November 2017  

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

    Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities       for  students with special needs 
LABBB 2017 Halloween Party! 
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
The Woodland House Experience

LABBB has taken another step forward in creating an opportunity to help our students achieve our mission. We are dedicated to giving our students the best resources to learn skills in the most inclusive environments. This is what we believe will help them be as independent as possible. 

Starting on December 1, LABBB will be renting a house in Lexington on Woodland Road. We are doing this in partnership with TILL (Toward Independent Living and Learning). This house is located in the heart of Lexington, right outside the center, on "Meriam Hill." We will have complete access to this house Monday through Friday. Our students will learn the skills needed to function and live in a home, with easy access to their community. 

For many years we have been discussing the opportunity to access a house in our community. Our success is measured by how independent a student becomes, and this learning environment will make our goal even more attainable.

The Woodland house will have two purposes: 

1. TRAC (Transition Readiness Activities in the Community) : We will be using this house Monday through Friday for our TRAC program. Students will be working right inside the house, and we will use our expertise and curriculum to teach group home living and Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skills. 

2. Respite:  This house will also offer respite on weekends and vacations for students. LABBB and TILL will partner on this service, and we are currently developing a model and curriculum. We will give you more information when we have finalized the details. 

We are also considering making this a requirement for LABBB graduation. A student would have to complete a 5-day overnight stay in the house, with support staff, to meet their graduation requirements. We have not come to a definitive decision on this, and we will seek input before moving forward.

We want to encourage students and families to look at independent living options in the future. When students have this opportunity to learn these skills and utilize them in a real life setting, it is the ultimate model for success. 

We look forward to beginning this exciting project!

Omar's World of Classic Comics, Toys and Souvenirs
By Kristin Spinosa & Donna Goodell
Imagine a store located in Lexington center, where comics, toys, and souvenirs were sold. It's not there yet, but imagine no more! This store is being created by a LABBB family, with the intention of LABBB being a part of its management and operations. A true family business. This is a dream and a vision that a LABBB family has had for many years. Everyone in the LABBB Community is extremely excited for this to become a reality.

Omar is a LABBB student who will be graduating this spring. He has attended LABBB since he was in Middle School. For many years, Omar has had an interest in comics. This is his passion. And now, as he transitions into adulthood, Omar will be able to live and breath his passion every day!

Omar and his family have a transition plan that includes a specific vision. When Omar graduates, he will own his own comic (and accessories) store. It will be called Omar's World of Classic Comics, Toys, and Souvenirs, and it  will be opening in downtown Lexington in January of 2018. Omar and his family will be hiring various staff members, but they will also be partnering with LABBB! Omar's store will be considered a LABBB Community Site where students can participate in an Internship Experience and practice a variety of employment-related skills.

Last month, a LABBB team met with Mr. and Mrs. Masood to discuss the details of their business. The Masoods, fresh off of signing the lease on the store, came in with incredible excitement about getting the business started. The Masoods have left no stone unturned. They have investigated from start to finish and have all the plans in place to move forward, and the #LABBBtribe is excited to be a part it!

Compute This!
By: Michael Bernardo & Jessica Sherwood
This fall, Mr. Bernardo's class has been working on emailing in their computer class.  At the start of the year, the students set up their own email and password, navigating the process with the help of staff.  The students are learning safety around sending and receiving emails, who to email, how often to send emails, what content is expected to send to specific people, appropriate greetings and salutations, and the importance of not sharing your passwords with people other than parents.  The students enjoyed a power point presentation to enhance the lesson, covering such topics as: what email is used for (keeping track of homework, notifying teachers, keeping track of events), who to send emails to, and social expectations around email (such as emailing once and waiting for a response, not emailing strangers, and not abusing email).  

The students have completed pre-lesson worksheets testing their knowledge on these topics.  Throughout the semester, we will continuously re-visit the information and we will be completing the same worksheet to re-test their knowledge gained on these topics.  The students will also complete typing games and typing lessons to improve their dexterity and typing speed.  The website they use is and it offers free access to typing lessons, helping children learn proper typing skills, as well as free typing games to practice these skills.  The games are fun and engaging, and the students enjoy them. 

E-mailing is just one part of our weekly class.  The class will also learn about using Microsoft Word and basic computer skills.  The students also learn about how to safely surf the internet and use search engines effectively in order to find the desired information.  The students use search engines to research new recipes to use in our weekly cooking group.  They also look up and compare the cost of items required for our cooking groups.  We anticipate an exciting year ahead for our computer class!
Andrew and Derek get a Job: Great things happen when the #LABBBtribe pulls together
By: Kristin Dailey
It is the goal of LABBB's Transition Department to continuously be 'on the look-out' for new potential community partners - whether it be a new Volunteer Work or Internship Experience at a local business, or a possible employment opportunity for one (or more) of our students. Our outreach definitely leads to new relationships, but it also enlightens local community partners about our program, its purpose, and the benefits of partnering with LABBB.

