May 2018

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities         for  students with special needs 
2018 Best Buddies Prom
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Make the Connection: Calling All LABBB Parent Alumni!

Our mission goes beyond 22. You will come to realize this when your son or daughter is getting close to graduation. You will look back and understand that each component of LABBB's mission will be essential to lead a meaningful life. We hear too many times that our graduates are home without social opportunities or meaningful activities to keep them busy during the week and weekends. Our initiative is to change all this. 

We know this because we keep in touch with many of our graduates. We have an annual reunion dance, and parents of graduates still reach out to us for guidance. We want you to know that when your son or daughter has graduated, you are not cut off, you will still have a familiar place to go to get support. 

"What will your son or daughter's day look like after they graduate? What will they do on the weekends? Who will they socialize with? Where will they live?" We heard this loud and clear from Michael Wiener who has presented at our parent nights and has met with many of our parents. When parents have met with him, they  have been enlightened as I can speak for all the parents who have reached out to Michael for planning advice. They have emailed me to say how important this was for them to plan for the future of their son or daughter. Michael will also be presenting at the LABBB Transition Information Fair on June 6. I highly encourage you to attend. We are talking about all LABBB parents, starting in our pre-school and elementary programs all the way through our high school programs. 

I have been holding Executive Director Chats for the past year and these chats have been some of the most fulfilling and dynamic conversations I have had with parents. We talk about difficult issues, we share experiences, we learn from one another. These issues do not need to overwhelm you. Take action as early as possible and connect with parents on the same journey. 

We are now starting a LABBB Alumni Parent Group and we will be meeting on Friday, June 1 at 10:15-11:30 (rm. 237) at the Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Rd. If you are interested in attending please RSVP 

We want our parents to have resources to continue to pursue our mission after 22. We will create resources with parents who have experienced life after 22 to help support each other and the families that are currently part of LABBB. 

In LABBB, we have stopped thinking 3-22. We now think 3 to life. We need to confront the reality of, "Where is my child going to live, Where is my child going to go for social opportunities, Where is my child going to work, and Who is going to structure their day after LABBB?"  

We are dedicated to helping you on this journey. Our parent alumni group will help you with all of this. Our transition fair will help you with this. I implore you to start planning early and don't go it alone. 

We are here to provide you with support long after your son or daughter has graduated from LABBB. Life can be good with the right planning. 

LABBB Transition Information Fair: Be There or Be Unprepared!
By: Kristin Dailey
It is completely true that the Transition Planning Process is worrisome - specifically for students and parents. It is imperative to begin thinking about the process as early as possible. It is never too early to start - even for families who have children in Elementary School. The process will become less overwhelming and easier to navigate as it becomes more familiar. Planning for your child's future is an enormously important part of your child's educational journey. When discussing the Transition Planning Process, knowledge equals power!
LABBB Collaborative is proud to announce our first annual Transition Information Fair on June 6, 2018, from 6:00-8:30, at 15 Depot Square in Lexington.  We are lucky enough to have Michael Weiner, a Financial Planner who specializes in working with families with children with disabilities, coming to discuss Guardianship and Social Security, and Dafna Krouk-Gordon, the Executive Director of TILL (Towards Independent Living and Learning), coming to discuss various aspects of Independent Living for individuals with disabilities. Our Transition Information Fair will also include booths specific to the following topics: Day Program Options, Recreation, Transportation, Housing, SSI/SSDI, State Representative information, Guardianship/Conservatorship, and Amplifi. Please join us, and spread the word!

Woodland Open House: Wednesday, May 30

Adaptive Biking
By: Nancy Richard, LABBB PT
Spring is here! Hopefully soon, we will all be able to get outside to enjoy the weather. It is a great time of year to ride a bicycle. Biking can be tricky for many of our students, but with adaptations, most can enjoy this fun fitness activity. My son has special needs and we tried a great bike camp several years ago called, I Can Shine. Here is the link: I Can Shine This bike camp teaches kids how to ride without training wheels. For many, it was a huge success! For my son, it was a lofty and unattainable goal.

A few months later, he tried a friend's adaptive tryke and it was a hit! We ended up ordering his tryke through a company called Amtryke . Amtryke has reasonably priced adapted trikes. There are also other reputable companies that make adapted trikes if you search on the internet. There are even options for kids with hemiplegia, paraplegia and quadriplegia. This bike has opened up my son's world. He can ride at a decent pace while I walk alongside him at a brisk pace. His came with a handle on the back in case I need to help with steering or stopping. We bike/walk to stores, the library, lunch, etc. It is definitely one of our favorite activities to do together. It is so beneficial for him, as it maximizes his strength, endurance, and keeps his weight at a healthy level.

