March 2018

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities       for  students with special needs 
LABBB Skiers Ready for the Super-G?
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Spring Planning Links    

We have all heard of spring cleaning, but what about a little spring planning for families. There are many workshops for parents happening at this time of the year; like this one, Putting the Pieces Together: The Path to Adulthood on April 7 at the Minuteman ARC. I recommend this workshop and it is free. Here is another workshop coming up on March 10 by the  Federation For Children with Special Needs,  Visions of Community.

The spring air will have a scent of transition in it, and it is starting to build as we gear up for changes to come. Planning for transition doesn't have to be stressful; it is a learning experience, it is a journey. I encourage everyone not go at this alone. This is what the LABBB community is here to help you with. 

Last month we had a lively Executive Director's chat. We spoke about different types of living options, financial planning, recreation, and opportunities to build our LABBB network to share resources. Many parents have great information, and they are eager to share it with our community. I really enjoy these talks, and after we are finished, I am looking forward to doing some research on the questions I could not answer. For example, do you know about ABLE accounts? We will have another Executive Director's chat this spring! 

LABBB did a little spring cleaning on our website! LABBB Updated Website.

Start planning now for summer, check out Greater Massachusetts Special Needs Events.

Happy St. Patric's Day! 

Valentine's Day at Memorial
By:  Marina Simons, SLP and Cassandra Mancini, OT

                                Hearts were everywhere at Memorial Elementary School in Burlington! Grades 3-5 students made their own memory game during occupational therapy group and then played it during speech therapy group. Students used their visual motor skills to replicate a pattern from a model heart to a blank heart to make a matching pair. While playing this fun game during speech group, students needed to describe the hearts and decide if they looked the same or different, all while practicing turn-taking. 

During occupational therapy group, preschool-2nd grade students decorated big and little valentines with stickers, markers, and stamps. During speech therapy group, our young students used their pretend-play skills to "mail" and "deliver" their valentines using a fun, pretend, old-fashioned mailbox. Then the kids needed to sort their valentines by size. Throughout the activity, adults modeled and the children used core words and phrases such as put in, take out, give, and open.
All the students were engaged while creating and using the materials for these activities. This helps students gain confidence and feel proud of their work. The wonderful collaboration between teachers and specialists at Memorial helps the students learn and generalize new skills across settings and people.

Mindfulness During Motor Group
By: Stephanie Wienchens
The students at Chenery Middle School and Butler Elementary have really enjoyed practicing their mindfulness and yoga with Jaime, the host of Cosmic Kids
Videos. The students are engaged and fascinated by the stories that Jamie tells while performing different yoga positions that go along with the story. Some of the popular yoga videos include stories from Star Wars, Moana, Frozen, and Going on a Bear Hunt. It is amazing to see how visual and auditory our students are and how they rely on these senses for feedback. PT goes around to assist the students with the different positions. Jaime moves fast, so pausing the video during a pose can help the students attain and maintain the positions a little longer. Some of the parents have been reporting that their children will do the videos at home when they have not been interested in doing any other physical activity. Check them out, and Namaste!
Striving for Independence In a World full of Really Complex Skills
By: Jessica Rizzo  MSEd, BCBA, LABA

Task Analysis is a method of breaking down and teaching the simple steps of a more difficult task and chaining them all together. We, as clinicians and educators, throw this term out like it's nothing, but it is a beautiful tool for teaching skills we, as typically developing individuals, take for granted.

To create a task analysis:
  1. Decide what the skill is that you want to teach (ex. Toasting bread)
  2. Do the task yourself and write down every step!
  3. Watch your son or daughter try to do it, and write down what they do
  4. Take the steps you've written down and try to complete the skill again. Do it exactly as written! What did you miss? You'd be surprised! Did you use one hand? Both hands? Did you have to open the bread bag? Did you have to plug in the toaster?
  5. Now add those steps in, and try it again!
  6. Once you've got all 50 steps (slight exaggeration) record what steps your child does on their own.
  7. Reflect on their performance: Is plugging in the toaster too complicated? Do they have the fine motor skills to use a twist tie? Should you teach these individual skills outside the context of the task analysis? Or do you add a step that they just ask for help?
  8. Do it yourself one more time, and have your child do it one more time!
Each step of the task analysis is taught individually. Use least-to-most prompting to allow independent responding on steps your child may be able to perform on their own. Then use the best prompting method if they don't do it on their own! Every child is different, some respond better to physical prompts where you are moving their hand or arm to complete the skill, some respond to gestural/point cues, others may just need a verbal prompt, "open." When you run through the task analysis, make sure you go in the same order each time and allow for an independent response before you prompt. It may take some time for your child to learn the skill, but they will eventually reach a level of independence.
Bedford High LABBB Interns
By: Susan Good
The Bedford High LABBB classrooms have a very unique quality. We are fortunate enough to have Bedford High student interns who spend time with us in the classroom and around the school. We see them at lunch, in the hallway, and during mainstream classes. They spend time socializing with us and like to give us high five's when they see us in the hallways. Currently, we have 18 interns who devote their class time with us.
These are some of the ways they help us right from the mouths of LABBB students:
~They help us with our classwork
~They play games with us during break, especially UNO
~They tell us jokes and are funny
~They are so kind to us
~The interns hang out and eat with us during lunch
~They color and do meditation with us
~They go to dances
~They say hi and give high five's to me in the hallway
~Some are Best Buddies too
~They assist us in the community
~They will text me nice messages
~They introduce their friends to us
We really love our interns! They are extremely valuable to our learning and social life in high school! We look forward to them being a part of our day here at Bedford High LABBB.

