Friday, September 30, 2011

Latham Begins "BELONGING" Project

Latham School started the new year on September 7, 2011. On that day, students and staff alike all participated in a “belonging” project, related to our Circle of Courage program. Our goal was to have each person on campus trace one of their hands, decorate it, add their name, and put it onto our large “BELONGING” banner. It was a busy day and there was a lot of excitement about the project. I am very glad to announce that by working together as a whole community, we were able to complete the banner that same day for presentation at our Community Meeting that afternoon.  We talked about “Belonging” which helps everyone to feel a part of something, in this case—part of the supportive Latham community. The banner is currently on display in the school house, and we have been having new members to the community (students and staff) add their hands to it.

Contributed by:
Pam Nolan, M.Ed.
Director of Education

"I think the themes of belonging and parentage and love are obviously universal."
~Christopher Eccleston

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Collaborative Poetry of the North Wing

Mindfulness, or certain meditative acts, have been clinically proven to reduce stress and increase prosocial behaviors among practitioners (see Marsha Linnehan’s book, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). Mindfulness can be anything from musical chairs to yoga and the larger focus is to partake in something nonjudgmental that causes the participant to be “in the moment.” Students in Latham’s Children’s Program regularly attend Social Skills Groups in which positive interaction with peers, active listening, conflict resolutions, and mindfulness exercises are practiced among all peers who live together in each residence. Students love these activities.

The following poems were collaboratively written by students in the North Wing during their Social Skills Group. Students sat in a large circle and were asked to say the first word that came into their minds. The imagery moved clockwise while a staff member acted as a scribe, writing down each word and image as they appeared. The result was highly image-driven collaborative poetry in the form of permeable, but slightly narrative verses which spoke to the collective consciousness of the group as a whole. This type of activity grounds the students in the present moment and helps to increase “mindfulness”. 

Contributed by:
John Bonanni

The Man Went on Vacation
The man went on vacation
with somebody
on the moon
aliens attacked
small honeybees
went hiking
got attacked
by a bear
please rob the bank
no money
batman robin froze
the bank store
dog gaga concert
crying drag queens
head banging apologize
martini glasses soda
fishing smoking partied
laughed fell ambulance
screaming sirens movie
theater bungie jumping
candy funeral earth robots

Samantha, Stefanie, Keri, John, Mimi, Paige, Leona, Kevin & Ally


A lily pad had love me
you, us, everybody.
I don’t know how
red cars race
trophy extravaganza.
you’ve got to be kidding me.
lobster dinner,
aqua marine bakery.
Goodbye, fluorescent windows
glistened when the moon comes up
at Hogwartz—
Pretty twilight,
nice friends forget everything lovely—
cook out,
Burnt chickens.

By: Leona, Mimi, Diane, Bess, Annee, Geanina, Kristi, Samantha, Paige, Susie, Ayanna, Keri, and John

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Latham School Awarded $20,000 Playground Grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Eastern New England, Inc.

Latham Centers, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a $20,000 grant Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England, Inc.  The grant is restricted toward the building and installation of a new adaptive playground on the grounds of Latham School in Brewster, Massachusetts.  Latham is now in the process of raising an additional $20,000 to fully cover equipment and installation expenses for the project.

The playground installation is slated to commence by spring 2012 with in-kind assistance from the Yarmouth, MA Moose Lodge #2270.  The playground is being specially designed to improve perceptual-motor skills, spatial awareness, and motor skill development of the Latham School population.  It will also assist students in training for the Special Olympics as members of the “Latham Hawks” athletic team.

“It is our intent that the playground will create healthy challenges for Latham students,” according to Karen McEachern, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England. “Undoubtedly, the equipment will greatly aid Latham’s physical education staff to implement new, physical activities on site without having to leave campus.  We are so happy to provide the lead grant for this project.”