Last spring, Brian Walsh, one of our Transition Counselors, went into Whole Foods in Woburn to begin yet another community partnership. After several attempts to coordinate schedules, a successful time and date was discovered, and Mr. Walsh and Mr. Shadeed, Store Manager, had the chance to connect. Brian explained our existing partnerships with other local Whole Foods stores (Bedford and Cambridge), but continued to explain his current wish of seeking employment for students in the future, as many have expressed interest. After learning about LABBB, Mr. Shadeed stated that he would absolutely welcome applications from students who are interested in employment!

A short while later, one of Mr. Walsh's LABBB Burlington High School students, Andrew, showed interest in working at Whole Foods. Andrew had previously participated in a LABBB Internship Experience at Whole Foods in Cambridge for several months, and wanted to seek employment at the Woburn store, as it was his hometown. Andrew applied, using Mr. Walsh as a reference. After speaking with Mr. Walsh as a follow-up to their initial conversation, Mr. Shadeed offered Andrew an interview, which he attended independently. Next was the orientation process. Knowing Andrew's learning style, Mr. Walsh requested that he attend the orientation in four sessions, rather than one. Mr. Shadeed agreed, and once Andrew completed the orientation, he was awarded the job! Andrew was provided with support during the orientation from his family, Mr. Walsh, and a Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Counselor. Andrew currently maintains a two-day per week schedule, one afternoon and one weekend day per week. A true example of incredible teamwork!

Just recently, another one of Mr. Walsh's LABBB Burlington High School students, Derek, experienced a similar success story! Derek's father had been trying to find Derek employment, and Mr. Walsh shared his experience with Andrew. Derek submitted an application, with assistance from his father, and completed an interview, as well as the orientation, on his own. Mr. Shadeed requested support for Derek during his first few shifts. LABBB provided this through a combination of Mr. Walsh and Mr. Ward, a LABBB Burlington High School staff. Derek continues to be happily employed at Whole Foods in Woburn. Another hometown employment accomplishment!

These two success stories truly illustrate that when the #LABBBtribe all work together, great things happen! And in the words of Derek, "we have a blast!" 

Congratulations, Andrew and Derek!
Clinical Corner: We Are All Just Trains
By: Kaitlin Taylor
Our emotions are a tunnel and we are just trains moving through them. Recently, I read a blog post that discussed this topic and it resonated greatly. It reminded me of the many times I have encountered a student in the middle of a behavioral episode. These behavioral episodes have involved everything from crying, to yelling, to hitting, to ripping papers. They have been caused by being asked to work on a challenging problem; being told to wait 10 more minutes until lunch time; or realizing they left their favorite stuffed animal on the van when they got to school. Each time, I have had that impulse to say, "It's okay! Don't worry! We can fix it!" Each time, however, I have paused and remembered one of the first things I learned at my time working at a camp for students with emotional and behavioral difficulties, "Be compassionate first. Fix the problem second." Working through an emotional conflict or a frustrating situation can be extra challenging for many of our students. Sometimes, they have a level five reaction to a level one problem. It is our job as educators and caregivers to help guide them safely through those level five reactions and help them develop a plan to fix the problem, whatever the level, when they have returned to a level one state of mind. The next time your student has a level five reaction, try to remember a few things:
  1.  Whatever the actual size of a problem, it feels like a five to them at              this moment.
  2.  Take some deep breaths and model a calm, safe body and voice.
  3.  Give them space and time to calm down at their own pace. Don't rush it!
  4.  When they are ready, work through the problem and develop a plan to fix it if you can. If you can't, work on a plan to help them move forward.
  5.  Implement the plan. If the plan involves practicing a skill, practice it       regularly.
Bats at Fox Hill
By: Rachele Leonardo, OT and Aretha Cohen, SLP

The LABBB administration sent out an alert late Tuesday night that a coven of bats has been located at Fox Hill Elementary School. "Every effort is being made to remove the bats," assured Program Coordinator, Jeff Caritey.  "We don't know where they came from," class assistant Susan Burke reported, "One minute I was reading the class, Bats at the Library, and the next I was fighting bats away with a broom."  But one student had an idea, "we made them in SPOT group!"

