October 2017  

          A LABBB Collaborative  Newsletter

    Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities       for  students with special needs 
2017 Reunion Dance
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Reunion Video
Reunion 2017: Danny's Story is Happening More Than We Know
The LABBB graduates were flowing into the Crestview ballroom on Friday evening, September 22. They were all smiling, parents were mingling with LABBB staff and other LABBB graduates, and the vibe was electric! Over 200 LABBB graduates attended the 2017 LABBB Reunion.

As past graduates checked in at the desk, Paula and I were taking pictures and we trying to tweet them out as fast as we could. Paula knows everyone's name, whether they graduated in 1986 or 2017. I notice on my phone that the LABBB Board of Directors' Chairperson, Eric Conti, is retweeting them. It is amazing because I also noticed that the LABBB Board Chair, prior to Dr. Conti, Maureen LeCroix, is also retweeting pictures. Jonathan DaSilva is also retweeting. Jonathan is the regional manager for CVS. We have developed a relationship with CVS over the couple of years for work training opportunities for our students. He was also a keynote speaker at our 2017 high school graduation. Many others from the LABBB community are retweeting too.

The graduates are all dressed up and ready to connect with their friends. Graduates were eager to talk, give you a hug, or or shake your hand. Colin McNabb, for some reason was calling me "Skip", and he was telling me how he enjoyed my men's group classes. Robert Devlin was talking with me about the gym class I taught in the small gym at Clarke Middle School when LABBB had a program there. That was 1989! He also asked if I have seen Beth M, who was a vocational counselor; he had a crush on her. Doug Murray reminded me about the time he came into my house in Arlington and vacuumed my living room. The interesting part was that I was not home when he did this (I always wondered how he got in). James Saunders was telling me how he was going to be a grandfather. Chris Burch was apologizing to me about missing last year's reunion. Nick Duchi asked me, well, let me think, about 50 questions and there was only one question I couldn't answer, "Where is Billy Brincklow tonight?" Nick would be a great on-the-scene reporter. Richard Spillane, every reunion dance, says that he wants us to order LABBB graduation rings, but this time he had another idea about putting together a yearbook album of LABBB's 43 years; I admit I couldn't quite follow it. Jonathan Sharp was in perfect form. Some things never change, and I am glad they don't. 

My intention this year was to go to the reunion dance and ask as many students as possible these four questions: 1. How old are you? 2. Where are you living? 3 Are you working? 4. What do you do socially / do you see friends? For the most part, I did what I set up to do, but it got a bit confusing at times, and before I could finish, I would get interrupted by someone jumping into the conversation. I was able to get a handful of these questions on video and you will see them in the reunion video above. 

Danny wanted to talk. I could tell something was on his mind. He was being incredibly polite and patient and I eventually got to talk with him. His story impacted me the most. I have been talking about stories like Danny's for the past year and a half ad nauseam. It saddens me every time, and on my drive home I couldn't help but think how Danny is going to do in the future. We got interrupted a few times when people tried to join in the conversation and Danny would sometimes blurt out, "We are talking here!"

Danny is 39 years old, about to turn 40. When he was at LABBB, I always remember him telling us how independent he was going to be. He wanted everyone to treat him as he was an independent adult and he definitely had the potential. Danny comes across as someone who is intense, and he very rarely smiles, but Paula got a great picture of him smiling that evening! He is a very deep thinker, and he really cares about relationships even though this is a challenge for him. Every time I see him, he says hello and engages in conversation. He is a nervous person and you can see it in his body language. Danny listens intently to to what you say, even though he doesn't make direct eye contact. Danny has had many jobs over the years; he enjoys work. He can certainly get a job, but he can't keep a job for a significant amount of time. 

Danny started to tell me about how he is too attached to his parents. He said, "I don't know why; my mother and father always say that I need to live on my own, but I could never do it. I am too attached to them." I started to ask him if he would be willing to try to live on his own in a group home, and he was shaking. I said, what is wrong?" He said, "My father passed away! I don't know what happened, it is unexplainable." He continued to say, "I am too attached to my parents and now my father is gone. My father told me that I needed to live on my own because I am not going to be here forever." His father passed just a month ago.  

