Friday, January 30, 2015

TIP of the WEEK: Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to paid support people is an inevitable reality of our children's lives. There will be teachers, aides, direct care personnel, therapists, and doctors that will touch you and your child's life in spectacular ways and saying goodbye to them will be devastating. Take comfort in knowing that right around the corner there are more wonderful people who will fight for, love, and support your child just as hard as the last person.

Here are some ways to help your child transition from the person who left and help them openly receive the new professional coming into their life:
  • Have closure. This can be anything from a one-to-one meeting, a short visit in the community (going to a coffee shop or favorite bookstore) or having a group goodbye.
  • Make something special. A card or a short story will allow your child to put down in words what that person meant to him or her. Often times there is regret on the child's part for not expressing to the person who left how much they meant. Writing allows an expression of feelings when verbalizing them may be too difficult.
  • Assure your child that the person leaving was not because of anything they did or didn't do.
  • Be careful not to make comparisons with the person who left to the new person in your child's life. Most likely, your child will be looking to you for permission to like the new person. Be sure to give that permission openly.

And finally, it may not always be possible for the staff who left to keep in touch so you should avoid making that promise. Saying goodbye is never easy, but your child will come to learn that, when properly handled, it can open the door to more relationships and new friendships.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What My School Means to Me

What My School Means to Me
by: Patrick

What school means to me is having a good education, good grades, friends, safety, being organized, respectful, responsible, friendly, polite, good manners, and just to have fun. I like Latham because most of the people here are more sincere and more understanding towards your feelings as opposed to a public school. Have you ever felt like fitting in a group to be accepted or trying to impress your peers in order for them to like you? I have because at my other school, everybody seemed to be more focused on themselves because they wanted other people to like them. What I think is people should be who they are for people to like them and if just one person doesn't like you there are so many other people that you can be friends with. It is important to make friends and keep them instead of trying to make yourself look popular. If people went too far with it, nobody would want to be friends because they don't like show-offs. So make the right choice and what you think is the best decision. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Principal’s Corner!

We are winding down here at the school house with all our Alternative Testing Portfolios! Teachers have been doing a fabulous job over the last few months creating invigorating curriculum to mirror the standards contained in the Alternative Testing. While the administration and teachers could consider ourselves well-rounded in the Massachusetts Alt. Assessment, this year we had the opportunity to better educate ourselves in other states’ alternative assessments! Our teachers attended training in Long Island, New York in October of 2014 to prepare for the NY Alt. Two teachers and I became experts on the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program by reviewing materials sent to use by the school district.
Aidan is currently working on finishing his New York Alt. In science, his classroom has been busy learning about the states of matter and cause/effect relationships in weather. In math he is mastering how to solve for a variable at the end of a linear equation!

Brennan is currently working on finishing his Virginia Alternate Assessment Program! In reading, Brennan is focusing on demonstrating comprehension of both fictional and nonfictional texts. In math, Brennan is demonstrating his knowledge of expressions and operations, as well as equations and inequalities.

Teachers and students have been working very hard and will be submitting their student’s work in the next few months for review. Our students are proud of the work they have completed and look forward to showing off their portfolio!

Great job to our students Aidan and Brennan, and kudos to our amazing teachers, Jeff, Suzanne, Heather, and Alanna!

Kara McDowell
Assistant Principal

Friday, January 23, 2015

TIP of the WEEK: Sensory Tools

Many of my weekly column readers write in asking what sensory tools work best with PWS individuals. There is no easy answer because it is specific to each individual's preference. It also depends on what behavior one is trying to decrease. That being said, here are some ideas for sensory tools and activities that have had great results for different needs:

For the person who picks―all tactile tools including stress balls, sand and water tables, silly putty, bubble wrap, chewlery (these are bracelets and necklaces that are designed to be chewed on), strips of material to shred and therabands. All of these also work well for decreasing agitation and increasing focus.

