Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Annual Family Picnic

Last Sunday was a picture perfect day for our Annual Family Picnic. Preceding the picnic the Annual Parent’s Meeting was held at our Great Hill residence. Approximately 20 parents, family members and/or guardians were in attendance. They met with the Director of Adult services to learn of the program’s accomplishments, developments and the challenges for the upcoming new year.

The picnic was held at Greys beach in Yarmouthport and attendance was a little more than 100 which included the individuals, staff, family and friends. A traditional barbeque of cheeseburgers with fruit salad, vegetable salad and pasta salad was enjoyed by all. After lunch was served the individuals enjoyed spending time with their families either sitting under the shade trees or on the beach swimming for the rest of the afternoon. You know you have met with success when the individuals are already asking about next year’s picnic.

Submitted by:
Cindy Loring

Friday, July 27, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Tough Decisions...Should We Consider a Residential Placement?

This can be a heart wrenching and confusing process. No one wants to have to make this decision but when your child is struggling at home or at school to the point where yours and their quality of life is suffering, it may be time to look at this option. No one knows or loves your child as much as you do but there are places that can nurture, teach and support your child to live to their full potential. There are things to consider when looking at a residential placement:

  • How experienced are they working with PWS?

  • Does the staff receive training to meet the needs of the students?

  • Are they active with PWSAUSA?

Talk to parents who already have children there. Are they happy? Have their children made progress?

Will your child have a peer group? Because children with PWS have such unique needs, they are often singled out in school and made to feel different. We see children who were the outcasts in their previous school who are suddenly popular and sought out for friendship after moving in.

Here are some quotes from parents of children who live here:

 " (My son) has friends, lots of friends. In my wildest dreams I never thought he would even have one friend. I was just happy when kids didn't pick on him. Now he has kids that want to be with him, really like him for him. Not because their mothers told them to be nice or to tolerate him".

" After ( my son ) moved I felt guilty, like I failed and had to give him to someone else to raise. Then he came home for his first home visit and I saw the boy I used to know. He wasn't only thinner but he was calmer, happier. It was then I realized that I made the best decision for him and for me."

" ( My daughter ) had taken our family hostage. My other kids were suffering, we walked on egg shells trying not to upset her. Making the decision to place her at Latham was still so hard but now she visits and we're more relaxed because she is. She calls and she sounds happy. She's working on skills to help her relax and it seems to be working because now when she visits my other kids want to spend time with her."

" The first night he was at Latham I slept. I mean really slept, like the whole night! Then I realized that I think it was the first time I'd slept in 16 years."

We know that the decision for residential placement is a difficult one but sometimes it is necessary for the quality of life of you and your family. We are here if you want to discuss options or even if you just want to drop by and visit. We understand that your child is unique and also understand the unique needs of PWS. Don't hesitate to give us a call, we are here for you.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Member of the Admissions Team!

Latham Centers welcomes Rachel Dewees to the admissions team. Rachel is excited to share her enthusiasm and knowledge of our services with interested families and professionals. She has worked in Children’s Services and most recently was a 1:1 Counselor in our Adult Program. Rachel joins Susan LaPlant and Chris Gallant in the admissions office on the campus in Brewster.  

The mission of Latham Centers is to compassionately and creatively help children and adults with complex special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome, lead meaningful, abundant lives. We welcome your inquiries about our menu of services.

Submitted by,
Chris Gallant
VP, Marketing, Training & Quality Assurance

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer at Latham

What is the best part of summer on the Cape while working at Latham Centers? The sound of kids playing is hard to beat. As I sit in my office I smile as I hear the joyful sounds of kids on swings, kids playing ball and riding their bikes. The excitement of field trips, swimming at the ponds, beach walks and summer league baseball games make counselors and students alike look forward to warm, sunny days.

School staff keep lessons interesting and related to activities happening around Cape Cod. Kids benefit from time spent with teachers and aides reviewing and introducing new material that will help prepare them for the coming school year. All throughout the program, music, art, crafts and exercise round out an especially vibrant schedule of fun activities.  Child care workers help prepare students for bed, then begin the process of helping them get ready for a new day on the campus. The collected wisdom and collaboration of all groups make for a great 2012 summer program. Keep that sunscreen applied and go out and have fun!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Sunday, July 22, 2012


The guys at Headwaters Drive have enjoyed many fishing and crabbing outings this summer.  Some of the favorite spots are Sandy Pond in Yarmouth, a pond near the Cranberry Bog in Harwich and Bell’s Neck.  The guys budget money for supplies, which they purchase at the local bait shop.  It’s been a fun way for them to explore Cape Cod. Many of the trips have been successful, with blue crabs being the favorite to fish for.  The fishermen have made friends with some vacationers, as well as local community members as they all share the same goal of bringing in the catch of the day.