Danny told me that he was living in a group home two times a week. He said that he was having a hard time transitioning to living there full time and our conversation changed to discussing how he would go from two to three times a week. I said to him, "Danny I bet if you tried to live there for a full week you could do it, maybe you can go home on weekends to visit your mom." He kept on saying, "I know, but I wish I wasn't so attached to my parents. I thought I was more independent." 

Danny is angry with himself. Angry that he isn't as independent as he wants to be. We did not talk about it, but I could tell he is fearing the day his mom is gone.  

Walking away from the reunion dance is somewhat painful. There are other students struggling. Many graduates are still living at home and I know many of them could be extremely successful living in a group home situation. I am afraid that I am going to hear more stories like Danny's. My hope is that we can have an impact in LABBB to connect students and families to consider group home living.

The graduates and families are all from our Tribe. They are coming to the reunion and they feel connected to something. They are connected to people, and this is one community they can rely on. It is a community in which they feel comfortable. There are others out there, and we need to find a way to get in touch with them so they can join in these events. 

I received a call from a parent a few days prior to the reunion. Her daughter is 35 years old, she said, "Patric, I heard LABBB is going to open group homes. I want to be part of it!" That is music to my ears! She is thinking about the future and she knows what she needs to do. She came close to having her daughter live in a group home, but pulled out because she felt that she wasn't ready. This has been on her mind for many years, and she is ready now. 

Danny's story is a reminder to keep our mission going post 22. If Danny has work and social connections, he will be happier. This can be solved by living in a group home, especially for students whose parents are aging. You can see that the students living in group homes are connected, they feel part of a family, and their social life is intact.

LABBB High School Open House: Wednesday, October 18, 6:30pm-8:00pm

Everyone in the LABBB Community is invited to come and join our High School Open House. The open house will be held on Wednesday, October 18, from 6:30pm-8:00pm at the Lexington High School. 

Please come and visit our classrooms, community sites, and our partners which include organizations such as Amplifi (Adaptive Music), ICEI (Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative), Best Buddies, PAL's and many, many more. 

Your son or daughter does not have to be attending a High School Program; all of our parents are welcomed. Please come and connect with the LABBB Community. You can ask questions about possible programs your son or daughter can attend in LABBB when they enter high school. 

Reverse the Curse: A Fish Story
By: Mrs. Farley's Class
After many years of unsuccessful class pets, Mrs. Farley's class at Lexington High School  welcomed a beautiful blue beta fish on Tuesday, September twelfth. 
A vote was taken to name the fish.  The options were Raffi (as a throwback to the students' favorite childhood singer) or blue, in reference to his color. The standings were 50/50, until a final vote broke the tie in favor of Raffi. 
Joe Taranto, a class assistant, remarks, "I look forward to seeing Raffi every morning, and he lping the students care for him.  Seeing how happy he is in the classroom makes my day."
Fish have been shown to aid in mindfulness, and Mrs. Farley's class is looking forward to a long and happy future with their new fish class member.
For those concerned, Charlie, the class labrador is doing well.  When asked to comment about Raffi the fish, Charlie drooled and wagged his tail. 

