November 2019

A LABBB Collaborative        Newsletter
   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities         for  students with special needs 
2019 LABBB Halloween Dance!
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri

Can You Benefit From AFC or PCA?

Can your son or daughter benefit from ADL (Activities of Daily Living Skills) support in your home by a Caregiver? I am sure your first question is, "What is AFC, I don't know anything about it." You are not alone, this is a service that may benefit many of our families, but is under utilized.

If your student is eligible for AFC, a Caregiver can receive anywhere from $9,000-$18,000 per year to provide these services in your home. 

Here are the criteria when considering AFC for our families. 
  • Student must be 16 years old. 
  • They are unable to live alone because of medical, physical or mental health condition.
  • Requires daily supervision of assistance with one or more activities of daily living (ADL)
  • Must NOT require full time skilled nursing.
  • Must be eligible for MassHealth or Common Health.
The Caregiver can be a parent, but if a parent is seeking guardianship, then they need to have one parent be the guardian and the other parent becomes the designated Caregiver. Both parents cannot be the guardian of their son or daughter. It can be a sibling  if they live at home. 

Caregiver Criteria
  • Must be 18 years old.  
  • Can be family or non-family member.
  • Will need to document care services.
  • Requires  a yearly physical.
The caregiver will also receive ongoing support from a Registered Nurse and care manager. The RN and care manager can also provide training to the caregiver if needed. 

As you can see this could be an amazing resource for parents.

So how does a family get AFC services in their home or know if they are qualified? To begin, they can contact their local ARC in their area and see if they provide this service and they will answer all their questions. 

If a family is in the greater Boston area, they can contact: Barbara Dunker, AFC Program Director, at Opportunities for Inclusiion at and they can get their questions answered. 

I met with a person from Opportunities For Inclusion, and we also did a podcast about AFC that will be coming out soon. I inquired about AFC for my sister because she is requiring more ADL skills as she gets older. Unfortunately, if an adult with special needs lives in a group home they are not eligible for AFC services. 

Opportunities  for Inclusion will also be speaking about AFC at one of our parent nights in the early spring so this will be another opportunity to get more information. Our podcast on AFC will be out in mid-November.


For children under 16, you can look into services by PCA (Personal Care Assistance) for getting ADL skills in your home for your child. This is also provided by the local ARC's. I provided information for the Northeast ARC, but you can call any ARC in your area. 

Criteria for PCA
  • MassHealth/Medicaid eligible
  • Has a permanent or chronic disability that impairs their ability to perform activities of daily living without physical assistance
  • Needs hands-on/physical assistance with two or more activities of daily living
  • Has a prescription/authorization for personal care services from a Physician or Nurse Practitioner
To refer someone for the PCA program, call us at 978-762-0301 or use 
Northeast Arc's main phone number is 978-762-4878. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Expressive Arts at Burlington High
By: Rebecca Niman
This year we introduced a new class to the Burlington High schedule, Expressive Arts. This class is designed in a way that students recieve a basic introduction to different art mediums & techniques. Each month's lessons are centered around a particular topic which include an introductory lesson and subsequent exploration time in which students create individual art pieces. The first topic in September was "sculpture using sculpy," an easy to mold clay that is able to be "fired" in an oven. Students were shown how to create different marbling patterns, then molded the sculpy into magnets. The following week, using stamps, they made ornaments and learned how to use paint to create an antique effect on the sculpy. Drawing mediums and techniques was October's topic. During the first two weeks, students created 3D drawings then moved onto pastels and blending for the remainder of the month. Some of the upcoming topics will include: collage, scrapbooking, painting, and geometric drawing. Students appear to be enjoying this new addition and are even using some of the techniques they've learned during their free time. We are currently in the process of making an "art wall," a place to display student's art for everyone to enjoy!

Mindfulness & Yoga Moving Students at Bedford High LABBB
By: Meaghan Henneberry
Carving out periods of our day to reflect on ourselves and be aware of our breath and bodies has always been part of our curriculum here at Bedford. Lately, we have increased the frequency and length of our mindful practices, as the needs of our students has changed.

