Monday, October 31, 2011

Latham Centers Sponsorship of the 2011 National PWSAUSA Conference Announced

Latham Centers will see you in Orlando! We are pleased to announce that Latham Centers is supporting the 2011 conference as a “Gold Level Sponsor” during the November 11th - 13th, 2011 National Conference.  We are delighted to be able to support the important work being done by the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (PWSAUSA), people with PWS, families and the professionals working with them. The 2011 conference will highlight the exciting new research and treatment options for children with PWS. It's the largest conference in the world designed specifically for those dealing with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Latham Centers is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation and offers programs for children and adults with PWS. We look forward to meeting you while at the conference. Please stop by our information booth to chat, learn about Latham Centers or purchase handmade soaps made by students with PWS. Be sure to enter the contest to win a Kindle! See you soon!

Chris Gallant
Director of Marketing & Training

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Latham Adult Speaks at End of Year Celebration

The adults of Latham are supported in many ways through every aspect of their life.  Recently, one individual was asked to speak at the end of the year celebration for his day program.  The following is a piece of the individual’s speech.

         “The program I participate in is the Life Skills program. What I like most about this program is its uniqueness from other day programs. I get to choose what activities I want to be in and if there is an activity that I don’t like I have an opportunity to switch that particular activity into something that I do like.

            I come to Life Skills four days a week and participate in a variety of activities including gym, bowling, walking, art, and finally, Newsletter which is really fun because I get to choose the article of my choice and write about that topic. Some of the topics I’ve done are the history of Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and finally, Flag Day.

           I feel that Life Skills is the right placement for me because while I’m there I learn the skills I need to become independent. I also go on fun field trips while I’m at Life Skills. Some of the trips I’ve gone on are: walking up the historical Provincetown Monument, pumpkin picking, tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory, and finally the New England aquarium. There is one special field trip that annually takes place in the summer which I really enjoy. It  is going to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to see the minor league team the Pawtucket Red Sox.”

West yarmouth

Contributed by:
Jeff Strimatis

Related Posts:
2010 End of Year Celebration
End of Summer Vacation
African Drumming is Good Medicine

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Abstract Art For The Concrete Thinker

Individuals with Prader Willi Syndrome have traditionally been described as “concrete thinkers” (Forster and Gourash 2005). Indeed, often at our children's program at Latham, we experience situations in which client stress is caused by deviations from perceptions of “how it should be."  Clothing, shower rituals, incomplete projects, expectations of winning a game have all, at times, triggered our kids. Perseveration, sticky thinking, and difficulty viewing another’s viewpoints have been characterized within this framework of cognitive rigidity. These characteristics have lent themselves to interests in activities such as color-by-numbers, sorting cards, and jigsaw puzzles.

So if they're that rigid, why would anyone take them to see abstract art? The simple answer is that they enjoy it. Since working with youth with PWS, we have made two trips to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. The first, two years ago, proved successful as students viewed the large scale work of Damian Ortega. The kids appeared hypnotized by a disassembled Volkswagen Beetle whose suspended parts they could gaze at from every angle. The Institute’s Mediatech room, too, offered interactive videos exploring the themes of globalization and its relation to art.

This year, again, we trekked from our Cape Cod campus, up Route 93, and parked next to the Boston Harbor where we picnicked with our lunches (...and fruit and flavored water and condiments and dressing). Once inside the museum, some students noticed that the work of Ortega had been displaced, but the current exhibits did not disappoint. The current theme was Dance/Draw, and the students engaged in several befitting exhibits. They watched a video of Janine Antoni dipping her own head of hair into ink and using it as a brush, and then looked up close at the creations this act spawned. They viewed with quiet curiosity Fiona Banner’s drawings of drawing books. They entered a room constructed by Faith Wilding who had crocheted a life-size spider web out of yarn. One student commented that it reminded her of Coraline; another, of Charlotte’s Web. They walked through another room to watch a 3D video, entitled Ghost Catching, in which lines of light that resembled stick figures moved through a choreographed space. “It's the Halloween room!” one student commented.

Many individuals with PWS have sensory processing difficulties (Miller 2007), and this could account for their interest and excitement for contemporary and abstract art. Much contemporary art not only engages the viewer but also invites the viewer into the piece with options for heightened awareness. Installations, videos, and the computer activity provided by the Mediatech room all provide examples of the way in which visual art can expand to fit the auditory and tactile needs of the viewer. Indeed, the way in which these students construct their own art with mixed media, clay, collage, and paint, reflects just how stimulated by sensory objects they can be. On our way back from the museum, the same student who obsesses over sorting beads yelled out “That was so cool!” Her comment spoke to a much larger lesson: because one thinks concretely, it doesn't mean she won't both enjoy and benefit from the abstract.