Bike trials can be done at Franciscan Hospital PT department in Brighton. Trials are free,  although some families have made donations of $25-$50 to their adapted sports program.  To set up a trial you can contact :

Maria Fragala-Pinkham, PT, DPT, MS
Franciscan Children's
30 Warren Street
Brighton, MA 02135
617-254-3800 dial 1 at the prompt then x2280
Please feel free to contact me if you are interested and would like any help with this process. My email is
Nancy Richard, LABBB PT
Clinical Corner:  Teens and Dangerous Levels of Cell Phone Use
By: Kristine Lacey, Program Coordinator
Over the past year, I have been more and more interested and perplexed by the amount of cell phone use and social media interruptions that are part of our students' lives every minute of the day. I have observed students and adults completely "connected" at all times of day regardless of what they "should" be engaged in; from crossing a busy street while texting, to sitting in class at school with phones on, to seeing students with friends during a break, at a game or just having lunch, but no one communicating with one another, only with a device. I found the following article quite relevant to my concern with the outcome of this obsession. The following article is from Psychology Today.  There is also a new book "How To Break Up With Your Phone", by Catherine Price.

Posted Jan 16, 2018

My inbox has been inundated with reports that our kids are literally dying because of excessive cell phone use. From an editorial in the Lancet to my local radio station, the news is alarming. In many cases, I'm told, our children are on their phones eight or more hours a day, with experts saying it should be limited to just two. Jean Twenge's new book Igen has been front and center insisting that we do something and do it quick. Kids are using their cell phones way too much and putting their mental health at terrible risk. National surveys are showing that kids today are more anxious than ever before, with spiking rates of depression and suicide. Twenge suspects that this uptick in problems (which every mental health professional knows is happening) occurred at just about the same time as cell phones became a common accessory for most teens. Correlation doesn't imply causation, but in this case, one has to wonder if the very real increase in emergency room visits for mood disorders and self-reported anxiety among teens isn't a by-product of more accessible technology that both connects and isolates at the same time.

There is definitely something addictive about the ping of a text and the scrolling counter telling us how much others "like" us. It's made us all (children and adults) into gamblers, sitting in our bedrooms just like slots players sit in windowless casinos, forgetting the time of day, addicted to the next spin and the possibilities it brings.

There's more bad news too. Seems that with all that online addiction is also coming more bullying, which is only fueling our kids' anxiety. A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal by a group of researchers based mostly in Quebec, Canada, found that among a large sample of teens 59% reported moderate exposure to bullying, and 14% reported chronically high exposure to bullying, both in person and online. That's not a trend or a disease. At those rates, children's experiences of bullying are almost as common as high school graduation.

If all of this has made you depressed as a parent, it's time to think about what you (and others) can do to put the brakes on this spiraling chaos. Here's a few solutions that have made recent headlines.

Strategies for Parents
How about we as parents try some new strategies:

1. Model appropriate cell phone use. Start with what we can do. Leave our cell phones at the door. Turn them off at mealtime. Don't harass our kids with endless texts checking up on them. If we model restraint, maybe our kids will see it's possible.

2. Limit access. Stop paying for the darn phones. If your child is addicted, cut them off. A simple rule I hold to is that in general, when a child can afford a device they are likely responsible enough to have it. Let your child buy their own phone, their own data package, their own gaming systems. Hold back from giving them everything they think they need to be like every other kid and let them feel that lovely self-esteem boost of  knowing "I'm a little different" which could also translate into "I'm unique". The way I see it, if they're motivated to find work, and get themselves online, then they're less likely to have the time to become addicted to their phone.

3. Set routines and structure. No cell phone use at bedtime. Turn the phone off and put it away. Any addiction that triggers a change in brain functioning is going to be difficult to control as long as it's there at hand ready to light up our neural pathways. As parents our job isn't meant to be easy. It's meant to prepare children for life and that means telling them "No" when really, deep down, that's what they want to hear anyway.

4. Offer substitutes. Create opportunities for kids to keep busy. Give them chores and real responsibilities that matter to the family. Planning a winter vacation and they're coming along? Any 14-year-old with good net surfing skills can find a hotel on a beach, or scope out activities to do off site at the all-inclusive. Let's stop making our children's lives so easy and in the process offer them real diversions. Insist they are active an hour a day. Put them into activities and take away their cell phone. Oh there will be histrionics, but the end result will likely be a happier, more engaged child with the life skills and habits that will make them healthier more successful adults.

It's worth a try, isn't it?

This is an excerpt from the post. You can find the full post at the following URL

Bowling with Ottoson Middle School
By: Peggy Sheehan
This year, the Ottoson Middle School classroom has been going bowling once a week for our APE class. It was a new activity for some, but others were already old hands and ready to show off their skills right away. In addition to getting some physical activity, students have the opportunity to take turns, follow directions, and offer help to their friends. The students look forward to it every week!

LABBB AHS Restaurant Field Trips and Autism Eats!
By: Amanda Mortelette
While I have been teaching for 13 years, this is my first year at teaching at LABBB.  I have to say it has been a great experience so far! It has been great to see all the wonderful things that LABBB does for their students.  One of my favorite parts is getting the kids out into the community. About once a month, LABBB AHS takes a field trip, many times to a restaurant, especially in the winter months.   It is a great opportunity for all of our students to put many skills to use. Many students work on: ordering their food, waiting for food, having a calm body and quiet voice in the restaurant, and using their social skills.  