 Some mindfulness we incorporate in the classroom daily are balloon breathing (being in sync with our diaphragmatic rhythm), frequent movement breaks of walking, stretching, dancing using GoNoodle, coloring and drawing while listening to 580 frequency Hz rhythms, or playing nature sounds and relaxing piano music to calm the mind. This also helps set the tone for the next class. 

During Professional day, staff learned more about yoga and mindfulness. We benefited so much from the practice, we decided to incorporate it back into our students' day.  Although, yoga was not originally on the schedule, we found it was greatly needed and found it beneficial. Sometimes, as teachers, we are reminded, "being flexible" and "being open to change" is critical in creating a successful positive day. 

Sitting a majority of your day at a desk makes  your back and legs tight, which leads to trouble focusing. Studies have proven that being in tune with your physical body's needs and allowing the body to stretch and release tension can improve concentration and mood. Yoga postures are not always easy. Some students struggle more than others following the directions because staying on task can be a challenge. Thus, it is another reason we incorporate mindfulness into our daily routine. 

The purpose of mindfulness  is teaching our students it is okay and natural for his/her  mind to drift about random thoughts. Most importantly, we remind students that when he/she recognizes their mind is wandering, they must look within and do their best to return to the present moment. We teach, "Mindfulness with kindness", being aware of the present when everything else is moving around you.

Clinical Corner: 'Tis the season to be grateful!
By:  Cori Purcell
It is hard to believe another holiday season is almost upon us!  The holidays can be a joyous time for many; reveling in time spent with family and friends.  However, the holiday season can also bring about feelings of anxiety, sadness, or depression, which can sometimes be overlooked. Research indicates that one characteristic of the Thanksgiving holiday can improve mood: expressing gratitude!

Gratitude is recognition for what a person has or receives. Research suggests that expressing gratitude in our lives can help us feel more calm during this busy time of year. Consistent practice of this has been linked to increased feelings of happiness, improved health outcomes, resiliency, and stronger interpersonal relationships.

Below are some suggestions on how to practice gratitude:
Tell someone you appreciate or love them
Notice the beauty in nature
Keep a gratitude journal
Write a thank you note or thank someone in person for their help

For more information click on the links below:

Community Experiences at Chenery Middle School
By: Caroline Brown
The students in room 212 at Chenery Middle School have been very busy so far this school year! Along with the other activities that take us offsite, such as weekly swimming, cooking, and adaptive physical education classes, we also participate in weekly community outings.
While the students love these activities and think of them as fun field trips, there is also a functional educational component to each trip. Examples of recent trips include scavenger hunts in local stores to find various items, rounding prices to the next highest dollar, and identifying items that could be purchased with a real or dictated budget. Within the classroom, we are often working on money skills and functional reading, and these community trips provide the perfect opportunity to practice learned skills in their natural setting, thereby encouraging generalization of the aforementioned skills.
At the beginning of October, students went on a walk in the neighborhoods around Chenery. We completed a fall scavenger hunt, looking for different signs of autumn, and upon returning to school, made observations about select trees on Chenery's campus. As the month progressed, students made further observations about how those particular trees had changed over time as they prepared for colder weather.
Students in room 212 seem to enjoy the time they spend in the classroom, but they are always looking forward to additional adventures outside the classroom!

Community Trips and Following Recipes at Arlington High School
By: Michael Harrington
The students in the LABBB classrooms at Arlington High School have been working diligently to expand their communication skills and independent living skills. They've also found many opportunities to generalize those skills in community settings.
One of our classrooms recently went on a community trip to the Burlington Mall. Students practiced using their communication devices to make selections for lunch in the food court and to order their meals. The group also practiced community skills by waiting in line and paying for their food. Our students effectively navigated the mall at a busy time of day and transferred their communication and independent living skills to an environment much different than their classroom.
In addition to our community trips, our students have been exploring the topics of personal hygiene, community safety, and following multi-step recipes in our Speech/OT Groups. A recent favorite was making apple sauce. Our students followed a visual sequence of a recipe that included cutting apples, mashing them up, stirring them, and adding cinnamon.
We look forward to the additional learning opportunities we'll have over the course of the year!

