Monday, December 22, 2014
The A TIPS model is a simple way for us to make sure we are heard by others with all types of feedback. Anyone can do this at any time, whether at the work place or in our personal life.You need just a few minutes of quiet privacy to ensure that your words can be heard. Strive to make eye contact and use open body language so this message is pulled out of the day to day chatter. It is important that these words are heard. Once you know what to say, this is how to say it:
A: Ask for permission. (Do you have a minute to talk?)
T: Tell the person what you observed. (Yesterday you made it a point to help me with. . .)
I: Impact. Describe how this affected you. (Your support made my day immediately better and my life easier.)
P: Pause. Stop talking to see if they have a response and to also allow your words to be heard and processed.
S: Suggest. If the feedback doesn’t require change, then reinforce your thanks. (I value you and want to help you in any way I can. You are important in my life.)
If people in the Latham community were able to do this with one person in their work life, our community would be transformed leading into the holiday week. Please stop and remember how many people support you on a daily or weekly basis. It is in all of our best interests to start recognizing the good that is around us with gratitude and mindfulness.
Happy Holidays and Happy 2015!
Tim Vaughan, MAT
Director of Leadership and Growth
Friday, December 19, 2014
For any parent, this week is stressful. For the parent of a child with PWS, it can be next to impossible without the right supports in place. Here are some tips to survive the holidays:
1. Take time for yourself. You will not be any use to anyone if you don't take care of our own needs. Eat right, sleep enough and slow down in general.
2. Allow for imperfection. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, to downgrade your plans and to delegate responsibilities.
3. It's okay to let people down. If you accepted plans to attend a party and things have not gone as planned, or at the last minute the thought of going is about as appealing as a root canal, don't go. It really is a simple as it sounds.
4. Keep it simple. You may typically celebrate the holidays with a large extended family but if that will cause your child (and in turn, you) high amounts of anxiety, then plan for a small celebration at home with immediate family members.
While your idea of a perfect holiday celebration may involve lots of gatherings, food, and family, your reality may be very different. If you can learn to accept your new reality, then you are on the way to making new, beautiful traditions that may be different but still joyous and full of love.
Happy Holidays to you and your family. You are perfect just the way you are!
Manager of PWS Services
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Last week I had my second cornea transplant in 17 years – a matching operation now for each eye.
The donor tissue was from a 10 year-old child. I am 49.
With age and retrospect, I was able to step back this time around and equate the experience with Latham and identify with our individuals with “complex special needs”:
-Time does not “heal all wounds” for some of our individuals. Time can heal mine.
And what do we have in common?
And in the process, we develop a Changed View and a Fuller more Empathetic Life.
Happy Holidays to All During this Season of Gratitude,
Latham Centers VP of Development & Community Outreach
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Tall and lean in stature, Ryan was adept at sports and Special Olympics Games; he is also the first Latham student to run and complete the Falmouth Road Race—two years in a row! He also devoted time as a member of student council, and was even a tutor to his younger peers.
On his graduation day, Ryan provided some very wise words to his peers by telling them “to always be strong, and to never give up.”
Latham would also like to send a big thank you to the Harwich Quilt Bank for providing another Latham graduate with a memorable custom-designed quilt! The volunteer group has done so for years and the student quilt presentation is one of many highlights of graduation for our students.
Congratulations Ryan! Latham is lucky to have seen you grow into the mature, young man that you are today. We wish you well in your transition to adulthood.
Latham School Teacher
Monday, December 15, 2014
Community Members Attend Latham Centers’ 11th Annual Holiday Craft Fair; Proceeds Benefit MSPCA Cape Cod and Latham Centers’ Fire Museum Renovations
This year’s craft fair was a true dream come true. We were open to the public and the public response was outstanding. One shopper showed up before our sale even began. At 3:01p (sale began at 3p) I lifted my head and saw the room was full of customers. At times the parking lot was full and folks needed to wait for a spot. One woman let me know she was at our Brewster in Bloom event. Seeing the crafts there made her know she had to come back for more. A former Latham cook came to make her purchases. She was thrilled to purchase Alumni cards. Not only was she thrilled to remember that Alumni fondly, she was thrilled because her art work is amazing. One couple had armfuls of goodies. They stated they were going to use them as gift toppers. “How can you resist this stuff?” they exclaimed waving a google-eyed reindeer made out of puzzle pieces.
Our students have been making crafts for the last few months in anticipation of the sale. Students look forward to this event as not only, an opportunity to showcase their artistic talent but as an opportunity to give back to the community. Student council coordinates student voting for the charity of their choice. This year our students have decided that the proceeds will be a 50-50 split; to both the local MSPCA and our fund raising campaign for the renovation of our fire museum property. Shoppers got a sneak peek at our fire museum property, since this is where the sale was held. Students manned the table at the sale. They delighted in describing the items for sale and that all proceeds will be donated.
We have been conducting this sale for 11 years on campus. We were thrilled to let the community in on it. During the sale a student caught me tearing up. She exclaimed that I was “crying because I was so proud of everybody.” That is absolutely correct. We are very proud of our students and their craft fair. Should I confess that I may also have had a tear in my eye because I could not greedily purchase everything for myself. Luckily there was no time for that—we had customers to serve. Can’t wait to see you at the Craft Fair next year!