Some restaurants we have enjoyed:

Flatbread Company - Somerville
Red Robin - Burlington
Bertucci's - Cambridge
On the Border - Woburn
Chateau - Waltham
Chili's - Burlington

In addition, I think it is great for other people to see us in the community!  We have had great experiences at many local restaurants. I am always impressed with the kindness and patience others have!  Our favorite restaurant thus far has been Red Robin in Burlington. Great menu, friendly and accommodating staff, and endless fries - what's not to like!

Recently,  a collegue sent me this link: .   Autism Eats, founded by Lenard Zohn, is a place where all are welcome to eat!  This organization pairs up with area restaurants (in the video, Maggiano's in the Back Bay), and takes up a section of the restaurant. Prior to the event, they train the wait staff on how to deal with customers with Autism and adjust lighting and music to accommodate sensory issues.  The food is paid for in advance and is served buffet style, to avoid any wait. People feel connected and comfortable in this setting!

While we work on many skills at school to help our students be successful in the community, it is nice to see other's help accommodate and understand as well!

Poetry Month in Ms. Farrell's Class
By: Rose Farrell
Room 112 at LABBB Chenery has been celebrating National Poetry Month for the month of April! We have had a great time learning how to write poems and even created our own physical representations of poems we enjoyed hearing in class.
To start our poetry unit, we began with acrostic poems of our first names. We used adjectives to describe ourselves that started with each letter of our name. All the students really enjoyed this activity!
To incorporate Earth Day, we also created acrostic poems for the words "Earth" and "Recycle."

Our culminating activity for Poetry Month was "Poem in a Pocket Day" on April 26th. To participate in this in a way that works for all students, we started by reading poems aloud in class. Each poem had a symbol to represent its theme, such as a picture of a flower to represent the poem about buttercups and daisies. We read each poem aloud twice, and then chose our individual poems to put in our pockets by deciding between two or three picture representations.
Once students chose their poem, staff recorded the poem on a switch for them to read aloud to their classmates on Poem in a Pocket Day. We took turns asking each other about the poem we had in our pockets. All of the students loved reading aloud their poems to their classmates! Visitors to our classroom that day also enjoyed hearing our wide variety of poems.

After Poem in a Pocket Day, we made artistic representations of our poems. This was a great activity to use our fine motor skills and choice making abilities. Room 112 loves poetry!

'Performance LABBB' Presents: "Unity"

Lucky Punch Boxing & Fitness

Boston University Autism Research Study

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

Recreation Updates

The behind the scenes of LABBB/Best Buddies Special Olympics.

As you know, Special Olympics is a huge event. Its success cannot happen without months of planning. The leadership team begins meeting monthly in January then moves to smaller meetings as May approaches. We start by looking back at what was good or bad about last year's event. Changes always need to be made, even if the event was a success.
We discuss...
  • the registration process, including how to make the registration form easier to enroll students and how to get the online registration process to run seamlessly.
  • deadlines - Deadlines are an important part of ensuring success. We discuss setting specific deadlines for everything so enough shirts are ordered, food is available, vendors are paid, etc.
  • shirt colors for athletes and volunteers. You would think this could be done in five minutes, but this takes up a good portion of a meeting. We like to make sure the colors will look good with each other and the logos.
  • food, a map of the area, and getting Lexington Town officials, LABBB towns and volunteers involved.
The night before Special Olympics, we hold an information meeting with all of the Best Buddies. It is very impressive to see all the high school volunteers. Some are doing it for their fourth time and others for their first. They are just as excited as our LABBB students.

Those same teenagers are out of bed and back at the field house the next day by 7:15am, looking bright-eyed and ready to start the day. They can't wait to greet their athlete. The sad part is when an athlete, for whatever reason, is unexpectedly unable to participate. The buddy looks so disappointed and wants to know if they can have another buddy or what they can do for the day. They genuinely want to be a part of this event. We always find something for them so they can still be a part of such a fun event.

Fast forward to May 2, 2018, the day of our Special Olympics. So many volunteers (about 400), athletes (255), town officials, LABBB VIPs, state and local police, all want to be a part of "the best day ever." One state trooper stated he was honored to be there. Rene Rancourt mentioned that as long as he can, he will not miss this event.

It is a lot of work putting this event together, but the fun, excitement, success, and positivity of the day is so well worth it.

If you joined us this year, we hope you had a good time and thank you for your support. Enjoy the photos and join us next year.

Click on the image below to view the 2018 Special Olympics Slideshow

Upcoming Events:

  • 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

Special Olympics is celebrating its 50th year (1968-2018) and we had the opportunity to interview Mary Beth McMahon, President and CEO of the Special Olympics Massachusetts. We discuss the past, present, and future of the Special Olympics and how this organization is continuing to grow and evolve. LABBB has been involved with the Special Olympics since the late 1970's and we have a long history of bringing the games to our student athletes in collaboration with the Best Buddies organization. Paula Rizzo, LABBB Recreation and Integration Coordinator, joins us for this episode and she talks about her involvement with Special Olympics since she was in high school as a student leader. We were on location at Special Olympics Headquarters in Marlborough, MA for this episode, so tune in and learn more about the future of Special Olympics. Please visit the Special Olympics website for more information:

More Episodes:

Student Recreation Sports, Music & Art Resources

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