Bedford High Out & About
By: Meaghan Henneberry

Starting in October, the Bedford High LABBB students began venturing out in the community using public transportation.  It has been a huge success!  On October 6th, we took 12 students from the Bedford High campus to Lexington Center.  The students used their time management skills to walk from the high school to the T bus stop in Bedford Depot. Some students downloaded the MBTA App on their phones to track the bus. This is a fantastic interactive learning tool that supports one's trip from start to the end destination. Prior to walking to the bus stop, students used functional math skills to count change of $1.70 twice. Counting for the cost to ride the MBTA round trip. Students that did not use change, used their Charlie Card.

When we arrived in Lexington Center, the students used executive functioning skills by deciding how they would utilize their time at the stores they visited. We all compromised and stopped at the library, CVS, Catch A Falling Star, and Via Lago. When Mario's and Bertucci's opened, we placed our lunch order and continued to window shop before we picked up our lunch.

The Bedford High LABBB students enjoyed running into old friends from Lexington LABBB in downtown Lexington center. Students work hard to earn "that special trip" into the community with their peers. In the end, it means so much to them. Students truly value their experience and remember "that time" into the community.

Happy Fall
By: Liz McNulty
Happy fall, everyone! We've had a lot of fun this past month working on reading, math, and science activities all based on fall! We have been reading books like There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some LeavesPumpkin Picking, Autumn Leaves, and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat, to help facilitate lessons and vocabulary.

We worked on identifying the life cycle of leaves, apples, and pumpkins. To make a multisensory learning environment, we played movement games (going on a leaf hunt around the classroom), answered "WH" questions during a read aloud/watched videos of the stories, made graphs after collecting leaves, and science experiments where we dissected real apples, leaves, and pumpkins. We also played a vocabulary game that incorporated movement, math, and turn taking! During our matching game, a student rolled the dice, picked up a picture/word, and stated what the picture was. The student took the number that they rolled as an opportunity to try and find the matching picture. The students also enjoyed reverse inclusion every Tuesday after lunch in our classroom. Reverse inclusion involves students from the general education classroom coming into our classroom to participate in our lessons and activities. Last week we made "ghost rockets" (link is below), and everyone had so much fun!

We will continue our fall activities and lessons up through November, where we will talk about pilgrims, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and a science unit on states of matter! I can't wait!

The PALS Club
BY: Caitlyn Martinage, PALS Co-President at Burlington High School

The PALS club kicked off the school year with a meeting on October 12, 2017 with their LABBB friends. The meeting consisted of getting to know you activities. The high school students and LABBB friends formed groups and answered questions and went on a mini personal scavenger hunt. There was lots of chatter, laughter, and interaction.  This was a perfect ice breaker activity to get to know one another.  There were delicious snacks donated by the PALS members.  
This was the first of the monthly activities. The PALS club is looking forward to many more fun and exciting meetings!

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

Recreation Updates

Every year, LABBB has monthly dances. The Reunion Dance is the biggest.  The second biggest is the Halloween dance each October.  

This year, we had 80 LABBB high school students attend the Halloween dance, and at least 80 Best Buddies from our Lexington, Arlington and Bedford Programs. This was a record number.   
The costumes were stupendous! We had a lot of doctors in the house, a T-Rex, an Elf, a variety of superheroes, Disney characters, first responders, and scary folks. Enjoy the pictures of some of the attendees. 

For two hours, there were many smiles and much laughter and dancing. Some students never stopped dancing and some left exhausted, but thrilled to have been a part of this great event.
We look forward to another big turnout at the Thanksgiving Dance on November 16.

LABBB Podcast: The Reality and Brutally Honest Truth About Special Needs Planning

Michael Weiner is a financial advisor in Boston. He is intimately familiar with available benefits and supports, and provides families with guidance regarding how to integrate those supports into their unique circumstances, and create a sound financial solution to help provide the resources their children and families need throughout their lives.

He is currently the Treasurer and a board member at the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and sits on his local Department of Developmental Services advisory council.
Michael resides in Medfield, MA with Susan, his wife of more than thirty years. Their eldest son, Ben, lives in Washington D.C., and their youngest, Zack, currently resides in Brookline with a roommate and adult caregiver. Although Zack has an intellectual disability and requires significant support, he is working a full time job, and is an active participant in his community.

More Episodes:

2017-2018 LABBB Recreation Brochure
Click on the image below to view the digital version of the brochure and sign up for LABBB recreational events!

Save the Date: 2017 LABBB Best Buddies Craft Fair

Parent Resources
  • LABBB 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

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