Friday, December 12, 2014
Many of you have asked that I talk in greater detail about getting through the holidays, specifically about how to explain to family members (grandparents in particular) about their child's diet. How many of you have heard the following:
"It's only one cookie"
"It's a special day"
"You don't need to worry about his diet anymore"
"You're being too strict"
"Just this once."
Grandparents want to spoil their grandchildren and in many cases that includes food. Not giving their grandchild special treats goes against their nature, especially when that child is saying that they're hungry. Will one extra piece of cake ruin their diet and make them gain 5 pounds? Probably not but it's not just about the calories. We have an obligation to create an environment for our kids where they can thrive and that includes managing their expectations regarding food. When our kids know what they are going to eat, how much, and when, they can relax and can focus on the rest of their lives. When extra, unexpected food is introduced they feel anxious, stressed, and out of control.
Giving a child or adult with PWS more than what they were told that they would get creates anxiety and anxiety leads to unwanted behaviors. You are no longer grandma or grandpa, you are a food source because you created an expectation. You want your grandchild to want to see you for your love and comfort, not because you might slip them some treats that they shouldn't have. Spoil them every time you see them with presents and hugs and your company, not with food. If for no other reason than the more secure their minds are about what they are going to eat, the better behaved they will be. "Just this once" hurts them. It makes them feel unsafe and anxious and that is the last thing that you want your grandchild to feel about you. And if you think that this isn't fair, you're right. It's not fair that they can't have what the other kids have and that we have to be so careful about what we give them, but it is our reality and sticking to it will make your grandchild and your whole family better for it.
Monday, December 8, 2014
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Every day I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help raise funds to further enhance the life-changing programs here at Latham Centers. Moreover, I enjoy telling the story of what we do at Latham Centers and how amazing our residents and staff are – they are truly my inspiration!
Describe a few of your responsibilities and how you spend much of your time.
As a Development Associate it is my responsibility to help with fund raising. This is done through event planning, community outreach, sound media/donor communications, grant writing and working with board and Capital Campaign Committee.
What skills are most important for professionals who raise funds for individuals with PWS or other complex special needs?
When you’re raising funds for residents like ours who struggle to raise monies on their own, or have limited vocational opportunities, it is critical that the public knows how special and brave everyone is at Latham Centers. As a fundraiser, you need to know how to tell these stories in an eloquent and interesting manner.
One question I get all the time is, “How can you ask people for money?” My answer? I feel that I’m not asking for money, rather I’m asking for funding to support our amazing residents and innovative programs.
What are the most important lessons you attempt to teach new staff and what advice would you give to someone contemplating a career at Latham Centers?
Annually the Development Team works with a summer intern. I tell them to keep their head up when giving is down, think of new and innovative ways to raise monies, and to ALWAYS say, “Thank you for your generosity.” Also, I tell them it’s about who you know and how you network – don’t be afraid to be outgoing and to involve yourself in community events.
What do you love about working with individuals with PWS or other complex special needs?
When given the great opportunity to go to campus or adult residential homes I love seeing the appreciation and vivacity of each and every one of our residents. They motivate me and help me to stay engaged on a daily basis.
Has this job taught you anything about yourself?
This job has made me impress upon myself and others, “What’s the worst that can happen when you ask for funding – they might say no?” The positive energy that comes from our donors, friends, volunteers, staff, and residents is absolutely contagious and I’ve learned to act as a sponge and absorb that enthusiasm.
How do you spend your time when you’re not working at Latham?
When not at Latham I enjoy time spent with friends and family, as my roots are on Cape Cod – whether it be lounging on the beach in the summers or teaching my nephew new and exciting things about Cape Cod. I also work in restaurants on the side and enjoy the customer interaction that comes with the service industry. Lastly, I find myself getting more involved with other causes such as CCYP, and co-chair the Live for Lou Fund.
Friday, December 5, 2014
It is not uncommon for children and adults with PWS to find themselves in the center of a conflict at school, work, or in the community. Poor impulse controls, communication challenges and/or a lack of self awareness can lead to struggles in certain social situations. Here are some ways to help resolve conflict if it arises:
• Be sure that your child understands or at least hears his or her part in the conflict. It may very well be that a lack of preparation or understanding on someone else's part caused the problem, but it is more important and beneficial for your child to hear how he or she could have handled the situation differently. You can then privately address the other party involved.
• Don't rush to fix it. If your child loses a job or a friend as a result of his or her behavior, don't try to resolve this on your own. Your child needs to be the person to explain and apologize. Let them do the fixing. If you are always the one cleaning up the mess, your child will not learn that actions have natural consequences nor will they learn that if he or she caused it. The child needs to fix it.
• Raise your expectations. The higher you set the bar, the higher your child needs to reach. The most successful children that I have met have parents who expect more, push more and do not allow their child's diagnoses to excuse poor behavior.
• Be a support. Validate the challenges that your child has and coach him or her as to how to repair a damaged relationship; but remember that the key is to support and not to do it for them.
There will likely be many conflicts along the road. Teaching cause and effect from a young age allows children the benefit of stronger relationships as they age.
Manager of PWS Services