Falling into Learning
By: Sarah Bennett
Fall is off to a great start in room 106 at Francis Wyman!
We started a literacy program for AAC users with the help of our speech pathologist, Amanda Scheriff, and it's been a great way to introduce core words to the students using their different communication devices. The program is designed to focus on one book each week, and 2-6 core words, as well as a letter of the week. The students start by taking a "picture walk" through the story and are introduced to the core words of the week. Students then work to find the core words in their respective devices, and continue to work on locating the words on their devices throughout the week. After that, they practice listening for those core words in the story, and work on identifying and pairing the words together to communicate in a functional way. For example, I see, what and you, can make "I see." "What do you see?" or "What do I see?" 
The students then complete different activities throughout the week where they continually incorporate their core words and the letter of the week. This includes the letter sound, words that begin with that letter, and identifying who and what from each book of the week.
Some other great things that are happening include inclusion with the first graders at Francis Wyman! The students are participating in many inclusion opportunities, such as gym, music, art, and library. They are also participating in recess with the 1st grade, and occasionally join them for lunch in the cafeteria. I had the opportunity to go and speak to the 1st grade classes, and introduced them to my students and showed them how the students communicate, and explained a little bit about how they learn and move around. It has been amazing and heart warming to now see the first graders say hello to my students in the hallway, wave to them excitedly when they enter specials, and ask to sit with them at lunch.
Exciting things have been happening in and out of the classroom, and I'm looking forward to what the rest of the year brings!

LABBB Transition Department News: Mindfulness at the Work Site
By: Karen Scopetski

One thing that I really like about my job is that I get to teach what I want to learn. As a Transition Instructor, I take groups of students to their assigned community sites.  At LABBB, all teachers and instructors are encouraged to bring mindful practices into the classrooms and workplaces. Mindfulness is something I am excited to learn more about, especially since it can be practiced anytime and anywhere. 

At two worksites that I oversee,  Bina Farm and Meadow Mist Farm , adopting mindful practices is natural.  Starting our day in a mindful way helps us practice the simple and powerful technique of noticing the present moment.  Approaching Bina Farm , we take in the landscape dotted with horses grazing in their paddocks.  I often take a deep audible breathe and say something like "Wow, look at the beautiful horses." The students then stare quietly with full attention.  At Meadow Mist, we begin our day in a similar mindful way.  Getting out of our van, we notice the flowers surrounding a farmer's porch. This is a place we can return to for breaks at times throughout the day.  We often take a moment to look around and see something familiar and new.

Mindfulness can be active or contemplative.   Fresh air and exercise are a part of farm life.  There are opportunities to do hardy chores or meditative tasks. One day at Meadow Mist, we were asked to transport young turkeys to a bigger space since they were growing.  We learned how to pick them up, which required us to be focused and active in order to quickly secure the legs of the young turkeys. Once we had the proper grasp, we had to immediately pull the youngling close to our chest and say soothing words, rocking the turkey in our arms as if holding a baby.  The only way to keep the turkey feeling safe and calm was to be mindful and aware while walking the turkey to their new home.       

Finding purpose in our work helps us feel a connection to the work.  Mindfulness comes more naturally when the purpose is clear and when we understand the value of what we are doing.  It's easy to be mindful at a farm because nature calls us to be mindful.  Welcoming employers inspire us to share in their passion.  Often, sitting by animals after doing chores that benefit the animals provides a deep feeling of satisfaction.  We learn together and we notice that being mindful feels good.

Process Art at Ottoson
By: Peggy Sheehan
When we do art projects in our classroom, it can be fun and freeing to use open-ended art processes.  This allows students to explore and create freely, without trying for any specific outcome.  It can be a good way to explore tools and materials, and everyone's art is unique and original.  

The activities can provide opportunities to practice fine and gross motor skills and coordination in a relaxed way.  Ottoson students recently participated in a splatter paint activity.  It was lots of fun, and this particular process gives everyone a chance to participate in the "cleanup process" too.
Minuteman Senior Service Organization Volunteer Appreciation Ice Cream Social
By: David Sainato
Throughout the school calendar year, LABBB students participate weekday mornings assisting with preparation and packaging of meals that are delivered to homebound seniors through Minuteman Senior Service Organization.

Pictured below, during a recent volunteer appreciation ice cream social held at The Lexington Community Center, are LABBB Dining Assistants: 

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

Recreation Updates

The LABBB Recreation Department has started the school year in full force.  Each of the following has had their first trip: Monthly Movies, Mini Golf, Around Town Dining, and PLAYBILL. Weekly Bowling, Boxing, and  Wednesday Recreation have had multiple meetings.  We have a good number of students doing something at least once a week and/or once a month with LABBB.  Most are doing multiple activities, which is great to see.  