For daytime fatigue―therabands used under feet so the individuals can bounce; scents that are strong such as citrus or patchouli; and all activities that involve bouncing, jumping or climbing.

Reducing agitation―all activities that require using muscles in a positive way such as lifting objects (not too heavy), sucking thick liquid through a straw, stretching, blowing bubbles or jumping.

Preparing for transitions―counting, coloring, tapping or clapping to a rhythm or rocking.

Winding down―calming scents such as lavender or sandalwood, deep breathing, a warm bath or hand soaks.

It is always recommended to consult an occupational therapist before starting a sensory program. After a consult, you can experiment on what works best for your child. A rich array of sensory techniques can ease many of the typical behaviors seen in PWS as you and your child master long-term coping skills.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lower Cape TV Visits "New Year/New Works" Art Show

Latham Art Show from Lower Cape TV on Vimeo.

Lower Cape TV speaks with John Bonanni about the art show, "New Year/New Works" on display now at Brewster Ladies' Library, and a reminder that the art show reception takes place TONIGHT from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m at the Brewster Ladies' Library. 

Please show your support and check it out!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Living and Thriving with PWS

Latham Centers is proud and grateful to announce a new monthly blog column by Derek M., a 24 year-old Latham adult resident with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). Derek has resided on Cape Cod for over three years in a home managed by Latham Adult Services with fellow residents also diagnosed with PWS.  Read his first column “Living and Thriving with PWS” here:

January, 2015

My life at Latham Centers’ Adult Program

Coming from Rhode Island, I never would have imagined that I would one day have the opportunity to participate in a residential program specifically designed for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome on Cape Cod. After graduating from high school with a diploma and 3.25 GPA, many people speculated on what my future would hold. I tried college like a “normal” graduate would but found out that it was not the proper environment for me. 

I then moved back home to live with my parents while attending a community college. This started out really well, and I completed three college-level classes, but as the year went on, my temptation around food began to spiral out of control.

I began taking money out of the ATM with my own debit card which resulted in buying extra food at the cafeteria.  Eventually that led to me becoming severely depressed and feeling like an outcast. I ended up going to the hospital quite a few times to handle my behavior. I was then placed in a residential facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities when the hospital visits became too numerous. The problem was that this facility was not qualified to work with individuals with PWS.

Over a span of 2 years of continuous hospital admissions and a near death emergency room visit, I was up for immediate placement into the Latham Centers’ Gilbough program for adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome on Cape Cod. Immediately I began to fit it and in the short span of one year and a half I lost a total of 142 whopping pounds!!  I went from a high of 280lb to settling in at a comfortable 168-lb weight. This was an amazing transformation. 

Today, I now enjoy many activities, such as bowling in Special Olympics, acting and singing with the Latham Players, learning to care for animals and exercising.

So how did I do it, you ask?

It was possible because of my own commitment but also that of a compassionate and caring team of support staff and community inclusion at a job I love!  I hope that you can see that living with Prader-Willi Syndrome is quite the journey…. but more about that in my next post.  

Derek M., 
Adult resident at Latham Centers 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Latham School "New Year/New Works" Art Show Reception Thursday, Jan. 22nd at Brewster Ladies' Library

On behalf of Latham School, we cordially invite you to a student art show reception on Thursday, January 22nd from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m at the Brewster Ladies' Library. The show entitled New Year/New Works highlights an eclectic assortment of mixed media art including paintings and hand-painted, decorated furniture from the Latham Works vocational program.

The show continues through the end of the month in the Library's Exhibition Room located at 1822 Main Street/Route 6A in Brewster. Library hours are Tuesdays & Thursdays 10a.m. - 8p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays 10a.m. - 5p.m.  and Sundays 1-  4p.m.

Please note, the library exhibition room is sometimes in use for a program and not open for viewing, so please call the library at (508) 896-3913 before coming. For more information on the Brewster Ladies' Library visit: