Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Latham Dedicates Campus Schoolhouse the McNamara-Long Schoolhouse

Yesterday Latham Centers dedicated its campus schoolhouse for children with complex special needs the McNamara-Long Schoolhouse. Amidst an intimate crowd of staff, students, and members of the Latham Board of Directors, Latham President & CEO Anne McManus unveiled the new schoolhouse sign with the assistance of honorees Matt McNamara and Kathy Long.

Together, Mr. McNamara and Ms. Long dedicated years of service to the children and adults who call Latham home. Kathy and Matt were involved with Latham in leadership capacities during its formative years and set up a foundation for its future growth and development and, for that, we are forever thankful. Their compassion, professionalism and commitment continue to serve as a model for all of us. Today, Latham School serves approximately 45 residential and day students on its tightly-knit Brewster campus. The schoolhouse houses a library, multiple classrooms, occupational therapy and nursing, technology, and administrative offices. 

Originally dedicated in 2002 as the McNamara Schoolhouse, an addition to the building has since been added while honoring the combined and collective work of Mr. McNamara and Ms. Long, dating as far back as 1974 through 2003.

Matt began his involvement at Latham (formerly Residential Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.) in 1974 assuming the role of Director of Education. Subsequently he served as Latham’s Executive Director, a position he held until 1984. 

Matt then went on to work with the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools as Director of Membership Assistance and Deputy Director until 1991 when he obtained his Law degree at Suffolk University. He then pursued a successful and meaningful career as an attorney helping children and schools throughout the Commonwealth. After his retirement, Latham was fortunate to have had Matt rejoin us as a member of the board of directors.

In 1974, Kathy began her tenure with Latham Centers in a social work capacity. As the scope of social services increased in the late 70’s and early 80’s and the social service department at Latham expanded accordingly, Kathy assumed new roles and responsibilities including supervisor and social services coordinator. In 1981 Kathy was one of three people responsible for the design and implementation of the Gilbough Center, the second program in the nation developed to address the unique needs of people with Prader-Willi Syndrome. With the inception of the Gilbough Center and the implementation of a mentoring program for Latham School students called Options for Independence, the demands for agency-wide regulatory and programmatic accountability increased significantly. Kathy assumed the role as Director of Programs, a position created to address the evolving needs of the agency.

In 1985 Kathy left Latham Centers but returned in 1988 as its first Director of Human Resources and Training. In this position, Kathy developed or revised many of Latham’s personnel policies and practices and instituted the agency’s first comprehensive staff training pertaining to therapeutic crises intervention. 

In 1993, as the agency’s administrative demands increased, Kathy was appointed to the position of Associate Executive Director - a position she held until her retirement in 2003.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

PWS Conference News

What an amazing week for conferences! Over the weekend I had the honor of speaking at the Ontario PWS Association in Toronto. I met new families and had the pleasure of seeing old friends. The conference presenters were made up of parents, caregivers, physicians, and attorneys all speaking to what matters most- helping our kids succeed.
This week I am in Virginia at the National Organization for Rare Diseases conference celebrating 30 years of advocacy and renewed hope offered through the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. What incredible people, dedicating their lives to improving medical care and research for the hundreds of rare diseases that many health professionals ignore. Today is day one and I am looking forward to learning and spreading the word about PWS. 

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Friday, October 17, 2014

Latham Works: Latham Students Volunteer at Brewster Ladies Library

Every Wednesday, Ben, Diane, and Rachel volunteer at Brewster Ladies Library. Over the past five weeks, our students have been cleaning all donated Legos in preparation for the opening of the library’s Lego club on October 25th. Our students also help in shelving books and DVDs; they clean toys for the toddler group and help in many other various library tasks. Our students just always rise to the occasion with their enthusiasm, professionalism, and willingness to learn new skills.

Submitted by:
Fred Walters

TIP of the WEEK: The Trouble with Consequences

When our kids act out in school or in the community it isn't unusual for people unfamiliar with the syndrome to turn to consequences to correct their behavior. The problem is that negative consequences don't work. Punishments have little to no effect on changing behaviors and can often add anxiety that often cause more of the unwanted behaviors.