John Bonanni

Works Cited/Additional Resources

1.Forster, Janice and Linda M. Gourash. “Managing Prader Willi Syndrome: A primer for psychiatrits.”
Pittsburgh Partnership. 2005.
2. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
3. Ortega, Damien. Cosmic Thing.
4. Wallis, Claudia. “The Next Attention Deficit Disorder?” Time Magazine. 29 Nov 2007.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adults Enjoy Bowling With Sunshine Capers

Many of our adults enjoy spending Saturday mornings bowling with the Sunshine Capers, a Special Olympics Team that is based out of the Hyannis area.  The athletes bowl from early September until early April. They can choose from either candlepin or ten-pin bowling. From one end of the lanes to the other you can tell who has gotten a strike or a spare by the excitement that is generated by the whole team. The bowling alley hosts many different events throughout the year that adults like to participate in. It is getting close to Halloween and at the moment many of the bowlers are searching for just the right costume as there will be a parade around the lanes for the best costume. Monster Mash will be playing in the background and many will be dancing as they walk.

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. "
~Michael Jordan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Latham Welcomes Guests for Corrective Reading Training

Latham Educational Staff welcomed guests from the Sandwich Public Schools to participate in a training on McGraw Hill’s SRA Corrective Reading program. Educational Consultant Margaret Montgomery provided an engaging and thorough presentation on the Decoding and Comprehension strands of this structured reading program. Research-based, the Corrective Reading program is shown to be effective in improving student performance across all critical reading components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The program provides detailed data on each student’s performance and improvement.

"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know." 
~Daniel J. Boorstin

Friday, October 7, 2011

We Do Not Walk Alone

As the parent of two children with special needs (my boys have Fragile X Syndrome), I find myself relating to parents more and more as I travel down this road of early intervention and IEP meetings.   At the recent PWS conference that we sponsored with the PWS NE group and Advocates, I found myself teary eyed as the Doctor’s sang songs about PWS and showed a slide show.  I wondered how it affected the parents there and was able to ask a parent recently.   She shared a very similar response and shared some wisdom with me.  She said “walking down this road doesn’t get easier, it gets different.”  I have contemplated that and agree.  I think as you read the responses below you will find that you relate to these parents as well.  While I am extremely grateful to the professionals in my life, I find that the parent to parent connections to be my strongest as we walk this often emotional road with our children.  

At the last NY conference, parents were asked what their Fears, Hopes, Obstacles, and Stressors were during a Latham Centers presentation.  The responses collected are below:

  • Fears: Concerns regarding living situations, especially when parents are no longer able to provide care; lack of independence; that their child will be safe; that he’ll get a job.

  • Hopes: that their child will live a full life and be able to pursue goals and dreams, that she’ll live up to her potential, that he will hold a job and have a meaningful relationship; that he’s happy and comfortable and has the help he needs.

  • Obstacles: public knowledge of PWS; finding the best educational setting; having a son that does not like to work; having to fight with insurance companies; having so many doctor’s appointments; dealing with state agencies in trying to get help and funding; knowing what to push for and what to get our child at the right age.

  • Current stressors: a number of parents shared that trying to balance the needs of the child with PWS alongside the needs of siblings; helping siblings understand their brother/sister with PWS;  not knowing what the future holds; lack of support; no one understands; child that needs 1:1 attention 24/7; time management; dealing with the public humiliation during a tantrum.

My hope, if you felt like you were alone, you no longer feel that way. 

Contributed by:
Susan M. LaPlant
Admissions Coordinator

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Facilities and Maintenance News

Greetings from the Facilities/Maintenance Department. Its’ been a very busy summer for us with many projects completed and still in the works. The new Athletic Field & Track has been getting a great deal of use and enjoyment by the students and staff. This fall we will be reseeding the field again and improving it with the irrigation system which should be operational by the second week in October.
The black chain link fence in the front yard area will be removed soon, and this area will be used as an alternate athletic field while we reseed the main field.

We are just finishing up a major drainage project around the Schoolhouse building that will give us a dry, usable basement area. October 5th we will begin excavation of the area next to the Clinician’s Building to eliminate the water problems we have had in that basement. The old retaining wall that collapsed years ago will be removed, and a new stone block wall will be installed, as well as new steps with improved lighting for safety. The area around the Greenhouse will be cleared out and new plantings added as we did on the side of the Schoolhouse.  The group homes will also be getting a long needed facelift this fall, and even more improvements next Spring. There has been a great deal of attention needed by our properties, and although much has been accomplished, much more still needs to be done.

Facilities/ Maintenance Staff

"If you've never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine,  plant a garden".  
~Robert Brault

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

School Pictures

Many students chose to have individual and class pictures taken during the first weeks of school.  The pictures look wonderful and we have ordered some for the students. We are expecting the prints to arrive back this week so that each student who chose to have his/her picture taken will get two pictures back—one to keep, and one to give to a parent or caregiver. We still have a couple of class photos to take, but we’re holding out for the next sunny day on our campus!

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

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

~Jeremy Irons

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Education Department Participates in S.P.I.R.E Training

The Education Department participated in an informative hands-on training in one of our new reading programs: SPIRE (Specialized Program Individualizing Reading Excellence).  This is a research-based program that provides student with a direct, systematic, sequential approach to reading. Teachers were very enthusiastic about the program itself, and optimistic about the positive results it can bring for our students. 

The success of the SPIRE program is based on daily instruction that provides students with very specific work on phonological awareness, phonics, handwriting, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, and comprehension. We learned and practiced how to create daily 10-step lesson plans, along with some great ideas for making the lessons engaging and fun.

"Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old." 
~Robert Brault