LABBB Ottoson Fall Field Trip
By: Rose Farrell

The LABBB Ottoson classrooms took a great field trip to George Hill Orchards. First, we picked apples to use for apple cider. We mashed the apples in the big machine and then another big machine to squish them into cider! We went on a hayride and each got to pick a pumpkin. After the hayride we got to sample apple cider and apple cider donuts! It was a lovely fall activity! 

The Wellington Witch Potion!
By: Caitlin McDonough (SLP) & Sarah Ervin (OT)
  The students at Wellington Elementary had a great time during their Halloween themed Speech/OT group! As a group, we created a witch's potion. We had a lot of fun, but also worked hard in the process! We followed directions, such as "put in" and "give to ____", picked our favorite color to squeeze in, directed the teachers to "give" the cauldron, requested a turn, used bilateral hand coordination for mixing and pouring ingredients, and worked on grasping skills as we added ingredients like eyeballs and spiders to our potion. Our favorite part was watching the explosion at the end! Some of us loved the activity so much, that we directed our teachers to "go more" using our AAC devices to watch the explosion again (adding more vinegar to our baking soda base). The teachers were so impressed with our visual attention and social participation during the activity!

2019 LABBB Craft Fair

2019-2020 Parent Meetings

LABBB Evening Parent Meetings
During our LABBB parent meetings we discuss various topics related to programming, special needs planning, recreation, transition, post 22 planning, SSI, financial planning among many other topics.
Time: 7:00pm-8:15pm
Location: Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Rd., Lexington Ma.
*All parent meetings are the same evening as our monthly dances so you can drop of your son or daughter and attend the parent meeting.
October 24
November 21
January 16
February 27
March 26
April 30
May 28

Executive Director Chats
Executive Director chats are an extension of our evening parent meetings and for parents who cannot attend in the evenings.

Time: 10:00am-11:15am
Location: LABBB Central Office, 123 Cambridge Street, Burlington (Burlington High School)
September 26
October 31
December 5
February 6
March 19
May 7
LABBB Parent Alumni Meetings

Our parent alumni meetings are a great resource for parents who want to continue to be connected to the LABBB community. Many of our parents share their experiences and learn about future opportunities for housing, recreation and keeping their son or daughter socially engaged with peers.

Time: 10:00am-11:15pm
Location: LABBB Central Office, 123 Cambridge Street, Burlington (Burlington High School)
September 13
October 18
December 13
February 7
March 27
May 8
Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
Every year, LABBB holds monthly dances, the Reunion Dance, of course, is the biggest.  The second biggest is the Halloween dance each October. This year, the attendance at our Halloween Dance was 70 LABBB students and 40 Best Buddies.  

Smiles, laughter and dancing went on for two hours.  Some students never stopped dancing and many left exhausted but thrilled to have been a part of this tradition.  Everyone had a blast as usual.  

All students came in costumes with only a couple of duplicates. We had Wendy from The Addams Family, an Oompa-Loompa, from Willy Wonka, witches, fairies, a variety of superheros, Disney characters, first responders and scary folks.  They were all stupendous.

2019-2020 Recreation Brochure! 
Woodland Guest House Updates


A LABBB Podcast

In this episode we are joined by Lisa Symonds, Adapted Music Instructor, from Amplifi. In 2016, we recorded a podcast with Tom Byrne, Owner, and Heather Luhn, Director of Education, of the Real School of Music. The Real School of Music started a program called Amplifi which brings adaptive music instruction to students with special needs. This was a perfect opportunity for LABBB to be part of this project as we were looking to expand our music program and the collaboration was born. Lisa Symonds was our first instructor and she won over the hearts of LABBB Teachers, Parents, and the staff in the public schools with her passion for bringing music to our students. Lisa is devoted to the Amplifi mission and she is feeling and observing the outcomes of the students response to music. Her dynamic personality is energizing and inspirational and she has led the way to bringing music to all of the LABBB programs in our public schools. We talk about "Then" and "Now," a new Transition program we started this year using the Amplifi methodolgy, and talk about the future collaboration between LABBB and Amplifi.
Episode #15: Dyslexia and Working Your Strengths with Kathy Murphy 

Student Recreation Sports, Music & Art Resources

Bina Farm Center

LABBB Spirit Store is Open until November 27

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