Clinical Corner: Guardianship
By: Kelly Sexton

For many families, the question of guardianship is raised when their child with a disability is nearing age 18. If a child's disability impacts his/her ability to make decisions, they may require a legal guardian (usually a parent or family member) to make educational, financial, and/or medical decisions for them once they turn 18. Determining whether or not guardianship is relevant for a child and family, and then engaging in the guardianship process, can be overwhelming, confusing, and emotional. The LABBB Social Work Department has developed this brief overview to help families begin to understand guardianship, find necessary resources, and learn the role LABBB staff can have in this process.
What is guardianship?

When a child turns 18, he/she is considered to be an adult in the eyes of the law and is presumed to have all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. This is the case regardless of the person's disability. As stated above, if a child's decision-making is impacted by his/her disability, a legal guardian (usually a parent or family member) may need to be appointed to make educational, financial, and/or medical decisions for that child.  This is a legal process that requires a series of steps to complete. If guardianship is not obtained, once a child turns 18, parents no longer have legal authority to engage in discussions about, or make decisions for their child. This means that unless parents obtain guardianship, they may be prohibited from speaking with certain entities on the child's behalf, such as the child's doctor, educational staff, and health insurance representatives.
Where is there more information about guardianship?

At LABBB, we have many students who require legal guardians to make decisions on their behalf due to their disabilities. The following resources offer information and support regarding the guardianship process:
If a child is involved with a state agency, such as DDS, they may have additional resources to support parents during the guardianship process.

Some families retain the assistance of an attorney to support and guide them through the guardianship process. There is a list of attorneys on the Massachusetts Guardianship Association website under the Membership Directory. This directory also lists other professionals who specialize in the guardianship process.

How can LABBB help?

If parents choose to pursue guardianship of their child, the court may require that a social worker (LICSW), medical doctor, and psychologist complete a document called a Clinical Team Report. The Clinical Team Report provides professionals who know your child the opportunity to document how your child's disability impacts their ability to make decisions. The social worker component of the report requires that the social worker interview the student's teacher, talk with parents, observe the student, and complete the paperwork.
In many cases, LABBB supports families in this process by providing social workers to assess students for guardianship, and when appropriate, complete the social worker portion of the Clinical Team Report.
Please note that LABBB does not complete the psychologist portion of the report.
Parents who are interested in requesting a LABBB social worker to start the process of completing the Clinical Team Report should contact their child's LABBB program administrator. Based on the number of requests LABBB social workers receive each month, there may be a waiting period for this service.
Once parents complete the guardianship process, they should provide LABBB with a copy of the guardianship documentation.
Disclaimer: Please note the LABBB Collaborative does not offer legal advice or recommend private providers, such as attorneys. The above information is exclusively informational and does not constitute legal advice.
Mindfulness in Mr. Asklund's Class
By: Janet Paz

The beginning of each month, the students choose a mindfulness topic from "Go Noodle," a website that makes movement and mindfulness an integral part of the day. Under the channel "Think About It," there are many choices such as being a team player and building patience. We then integrate the topic throughout the month in all areas of our classes.

For the month of February, our class chose the theme to "Help Others." We started each morning with our topic and students found ways to achieve their goals throughout the day. These included smiling, picking someone up, or maybe just listening.

As a class, we decided to pick an organization or group that needed some help, and we found Lowell Community Health Center. This group helps people in need. They were looking for donations of hats and mittens for adults and children, so we organized a collection around school and throughout LABBB, and then we delivered them. The people at L.C.H.C. were so delighted and appreciative of all the donations, they asked us if we could do more in the future.

