asking staff questions, walking to the board to participate in the activity, and some interacting with one another… As the noise began to climb, you could see a look come over Miss Erika’s face. She quietly walked over to the door and shut off the lights. She then gently asked all students to return to their seats, and without saying anything else, pulled up a “calm down” routine on the smartboard. All staff fell silent to demonstrate the direction, and Miss Erika guided her class through a series of deep breaths, hand squeezes, and slow counts to ten. After about the third round, you could feel the energy in the entire room shift; bodies became calmer, and no one spoke beyond the guided suggestions made by the teacher. At that time, the SPOT activity was represented up on the screen, and the group resumed, completing their work without a hitch. The vibe within the entire classroom had completely changed.
Self-regulation is a concept we all strive for, and we all hope to teach. What speaks to each person is different, but the concept remains the same. The ability to acknowledge and redirect unsettled energy within yourself, is a challenging feat. Strategies for self-regulation have to be practiced, and most often, guided, before a student may be able to implement them independently. Each student in Miss Erika’s class has their own, “calm down” routine that they have learned explicitly during times when they did not need it. This strategy familiarizes students with the steps of the exercise, so when they are in need, it is a familiar and gentle process. What works for some, does not work for all… Finding self-regulation strategies that speak to each individual can take some time. So where do you start? Supporting students to identify their levels of arousal, trial techniques for redirecting high arousal levels, allowing students to identify their preferences, and practice, practice, practice.
These proactive tools and strategies support students to increase their independence across domains. When a student can identify when they may be feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, and has the ability to implement a strategy to redirect themselves, it gives them the opportunity to experience, participate, and be successful across multiple environments.
A self-regulation technique can look like a sequential “calm down” routine, it can be a proactive yoga practice or movement strategy, it may be listening to music, or a quiet moment to close your eyes. Whatever it may be, it is important to establish something that supports your student’s ability to self monitor and move forward.
As students begin to transition from the classroom to more community based learning, these tools become an integral part of their ability to participate independently. It is important to know what strategies work for your students and support them to practice outside of the classroom, in the community, and while at home. 
Due to the increased time on-campus this year, we have been giving extra focus to incorporating proactive strategies for self-regulation into our transition/vocational practices. Pictured, is an activity board used at AHS to incorporate movement breaks and help develop strategies for self-regulation in the community and workplace.   
PT and Technology
By: Stephanie Wiechens

Whether in-person or remote, at the elementary, middle, or high school level, all of the students have adjusted quite well and look forward to participating in their physical therapy exercises. The PT department has been creative and has incorporated technology into our sessions. Youtube has videos from The Learning Station, Just Dance for Kids, Go with YoYo, Pediatric Therapy Essentials, PE Bowman, and GoNoodle (to name a few), which have been a great resource for “virtual” game-like activities. A lot of holiday themes have been incorporated into the exercise videos and the students really enjoy them.

Some videos have exercises that can be modified and be done in sitting or standing positions. The videos include gross motor activities such as running, jumping, ducking, sliding, throwing, and kicking. We have also become adept at using Google Slides to create interactive board games with yoga-themed exercises. The in-person students still request using some of these exercises videos/games as they are motivating and engaging and provide great visual/auditory cues for the students.
Hidden Figures: Black Women taking over a Man's World
By: Jack James
Looking at ways to teach Civil Rights while also trying to make it fun, informative, and accessible across varying abilities is no small task. There are so many events taking place from the beginning of slavery, events of the civil war, to the current Black Lives Matter protests. These movements in history are coated in tragedy. When diving into this forum of the civil rights movement, is it possible to do so in a way that gives the bad while highlighting all the good that arose from it? There is! That story is Hidden Figures by: Margot Lee Shetterly.

In the 1940s the U.S. found itself amid war. With Adolf Hitler at the height of power in Germany, and Japan targeting the U.S. and other foreign powers, WWII was here. Men as young as 18 were drafted and or encouraged to enlist by the United States Army to fight for the freedoms of many nations and support democracy around the world. This was also a time of great racial divide in the United States. Racism and segregation were bread in the foundation of America. Blacks and Whites were separated in schools, stores, movie theaters, buses, and at water fountains simply due to the melanin in their skin. Many African American Men as soldiers and Women as part of the women’s Corps, supporting the men on the front lines, saw enlisting as an opportunity. If they served, then would they finally earn the Civil Rights they deserved?

This, of course, would not make as substantial of a difference as they hoped. Amid war here on earth, the fight to leave our planet was also a battle in itself. The United States and Russia were racing to be the first in space. To accomplish the astronomical goal, Computers (mathematicians) were needed to calculate how best to achieve lift-off. NASA out of Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia, advertised they were looking to hire females. This led to new and exciting opportunities for many women across the country who applied. Of course it was not easy for women to integrate into male dominated job positions, they did so with intelligent elegance.

