October 2018

          A LABBB Collaborative        Newsletter

   Sharing best practices for promoting inclusive opportunities         for  students with special needs 
LABBB Recreational Activities 2018!
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
The Power of The Outdoors

Is there a better time of the year to be outdoors than the month of October?The clean crisp air, foliage, and perfect weather for walking or taking a bike ride will be gone before we know it. This is a special time of year in New England.

In addition to the seasons changing, as time moves forward, life is changing, socializing is  changing, communication is changing, and it is all being influenced by technology. How do we teach our students to navigate through this? It is hard enough for adults who need to learn to how to use Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Google Hangouts, or other ways to communicate for work. Technology can make paying attention more challenging as the skills we have taught for so many years, such as eye contact, are competing with our devices. We were once obsessed with teaching everyone how to use social media, are we now at the point where we need to unlearn it? 

Some of our students are struggling in this new world. How do they keep up?   Should we allow unlimited iPhone use because this is our world today, or do we limit it? How much is enough, how much is too much? Is this a contributor to our anxiety epidemic? 

There are no definitive researched-based answers to these questions, only theory, perceptions, and opinions. As parents, we struggle with how to monitor this. I have a 16 year old daughter, and I am ambivalent about her iPhone use. If I structure this, does it really matter because she is going to be in college in a few years. Will I teach her anything by limiting it? Will I be taking her out of social circles where her friends are communicating? 

We know why our devices are an addiction. We use them everyday and we have created a habit, a tick, an urge to check it even at the most unusual times. I hear cell phones going off in meetings, during presentations, and at funeral services. A smart phone does what it is suppose to do. We can't blame the phone! We can shut it off, or leave it in the car, but for some reason we don't or are not willing to. 

Our device was built to notify us without judging where we are, what we are doing, or how important the meeting is. It has no social skills, and we are being shaped by its bad habits. 

Maybe some day technology in our iPhones will be able to make situational decisions by the information it is taking in around it. " Patric is in an important meeting now, I should not interrupt him."  

It would also be a great feature if iPhones would shut off automatically, and right before it shuts off say, " You are using me too much and you have been inside the house all day, time to go outside for an hour, I will be available for use then!"

We don't get outside enough, perhaps this is why everyone is so low on vitamin D3 or we are not building resistance to germs. A little dirt can help this! You know how it feels when you get outside; it could be a bit chilly and you go for a walk and it just feels invigorating! You think to yourself, "Why don't I do this everyday? It feels so good!" Leave your iPhone at home, and as you walk and get further away from it, the stress begins to lift. 

If we could do this everyday, the power of the outdoors would positively impact our kids' lives and wellness. We can't underestimate the benefits being outside can have. 

Save the Date: LABBB High School, Transition Department and LABBB Partners Open House

Back to School Fun
By: Rachele Leonardo
The students at Francis Wyman had a great time in their Brown Bear themed motor group.  In addition to warming up with Brown Bear yoga, the students got to crawl into the tunnel and hibernate like bears.  Everyone had so much fun while getting sensory input and strengthening their muscles in the process! 

Back to School at Fox Hill
By: Beth Veguilla & Jillian Bishop
Open House night was held on September 20th. Parents came and read letters written by their students and were asked to write letters back to them. Students told parents to check out their favorite things in the classroom. Some items were the white board table, a k-nex car built by the students, and the student library. Students made self-portraits, and parents had to find their student's desk.
Students worked with Mrs. Thorpe, a former LABBB teacher, to help clean up the garden for the Spring. They were very excited to pick the final vegetables of the season. They were eggplant, tomatoes, and green beans!
In Search of New Community Work Experiences
By: Theresa LeBlanc

The current job market is ripe for the development of new opportunities for LABBB students.  As companies struggle to find a reliable workforce, more attention has been given to hiring people with disabilities. Many organizations are being creative, looking at an individual's skill set to complete various tasks that are traditionally a part of someone else's job, freeing that person to do the more complex parts of their own jobs.  We are always seeking these types of opportunities, behind the scenes type jobs, that are helpful to a business.  In addition to the traditional types of jobs our students tend to gravitate to, such as retail, grocery and food service, we continue to look for opportunities in clerical, manufacturing as well as in the shipping/receiving domains. 
Recently, we were lucky to acquire two new community work sites.  The Harvard IT department, located in the iconic Polaroid building in Cambridge, and the Massachusetts Archives and Museum, located at Columbia Point in South Boston have opened their doors wide to our students.  They are providing our students with new types of work experiences, a welcome addition to our already vast offerings.   These opportunities did not come from the desperate manager of a department, an ad in the newspaper, or from a cold call...these opportunities were sought after and developed by members of the greater LABBB community or more specifically, the parents of LABBB students.
Data taken from the US Department of Labor website show that more than one third of jobs are found through personal contacts/ networking.  The Transition Team takes this to heart when looking for new community work experiences.  We are asking you, as part of the greater LABBB community, to help us seek out these opportunities for one student or for a group of students.  It could be in your own place of employment or within your own network of friends and family members.   
Many of us have good intentions and great ideas, but do not take the time to act on them.  It does take a concerted and coordinated effort to help our students reach their maximum potential, especially in the need fulfilling area of work.  All we need to do is act. All we need from you is the opportunity; after that, we can make it work.  If you would like to help us increase work opportunities for our students, contact us at 781-861-2400 x 1003.