 There are four types of consequences:
  • Penalty to LOSE something DESIRED- at best this approach is ineffective. At worst it will trigger stronger behaviors.  
  • Punishment to RECEIVE something UNDESIRED- equally as ineffective.
  • Negative reinforcement to AVOID something DESIRED- there are times where this approach is necessary if the person is not safe enough to engage in the desired behavior but, as a rule, this is not an effective approach.
  • Positive reinforcement to GAIN something DESIRED- this is the most effective for the long and short term. Using positive reinforcement strengthens skills as well as builds stronger relationships.
Remember that all behavior is about communication. When faced with undesired behaviors, offer alternative ways to communicate. It is likely that your child is trying to express  dissatisfaction, feelings of being overwhelmed or confusion or feelings of discomfort.  Use compassion. Ask what the child needs to feel safe.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Latham Centers Hosts Federated Church of Orleans on Campus

Members of the Federated Church of Orleans recently visited Latham School Campus in Brewster to witness their philanthropic support in action. The Church’s Local Mission Committee recently awarded Latham School with a grant to purchase iPads and accompanying assistive technology “apps” to benefit our students with complex special needs, including learning disabilities. The tour was led by a Latham student who charmed, captivated, and entertained the visitors with stories of classroom activities, and an insider’s peek into the challenges faced and overcome by our students and staff on a daily basis.
Throughout the tour, the Latham Student, guided by Assistant Principal Brittni Taylor and Development Associate Katrina Fryklund, described specific uses of iPad assistive technology from reading apps, to others specifically designed to promote physical fitness, and boost engagement and performance in mathematics and writing.

The members of the Federated Church of Orleans are truly impressed with all that happens at Latham School, including the uses of iPads in the classrooms and the personal testimonials of the day-to-day, life-changing activities at Latham Centers.  We are grateful and appreciative of the Local Mission Committee’s commitment toward advancing our mission to help children with complex special needs to lead abundant and fulfilling lives on Cape Cod.

Submitted by: 
Katrina Fryklund

Zulu Nyala - South Africa Photo Safari on Bidding for Good!

The Latham Centers Bidding for Good Auction closes at 10am tomorrow, Friday October 17th – don’t forget to get your last bids in! After the auction closes the items will be displayed at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club for our 5th Annual Charity Golf Classic Auction on Monday, October 20th. Take a look here at the once-in-a-lifetime, week long, South African Photo Safari experience. While you’re there check out the other 30 items! All proceeds support life-changing programs for our students and adults who call Latham Centers home.

Friday, October 10, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Surviving Halloween

Well it's that time of year again. The trifecta of holidays that focus on food and give all of us anxiety attacks long before the actual event! Halloween gives us nightmares but not for the same reason as the rest of the world. There are some things that we can do to allow our kids a chance to celebrate this holiday without all of the candy that goes along with it.

  • 1. Plan your own party so you have control over the food. There are great recipes online for Halloween themed veggies and fruit trays as well as sugar free punches.

  • 2. If your child's school will not agree to have a candy free classroom celebration then you may have to plan to keep your child home that day. The stress from attending the party may not be worth it. 

  • 3. Older kids may want to participate in handing out treats to the neighborhood kids that come to the house. We have had great results with handing out small bags of Halloween pencils, erasers, plastic rings or any small non-food themed item.
The idea is to allow your child to participate as much as possible without asking him or her to be surrounded by candy and food that they cannot have. That doesn't mean that they can't dress up, play games and be a part of the fun with the rest of the kids.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MAAPS and Latham School Animal Therapy Featured on NPR

Animal therapy is an important focus for many maaps (Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools) member schools. Latham School is a long-time maaps member—a non-profit association of 87 Massachusetts special education private schools which provide over 150 educational programs and services to more than 6,800 students with disabilities. For some Latham students, training to work with miniature donkeys leads them to volunteer and work at Cape Cod animal shelters while reaping many other emotional and social benefits.

Listen in on a recent “The Point” radio segment of WCAI/NPR featuring maaps Board Vice President and Latham Centers President & CEO Anne McManus discussing Latham School’s unique Asinotherapy program on Cape Cod. She is joined by Larry Sauer, maaps Board President and Vice President of Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover and Braintree. 

The Point, with host Mindy Todd, re-airs tonight at 7pm or listen later by downloading the podcast HERE.