They faced prejudice based entirely on the fact that they were women. Men looked down upon them and treated them unfairly. Toxic masculinity was in overdrive. Men who remained home during the war and continued to work, often felt threatened and more entitled to the power that came from being male. Women were treated poorly at the time, but being black and stepping into this world was almost unspeakable. Over the course of this decade, women began stepping into these roles as mathematicians at Langley, paving the way for future generations to be more than they ever dreamed possible. It was the unspoken, under-appreciated, and often overlooked African American women stepping into these positions that truly inspired change. Which makes this the perfect base material for curriculum, by telling a story based in absolute black female power.
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson were three talented, intelligent, and poised Mathematicians. Dorothy became the first black female to move up in ranks to become supervisor of her department. Mary Jackson, with support by those who saw her genius, became NASA’s first African American female engineer, while Katherine Johnson is credited with helping NASA successfully put a man into orbit around the earth. These amazing women not only accomplished their dreams, they did it during a time of racial divide in our country.

Their journey through women joining the American workforce was a challenge in itself. Now imagine doing all of this while also being black during this time. This is a story that not only allows us to touch on Civil Rights, it allows us to understand and learn through the eyes of the women who made change happen. Teaching Civil Rights history through this lens allows us to show all the different angles that were involved for so many, while also giving us a history of that time with a happy ending where Hidden figures are hidden no more. 
By: Sue Good

It has been a year now since you took over our lives

They said we had to take two weeks off but that was just their surmise.
You interrupted our school year without any warning

Left us in despair watching the news each and every morning.
You brought new meaning to no more school, no more books
Now there were no more teachers' in person looks.
You forced us to stay at home and learn remotely every day on Zooms
Left parents and guardians setting up classes in their kitchen and dining rooms.
You demanded a lockdown and isolation which got on everyone’s last nerve

They say it was the only way to flatten the curve.
You continued to make us Zoom this and Zoom that, Zoom here and Zoom there

No restrictions being lifted became a never-ending nightmare.
You made us miss family, birthday parties, and friends at play
The Governor’s announcement dashed any hopes of lockdown ending in May.
You wreaked havoc on us through June and July as we remember
Finally, we got word we could go back to school in September.
We arrived at school with trepidation and fear on our face
However, you couldn’t see it while we were donning our masks securely in place.
We couldn’t help but wonder if being in school was COVID safe
So much controversy surrounding learning while being in our in-person space.
We had to adjust to many new don’t spread the virus at school rules
Desks 6 feet apart, no friendly fist bumps or high fives that were now very uncool.
We approach the anniversary of two weeks to flatten the curve scheme
Tired but relentless, knowing we will all soon have the vaccine.
We will continue to social distance, wash our hands and cover our mouth and nose

In hopes that schools, restaurants, and businesses will never again be closed.
We have a final message for you COVID 19 which caused us many a suffer and sacrifice

We have survived your worldly pandemic and will move ahead living our best life. 
LABBB Adapted Physical Education, Recreation and Social Opportunities

Spring is in the air and March is “Spread the Word to End the Word” month. This year, the name for March 3rd was changed to “Spread The Word Inclusion Day.” This year's “Spread The Word Inclusion Day” shirts were sold on the Best Buddies store at Tricorn Sports and delivered in time for March 3rd. We hope you were able to get yours and wear it proudly.  
One of everyone’s favorite things about spring is the increase of natural light, which has many health benefits. For example, it is good for your eyes, especially for eye development. The human eye contains photosensitive cells in the retina, which connects directly to the pituitary gland in the brain. Sunlight stimulates these important cells. It gives us another reason to get outside, especially for computer breaks and after a long day of working/studying/playing on electronics. Don’t look at the sun directly, though, just let it shine on you.
Get outside as much as possible and do anything that involves moving. Run, Walk, Jump and have fun in the sun!

Remember to follow @LABBBREC on Twitter

Save the Date for upcoming events:

March 11, 2021, LABBB St. Patrick’s Day Dance via Zoom
March 19, 2021, Alumni Dance via Zoom
April 1, 2021, LABBB April Fools Dance, 6:30PM via Zoom
SESSpecial Artists and Crafts over Zoom
Executive Director, Patric Barbieri, Hosts a Podcast talking about special needs planning and resources related to our community

In Episode #21 We have our first guest of the year and joining us is Brendan Aylward. Brendan has a degree in special education from Lesley University and owns Unified Health and Performance in Lancaster MA. Many LABBB students work out at his gym and he has created a unique culture in his gym integrating students with special needs with all gym members. Brendan's mission aligns with our mission in LABBB and he has the vision to continue to expand his business and offering more services and inclusive opportunities for students with special needs. He also created AdaptX which is a training program to become a coach for adapted fitness programs for athletes with disabilities and he talks all about it in this podcast. Click here to view Episode #21


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