We also made valentines and delivered them to patients at Pilgrim Rehabilitation in Peabody MA. Helping large organizations is a good way to support others, but in our classroom, we are always here with a smile or a word of encouragement whenever you need it!
Pals in Room 107 at Francis Wyman
By: Amanda Scheriff
Our Pals at Francis Wyman have been wonderful in helping us during our speech group on Thursdays! Each week they show great energy and take the time to model use of their speech devices. This past month we tied up our unit on friendship and Valentine's Day by making an "I see" collage with all the objects and materials we might see on the holiday. Our Pals helped us to explore all the objects, describe them, and put them into our collage. 
We love spending our Thursdays with them!
A 'Win, Win'
By Kristin Dailey, Transition Department Head
Our greatest hope is for our students to move on from LABBB and live happy and meaningful lives, participating as productive members of society. Of course, this looks different for every student, but there is no greater feeling than knowing that we, at LABBB, have done everything possible to ensure our students are prepared. These feelings are reinforced with every success story.
For many of our students, employment can be challenging to find and maintain. Quite honestly, it can be hard for anyone to find and maintain employment. With our students, it can take a village - students, parents, LABBB staff, employers, Human Service Agencies, etc. to create a successful employment outcome. It often takes 'out of the box' thinking. What can our students do for employers that may be a bit dissimilar than their typical employees, but extremely beneficial for them, and meaningful for our students?
Mobility Transfer Systems (MTS) in Billerica is masterful at 'out of the box' thinking, and truly understands the value our students bring to their company, specifically noting accurate production and promoting a positive work environment. The owners, as well as the on-site Manager of the company, have supported LABBB for several years. Our students participate in an Internship at MTS, assembling various packages and materials. In fact, in a recent podcast with LABBB, one of the owners stated that having LABBB students there is a 'win, win.' Our students benefit from experiencing an Internship at MTS, and MTS employees benefit from the positive work environment created by our students being there.
One LABBB student, Justin, who recently turned 22, was hired by MTS! Justin developed interests, as well as various strengths during his Internship at MTS. MTS owners and the on-site Manager recognized this, as well as appreciated the positivity his personality brought to their environment. They truly value Justin as a whole - who he is as a person, his interests, his strengths, his skills, as well as the areas where he needs additional support. Justin will be working three days per week, using the Self-directed Service Model through DDS, which will provide him with a the support he needs while at work.
LABBB is so fortunate to have partnerships with such supportive businesses. It is our hope that other companies will hear about stories such as Justin's, and be open to the possibilities that can come when you hire people with different abilities.
Recreation News and Events
By:  Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator

Recreation Updates

Spring Bowling and Wednesday Recreation Programs are set to start in March. Thursday bowling starts March 8th, Tuesday bowling starts March 27, and Wednesday Recreation starts March 28. We have a good number of students signed up for all of these activities.

LABBB Best Buddies officers are working together to Spread the Word to End the Word. Arlington Best Buddies will host this year's Say No to the R Word Assembly, on March 7th in their auditorium from 1:30-2:30. Best Buddy Ambassador, Andre, will speak at the assembly. The chapters have sold shirts and had pledge signing campaigns to End the R Word as well. Lexington High student and Best Buddy, Jalessi Aviles, designed this year's shirt.

Spring brings the Special Olympics back to Lexington High School. This year, the event will be on May 2, 2018. Registration forms will be sent in the mail and should be returned by April 2, via mail or online signup. The Best Buddy chapters are gearing up to provide over 200 athletes with buddy matches for the day of the event. All of our LABBB students, from elementary to High School, participate. This is the 14th annual Special Olympics for LABBB, please come and join over 400 volunteers, parents, and staff to cheer on the athletes. It is a fun day for all.

The Lexington Best Buddies are putting together a Talent Show on April 4th at Lexington Community Center. Lexington LABBB buddies should have been notified via email. More details will come out later this month on this event.

Upcoming Fundraiser for LABBB: On April 26th, we will have our 2nd Annual Glow Golfing Fun Night at Stone Meadow in Lexington, MA. Look for flyers with more information in the mail. If interested in playing as a foursome, or as an individual, please email to sign up. Spaces go quickly.

  • 2-Beginner Kayaking programs
  • Dates: 6/12/18 and 6/19/18 (Tuesdays)
  • Time: 4:30-7:00pm
  • Lake Cochituate in Wayland
Global Flight Adventures
  • Flight Simulation Center.
  • We will start with a one day trip (date TBD), then possibly look into a monthly trip if we have the interest.
We are also looking into doing some hiking trips as a day trip and overnight. Stay tuned.  


A LABBB Podcast

In this episode we talk with Mobility Transfer Systems Inc. owner Thomas Leoutsakos, his wife Dina Leoutsakos, and Stephani DiDonato-Azar. Listen to this amazing story and the opportunity this company gives to our students in LABBB. We feel fortunate to be partnering with such a compassionate and forward thinking organization. Mobility Transfer Systems Inc. is the predominant leader in bringing you unique medical products to improve the quality of life for people who are physically challenged and elderly. We are the manufacturers of The Transfer Handle ™ which is the Safest and Easiest way to get in and out of bed. We also produce an entire line of bed mobility products as well as the SafetySure ™ line of products. MTS is a close knit company that prides itself on providing first class customer service to all of our clients. We supply products to individuals, businesses, doctors and hospitals throughout the United States. Our team is bright, talented, passionate and always willing to help you with whatever you may need. Our website features hundreds of enabling devices that makes life easier to all those who require them. So... Give yourself a grip on INDEPENDENCE today!

More Episodes:

Student Recreation Sports, Music & Art Resources

Recreation Links
AMC Sensory Friend Films

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