Message from the Executive Director
Dear LABBB Parents and Guardians,
We are going to start holding our parent evening workshops as we have done every year in conjunction with our monthly dances. The first parent workshop will be held on Thursday, November 19, 6:30-8:00pm with Leo Rotman and Karen Mariscal. Planning a Life: Considerations for you child's Future.
We are also setting up workshops with Michael Wiener and Patti Menzel. Michael has presented at both our parent evening workshops and our Transition Fair for many years. I learn something new about special needs planning every time I listen to Michael speak. His knowledge and philosophy is something that so many LABBB parents have connected with. Michael Wiener will hold his workshop: A Special needs Planning Discussion on Thursday, December 10.
Over the past three years, Patti Menzel has come to speak to our staff on our professional day about The Challenges of being Autistic "Bright and Verbal." She has really impressed our staff and we invite her to come back every year. We asked her on a few occasions if she would speak to the LABBB parents and she agreed. Although this will be over Zoom we still feel like you will enjoy and learn quite a bit from her presentation. She will be presenting in January or February.
Emily Rubin, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network (MSSN), will also be doing a sibling workshop this year in the early Spring. We had a date planned for her to present last spring but we needed to cancel. This is a workshop that we have always wanted to offer to our parents. Sibling support is incredibly important for the present and future. You can also check out Emily's Podcast with me if you want to get a preview by clicking here.
We will send out more information on each of the workshops as they are approaching. If you have any thoughts of a presentation that you think would be beneficial for the LABBB community please let me know.
|October is AAC Awareness Month|
By: Amanda Scheriff
This month we celebrate AAC Awareness Month, a month that started to spread the word about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). The goal of the month is to bring awareness to AAC and inform the public of the many ways that people can use AAC to enhance their communication. During the month of October, many conferences are held to build knowledge for clinicians and families, communication application companies will put applications on sale, and people share their stories to increase understanding on how we all use AAC to strengthen our communication. Here are some ways that you can celebrate AAC awareness month:
- Communication for everyone: remember that access to communication is a right for all people. Check out the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities (NJC) to review the Communication Bill of Rights.
- Talk about AAC: share how AAC is used in your life. Communication passports, or a one-page overview on how someone uses AAC, stickers sharing how someone communicates, or pre-programmed phrases on a communication system to start the conversation (e.g., "I use this device to communicate" "You can talk to me using these symbols) places on device cases, wheel chairs, or simply shared with possible communication partners is a great way to spread awareness.
- Listen to AAC Users: learn from AAC users about using AAC! Talking with Tech, a podcast available on most Podcast apps, offers interviews with Hannah Foley, Chris Klein, and Carson Carvey who are all adult AAC users sharing their stories about how they use AAC to communicate. For a powerful video about access to AAC, watch Please Don't Leave My Voice on the Shelf to see AAC users in action.
- Read about AAC: use books to learn about AAC or to connect with a character who uses AAC.
○ Elementary: Ella Bella Just Can't Tell Ya by Hallie Sherman, Lucas the Lion Loves the Tiny Talker by: Brittani and Ryan Rollen
○ Middle School: Romeo Riley (Series) by: April M. Witt, How Katie Got a Voice by: Patricia L. Mervine
○ High School/ Adult: Out of My Mind by: Sharon M. Draper, Ghost Boy by: Martin Pistorius
|Clinical Corner: The Power of Positive Thinking
By: Kerry Joachim
Does it sometimes feel challenging to get your student to share about their day with you? Or, do you notice your student is more likely to share complaints or report something negative from the day, regardless of how well it may have gone?
If so, you are not alone, and these are common and understandable responses. This is because the human brain is actually wired to focus on the negatives more than the positives. This natural tendency is referred to as "negativity bias" in the field of Psychology. The good news is that there are things we can do to help our students, and ourselves, to also recognize and share the positives! Students learn better when they practice more positive thinking. They also feel better about themselves, make better decisions, and find it easier to achieve their goals.
Tips for Helping Students Develop the Power of Positive Thinking:
1. Show by example. Adults can model this for students by sharing our own positive thoughts and efforts to focus on the good, even in the face of challenging situations.
2. Validate, then challenge. It's important for the negative thoughts and feelings to be heard and acknowledged. Then, we can help students to consider if there are alternative thoughts or ways of seeing the situation.
3. Encourage strategies. Remind and praise students for practicing the habits and tools that help them to feel more positive. Some of these might be; positive self-talk or affirmations, keeping a gratitude journal, spending time on creative hobbies, reading or listening to things that make them laugh, getting exercise or fresh air, practicing mindfulness activities, doing random acts of kindness, etc.