To donate to the Latham School playground, or for more information, contact Gerry Desautels, Director of Development at 774-353-9296 or

More about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England
Since its inception in 1986, RMHC of Eastern New England has awarded over $22 million to organizations and programs helping thousands of children and families throughout Eastern New England.  RMHC of Eastern New England gives on-going support to both the Boston and Providence Ronald McDonald Houses®, which provide a home away from home for the families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals and two Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles™. The Care Mobile in Worcester, Massachusetts provides medical and dental care to children with unmet healthcare needs, and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Rhode Island (a.k.a The Molar Express) provides dental care to children in 20 communities.  For more information, please visit

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Amy Carroll Shares Her Story at the PWS Conference at Ocean Edge

Segment from PWS Conference held at Ocean Edge Resort on Cape Cod in September 2011 and hosted by Latham Centers, Advocates and PWS New England. Panelist Amy Carroll describes growing up with her older sister, who is diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Few Words From Chris Gallant

Sometimes you have the best conversations in the most unlikely of places.  The other day while on vacation, we were enjoying lunch in a restaurant at the Abbey of Monte Oliveatto.  It was a profoundly beautiful and peaceful setting where groups of travelers sat down to a lovely communal luncheon. Our table-mates asked the age old question....Where are you from and what do you do? I began to talk about Prader-Willi Syndrome and Latham Centers-- they became very excited. They were all from California and retired from nursing. They had friends whose grandson has PWS and they wanted to know what they could bring back to this family to assist them as their grandson became older. It never fails to amaze me that connections to the work we do can be found all over the world. Ciao!

Contributed by:
Chris Gallant

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  
It is the only thing." 
~Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Latham Adults Evacuate the Cape

No, it wasn’t due to recent hurricane Irene or another natural disaster, but nearly all of our adult program residents left Cape Cod under the watchful eye of Latham staff for a Labor Day weekend vacation visiting their families and loved ones.

What we refer to as our seasonal “van run”, Latham staffed vans transported our adult individuals to “off-cape” rendezvous locations in Wrentham, Sturbridge, Braintree and Chelmsford where waiting parents and family members greeted them.  Because of this unique transportation service, they were able to spend an enjoyable sunny holiday weekend at home with their families enjoying the celebrations that may be part of their family’s traditions. On the day after Labor Day, our staff and vans return to the drop-off sites to pick-up and deliver the adults to their Latham residences.

Latham provides this “van run” service four times a year during traditional family holidays. The other three van runs occur at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our families appreciate this service as it reduces their time and expense of traveling all the way to and from Cape Cod to pick-up and return their son or daughter.  The individuals anticipate these family visits; preparing well in advance of each van run.  They all leave with an excited smile on their face and return excited to tell us of the adventures when they return; making our efforts all worthwhile.

Contributed by:
Cindy Loring,
Adult Services Operations Manager
Mike Marchese,   
Director of Adult Services

"If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, 
it would probably be Labor Day Weekend." 
~Doug Larson

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sheila Burns and Bradford P. Malo Elected to Latham Centers, Inc. Board of Directors

September 13, 2011—Orleans, MA—Latham Centers, Inc., a Cape-based not-for-profit serving children and adults with emotional, developmental and physical disabilities, announced today the election of Sheila Burns of West Barnstable and Bradford P. Malo of Brewster to its Board of Directors.  Burns and Malo will initially serve three-year terms on Latham’s community-based board on the heels of the agency earning “fast track” accreditation by the prestigious, International Council on Accreditation on all aspects of its programs.

Ms. Burns earned her undergraduate degree in Education from Regis College and holds a Master’s degree in School Administration from Salem State College.  She taught at Centerville Elementary School for 28 years and then advanced as principal until her retirement in 2007.  Ms. Burns remains very active on Cape Cod and has served on numerous town and school search committees.  Since retiring, she established and currently serves as the president of the Professional Learning Communities Consultants; a business which promotes data driven instruction in schools.  She has also established and is the president of The Barnstable Education Foundation—a non-profit organization which raises funds to promote excellence and innovation in classroom educational instruction.  Ms. Burns is the aunt of an individual in the Adult Program of Latham Centers.