The LABBB Department of Transition Services
Clinical Corner: Teaching Emotional Intelligence
Self ~ knowledge ~ Managing Your Emotions~Understanding Others
By: Patricia Costa
Throughout the collaborative, clinicians and specialists work together developing creative ways to deliver curriculum, activities, and positive support to strengthen students' Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an assortment of mental abilities and skills that can help our students successfully manage both themselves and the demands of working with others. This involves teaching mindfulness practices to develop self awareness, using Cognitive Behavioral Strategies (CBT), and Zones of Regulation strategies to connect, identify, and manage thoughts/feelings and emotions. Teaching and modeling EI concepts is integrated daily throughout all our LABBB environments.
Developing EI enables our students to learn how to:
  • Know themselves reasonably well (self-awareness)
  • Control their emotions better
  • Show empathy with others
  • Use social skills in an effective way to meet their needs/wants.
The development of EI and social skills is something our students struggle with at times as they mature and meet increasing school and vocational demands. Below are several approaches to try when teaching kids/teens about their emotions.
  1. Name Emotions: Use "reflective listening" which entails explaining emotions. Don't punish, dismiss, or scold your child/teen for being emotional. Understanding of emotions will give them the tools they need to identify emotions in other situations. Put a name to the emotion.
  2. Explain that Emotions Are Normal: Do not tag emotions as "good" or "bad". Try using phrases like, " I can sense you are getting upset", or, "it sounds like you're really hurt". Don't convey judgement or frustration. Ask questions, seek understanding, and convey to them that you understand.
  3. Help Develop Strategies For Managing Emotions: Teaching kids/teens how to breathe, use mindfulness, count to "10", use music or art, exercise, stress toys, etc. will help develop positive coping strategies. Help kids/teens learn how to problem-solve. Problem solving might need some help from adults, but resist the urge to handle the problem for them.
  4. Use Pictures and Books
  5. Integrate Mindfulness
Emotionally intelligent rules for parenting are:
  • Spend time with your child
  • Establish rules that you all (you, your child, other family members) agree to, to inform decision-making.
  • Allow moderate autonomy for the child/teen to decide how they should act.
  • Find ways to define the responsibilities which accompany their freedom.
  • Use discipline that is fair and takes circumstances into account.
  • Encourage independence.
LABBB Annual Craft Fair
Saturday, December 1

LABBB Alumni Crafts Class
Starting Saturday, October 13
Our mission is to keep the LABBB alumni connected. We will be bringing more Alumni activities to our community. Stay tuned!

Recreation News and Events
By:  Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
The school year got off to a great start with the LABBB Reunion Dance.  Graduates attended from just about every year from 1986 up to 2018 totaling 220 people. Maryann Ziegler (class of 1986), Ann Murphy (class of 1987) and Mary Grace Bonano (class of 1988), attended and were three of our oldest alumni.

Boxing, bowling, and Wednesday Recreation are all up and running. We do have a few openings in our Around Town Dining, Playbill evenings, and Monday Movie Nights.

Our annual LABBB Halloween Dance is coming up on October 25th. This is a costume dance and is for our high school students and their Best Buddies/PALS friends. 

Finally, we have a fun LABBB Recreation fundraiser October 24. LABBB staff and LABBB family members (18 and over) are invited to spin for a great cause at Cycl3 in Burlington. Space is limited, so sign up early. 

Recreation Updates:

We are looking forward to a great year. If you have any LABBB Recreation or Adapted Physical Education questions, please feel free to email prizzo@LABBB.net

 LABBB Spirit Store
Dear LABBB Community!

The LABBB Spirit Store Is Open. The deadline for ordering is October 28.


A LABBB Podcast

We are very excited to have Dawn Gross as our guest on this episode to talk about the ICEI program at Middlesex Community College. Dawn is the ICEI Coordinator for this partnership with LABBB Collaborative and Bedford Public Schools. The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (ICEI) Program at Middlesex Community College is a dual enrollment opportunity for high school students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18 to 21. The MCC/LABBB ICEI program is beginning its 5th year. Dawn talks with LABBB Collaborative Executive Director Patric Barbieri about how this initiative started, what we have learned and how it has evolved. Dawn also answers many of the questions that parents and students ask about the ICEI program. 

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