4. Ask a different question. Open-ended questions often yield more meaningful responses than routine closed-ended questions. Try asking; "What was the best part of your day?" ~ "What went well today?" ~ "What made you laugh or smile today?" ~ "What's something you did that made someone else feel good today?" ~ "What are you proud of yourself for today?" ~ "What is one thing you learned today?"
LABBB Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Updates
by: Jack James
| We are starting the school year off strong, back in the classrooms doing what we do best. As always, we are growing as a program and heading into old yet new uncharted territory. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a major topic of conversation that we are excited to bring to LABBB. A group of peers are working together to bring understanding, training, and a new curriculum to staff and students alike while seeking outside support to steer us in a direction to best benefit us as a program. Our goal is to guide staff on how to navigate and educate our students across all levels and backgrounds.
Our core values have been updated and newly amended to include our core value of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: We seek to understand, nurture, respect, and celebrate the individuality and diversity of students, staff, and our surrounding communities in a safe and supportive environment. This value truly embodies what we at LABBB hold close, that what makes us all different is what makes us all together stronger.
As we move forward, the hope is to also encourage self-education on these topics. There are so many materials on this subject that it often feels overwhelming as to where one should start. One suggestion is the book "So you want to talk about race" by Ijeoma Oluo. The book is outlined by questions prevalent in our current society, with each chapter asking a new question, then diving into each in a beautifully respectful and informative way.
|A New Way to Start the Year|
By: Kathy Farley's Class
This past March, the sudden and unprecedented closing of our school buildings due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to face a huge change. Within a moment's notice, we as educators were asked to leave the classroom indefinitely and recreate a virtual learning environment. As challenging as that was, we didn't let it stop us from providing the best possible service for our students.
This fall, in room 704, our high school class has students that are learning both in person and from their homes. We have provided them with visual and interactive supports to use in their home to assist with remote learning. Some of the activities we have had fun with this quarter include creating shopping lists to purchase items needed for our classroom, reading about current events, taking actual and virtual field trips to Lexington Center and caring for the beautiful garden we created outside of our classroom. We are always continuing to build functional communication, mobility, academic, and living skills. We stand proud that we work in an environment that fosters support for our students and their families. Our staff is creative and thrives on working collaboratively, no matter what environment we are in.
We are all learning everyday, whether it be on the screen or in person, working together to make the best of this new landscape!
|Great News, Off & Running...|
By: Skip Avery - Transition Department
| The goal has always been and continues to be maintaining the health and safety of our students and staff during this challenging time. This goal is shared by our Community Partners, with whom we continue to work diligently to facilitate the return of our students to their sites. Part of this process is to make sure that all of the safety guidelines and protocols are continuously adhered to in all of our community environments.
In my conversations with the Community Partners, it was quite clear they all very much miss our students, staff, and the wonderful work they do. The Community Partners who are able to welcome us back at this time have their own COVID guidelines based on their business needs, including limiting the number employees, staff, students, and patrons in their environment, due to physical distancing as well as and implementing safe practice with the work that is performed. In addition, we have to follow LABBB, school based guidelines which include keeping cohorts of students and staff from the same classroom compartmentalized as much as possible, which at this time limits the number of students who can attend. Our goal is to integrate as many students as possible back to our Community Partners as soon as we are able to, within the aforementioned guidelines. As a team, the Transition Department continues to be creative, flexible, and work diligently to reintegrate all of our students into the community.
I am thrilled to report that Whole Foods Bedford (WFB) welcomed two of our students back last week. WFB is a wonderful and supportive Community Partner and we are able to go there three days a week for approximately two hours each day with two students from the same classroom. The students who attended were very happy to go and the WFB staff were excited to see them.
In addition to WFB, we were able to return to Omar's for one day with one student for 90 minutes. In a couple of weeks we will be able to add another student. Lastly, we are scheduled to start back at Meadow Mist Farm (two days a week) and Bina Farms (one day a week) soon. This is very exciting news that we hope will lead to more opportunities to get more students back out enjoying experiences with our Community Partners.
We are off and running with more exciting opportunities to come. Stay tuned for more.
|LABBB Recreation and Social Opportunities|
LABBB after school Recreation has not started up yet, but we are gearing up to do some zoom activities. Current LABBB families, check your email in the next few days for sign ups for zoom boxing, bingo, walking, and arts and crafts.
We had the LABBB Reunion Dance in September via zoom. About 60 alum joined on zoom, everyone seemed to have a good time catching up and dancing the night away. It was not like our usual LABBB Reunion dances, but still a fun time to see each other.