Mr. Malo earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from New England College.  He has been employed by Coastal Engineering Company, Inc. of Orleans for three decades.  He currently manages Coastal’s Survey Division and specializes in property surveys and site plan development for residential, commercial, and utility projects.  Additionally, he oversees Coastal’s Information Technology function.  He is a principal owner with Coastal Engineering and has held a seat on their Board of Directors since 1996.  Mr. Malo is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers and is a member of the Cape Cod Technology Council. He has volunteered his engineering expertise with various non-profits including the Barnstable Little League and the Cape Cod Challenger Club for children and young adults with disabilities. Mr. Malo is also Chair of the Second Annual Latham Charity Golf Classic to be held October 17th at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club.

More about Latham Centers
Founded in 1970, the mission of Latham Centers Inc. is to assist behaviorally, developmentally and physically-challenged children and adults to achieve their potential as responsible members of their community.  Latham is internationally recognized for its expertise and success in working with individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder with no known cure.  Latham Centers currently operates a residential school for children in Brewster and oversees eight group homes and independent and shared living environments for adults throughout Cape Cod. In the spring of 2011, Latham received full “fast-track” accreditation by the international Council on Accreditation.  For more information, visit our website by clicking HERE.

To view Latham’s new VIDEO promoting board involvement at Latham School CLICK HERE.

Contributed by:
Gerry Desautels (Dez-oh-tel), M.Ed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Word From The Director of Children's Services

I had a chance to talk to one of our parents recently.  She was asking me what our tuition rate was.   She was really surprised to hear how low our rate was, especially since the last program her daughter attended was significantly more than Latham per year.  She had a very bad experience with this previous program and had grown not to trust them to keep her daughter safe.  She has had a completely different experience at Latham.  She has had her confidence and trust restored and has nothing but great things to say about how well the staff treat her, her daughter, and how we do what we say we will do.  She loves that we are transparent, take responsibility when we make mistakes, and treat them all with respect.  Her daughter is not only safe but is flourishing.  She has volunteered to talk to prospective parents, as she did when she was considering placing her child with us.

It is so difficult handing the care of your child over to others.  Parents of children with PWS know all too well that people tend to minimize the syndrome and the importance of providing an environment that can not only keep your child safe but flourish as well.   The isolation from friends, family, and community that results is painful and little appreciated by others.  Latham gets it.

Jonathan Smith, LICSW
Director of Children’s Services

"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.  
One is roots.  The other is wings." 
~Hodding Carter, Jr.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Innovations in Special Education

Here at Latham Centers, our educational team is always researching and working with colleagues to improve our special education tools and approaches. I am writing to share with you some of the more recent additions to our special education program.

NEO2’s – as you may know we have 2 NEO’s in each classroom, available to all students.  These technology tools were formerly known as “Alphasmarts”. They are small, easy to use word processors that allow students to type responses and reports. They have word processing tools built into them, such as spell and grammar check. Recently, Latham staff enjoyed a presentation by Renaissance Learning and we are adding in IT stations to support best use of the NEO’s. With these new stations, students will now be able to receive and send messages from their teachers and print their work wirelessly and we will be able to help students build their academic skills and confidence level throughout all areas of the curriculum.

SPIRE Reading Program – Latham evaluates the reading skills of each new student upon admission. Students are placed into small reading groups with others who are reading at the same level in to support the most progress. After much research this past year, Latham has purchased the SPIRE Reading Program (Educators Publishing) for our students reading at the lower grade levels. The SPIRE program is based on Orton-Gillingham approaches. SPIRE teaches by direct precise instruction, beginning with sound awareness and proceeding through phonics, vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension. SPIRE includes visual presentations and manipulatives to support whole brain learning in addition to student readers, sound and word cards. Teacher Training for SPIRE will take place August 30. We are really looking forward to starting to use this program!

New Sensory Support Room – we have just opened our first sensory support room! This room, which is available to all students, has calming and alerting items which help students re-group or help them re-focus so that they can return to their classroom ready to learn. The room includes music, sensory tools, a "crash mat", small trampoline, rocking chairs, colorful “pretend” fish aquarium and other items. Students may use the room for 15 minutes each day without the need to make up work. We have the opportunity to review the success of the items in the room and to add to them when needed. 

"Know your limits, but never stop trying to exceed them." 
~Author Unknown