The LABBB Reunion Dance was held September 22.  We had 210 people attend this fun and very emotional event.  The graduates look forward to the dance a year in advance.  People plan their vacations so that they won't miss the LABBB Reunion.  Everyone is always excited to see old friends and catch up.  Our oldest graduate in attendance was from the LABBB class of 1986, Maryanne Ziegler.  We even have a LABBB graduate expecting a grandchild this month!   Many graduates live independently, work, and drive themselves.  It is great to hear their stories about what they are doing post LABBB.   The LABBB staff look forward to this event as much as the graduates.  

Access Boston Sport Recreation Fair: Saturday, October 26
Click here for more information: Sports Fair


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

In episode #7 we are joined by Assistive Technology Specialist Rachel Kuberry. We have known and worked with Rachel for many years in LABBB. Tune in to listen to Rachel talk about her approach to assistive technology for students with special needs. Rachel adds a fresh perspective on AT and gives us some insight into how she collaborates with students, parents and teachers. Rachel has a unique style of communication to talk about the brutally honest truth about AT. She brings a blend of personal experience, humor, research and data which makes conversation with Rachel fun and engaging. We have met many professionals who have built a rapport with Rachel and everyone has been inspired by her knowledge and passion of AT. In the end, these professionals have been more successful at 'implementation' which is the ultimate goal of using assistive technology tools.
 Therapeutic Skating

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: AnnSeamans@aol.com or 781-275-8381
(MMArc) Minute Man Arc Afternoon Recreation Afternoon Recreation & Friday Nights (16+yrs), Darcie Heller: dheller@minutemanarc.org or C:978-201-2481/W: 978-287-7936 

(TILL) Toward Independent Living & Learning Travel:  Springboard Club, Dedham, high independence, Dale Belcher: Dale.Belcher@tillinc.org or 781-302-4619 (RARA) Recreational Adult Resource Association, Lowell Contact: Office@RARAagency.org or 978-453-5598 
Riverside Community Care: DDS Family Support Center, Woburn Kaley Stoner: kstoner@riversidecc.org or 781-686-6073  Lifelinks - DDS Family Support Center, Chelmsford, Rachel Ward Sullivan: wardsullivan@lifelinksinc.net or 978-349-3040  *verify current + open to public 

Greater Marlborough Programs Inc - Social & Recreation (DDS Family Support), Marlborough Jim Karami: Jim@gmpinc.org or 508-485-4227 ext. 1006 
Echo Enrichment, Burlington, Mary Ann Perreira,echonews@echoenrichment.com or 781-640-9351 
Trips R Us, Framingham, Mike Graham: mike@tripsrus.org or 508-405-0999 

Alternative Leisure (ALCS), Bedford, Drew Bilillies: alctrips@aol.com or 781-275-0023 
Music Makes Me Happy Chorus, Lexington, Marsha Martin: Marsha@mmmh-singers.org 
Concord Recreation, Anna Wood: awood@concordma.

Sudbury Therapeutic Recreation, Amber Forbes: ForbesA@sudbury.ma.us or 978-639-3257 

Belmont (SPORT) Special Programs Heidi Barbiero:  recreation@belmont-ma.gov  or 617-993-2760 

(SNAP) Special Needs Arts Program Chorus & Art, Lexington Contact: info@snaparts.org or 781-325-8025

(GWArc) Greater Waltham Arc Recreation/Plus: Mike Mullins: Recreation@gwarc.org or 781-899-1344 x4120  Newton Therapeutic Recreation w/ Newton Athletes Unlimited, NewtonMark Kelly: mkelly@newtonma.gov or 617-796-1527 
Kids in Disability Sports (K.I.D.S.), Lowell, Info: info@kidsinc.us or 866-712-7799 
Access Sport America, Acton, BettyMiller: Betty@accessportamerica.org
Burlington Therapeutic Recreation, Burlington, Laurel Rossiter:
CTRS@burlington.org, 781-270-1937

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