Submitted by:
Jeff Strimaitis
Adult Supervior

"Good things come to those who bait." 
~Author Unknown

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Executive Function Disorder

We see common traits and behaviors in many of our kids with PWS and many of these are caused by an Executive Dysfunction Disorder. Executive processes allow us to create and carry through with goals, to self-monitor and regulate our emotions, to plan, and to inhibit our responses (think before acting). People with PWS have a deficiency in these areas which leads to:
  • Poor time management- this will look like avoiding a task and then rushing through at the last minute.
  • An inability to form goals because the ability to create steps to achieve those goals is impaired.
  • Inflexibility in thinking. If something is true one day then it must be true the next day in order for it to make sense.
  • Relying on imitation rather than a thoughtful reaction. It is difficult to understand their environment and therefore people with PWS will often look to others to see how to react. This can be good or bad depending on who the other people are around them.
  • Impaired capacity to think before acting.

What can we do about it?

This is where daily schedules and strict routines come into play. We manage their time for them until they can learn how to do it for themselves. We have seen children who had no capacity to manage their own time learn over the course of a few years through daily work on what 5 minutes looks like, what we mean when we say one hour etc.. Children who have been working on creating goals for themselves and what steps they need to take to achieve those goals were once children who could not manage the sequence of dressing themselves. So we do see improvement with practice.

Social stories can help to make children see that they have a choice in every situation and do not need to rely on others to see what their response should be.

A neat, clean and predictable environment. The less clutter in a room the better. It is hard enough for our kids to concentrate and focus as it is and in a busy, loud or cluttered room it is nearly impossible.

Visual schedules for each part of the day, these can be vague in case specific activities need to be changed.

Undesired behaviors are often seen as being stubborn, manipulative or aggressive when in fact they are usually a result of feeling out of control in their environment as a result of the inability to process, manage time and space and inhibit their responses to stress.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Team Latham10 Falmouth Road Race Count Down

Ten dedicated Latham Charity runners are busily
training and fundraising in preparation of the 40th running of the Falmouth Road Race on August 12, 2012.

Of the ten individuals, one is a Latham summer intern, five are Latham employees, another is a Latham student, and the remaining three are generous, community-minded Latham supporters.  While their ages range by four decades, they are bonded by a commitment to helping raise funds for programs and services for Latham’s children and adults with complex special needs.

Please join Latham in thanking and congratulating the members of Team Latham Ten:
Liam Bokanovich, Scott Esselman, Kalyn Mika, Ryan M., Jeremiah Nickerson, Sean Patrick Nolan, Gerry Pouliot, Sean Riley, Nancy Warner, and Chris White.

To sponsor one of these individuals or collectively sponsor them under Latham Centers, visit the Crowdrise Web page by clicking HERE
If you have already given, THANK YOU!

All proceeds will help fund new Special Olympic uniforms for the Latham Hawks, and other Special Olympic and enrichment activities for our individuals.

Donations can also be mailed in and made payable to:
Latham Centers-Road Race
Attn: Gerry Desautels
14 Lots Hollow Road
Orleans, MA  02653

If you are inclined, please share the opportunity with friends, family and community members and help Team Latham10 realize or even exceed its fundraising goal of $10,000 or higher by August 12th.  

For more information:
Contact Gerry Desautels
VP of Development at Latham Centers
774-353-9296 or gdes@lathamcenters.org.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Latham Students Go On a Whale Watch in Provincetown

Latham students had an amazing opportunity to go on a campus wide outing to a whale watch in Provincetown recently.  There were 14 students who were able to attend, and a great time was had by all. The weather was perfect, but the seas were a bit rocky. The students handled themselves well and had a blast spending time together out on the open ocean.

For many of our students this was their first whale watch. Many of our students are from various states and have never had an opportunity to see a whale in their natural environment.
The students saw some Minkies and Finback whales.  Minkies being the fastest whale in the ocean and Finbacks’ being one of the largest.  The crew on the boat gave the students a lot of information about whales, and the students soaked it all up. We even got to see a baby seal. The students learned that a baby seal weans from their mother only four weeks after they’re born and then they live on their own. 

It was a wonderful outing and a great learning experience for everyone.

Submitted by:
Frannie Quirk

Friday, July 13, 2012


We received several requests for a tip of the week that addresses how to explain PWS to your child. This is an important part of not only your child's growth and understanding of the syndrome, but for yours. PWS is a journey, it is challenging and frightening at times and at other times it is joyous and rewarding. You did not ask to be the parent of a child with PWS but you wouldn't give them back for all of the money in the world! Parents and other family members go through a range of emotions when they receive the diagnoses and you spend years educating doctors, family members and teachers but we sometimes forget the most important person who needs to be educated- the child themselves. There is no right age to start talking to your child about the syndrome as long as you keep in mind your child's ability to process information. You know your child and what information they can understand. Keep it simple and avoid words such as " problem" or "disability". Labels are hard for anyone but especially hurtful to a child.

Emphasize what your child can do and avoid telling him or her that they will never be able to do something, instead talk about what you know they will be able to do. Often when your child meets other kids with PWS it can be eye opening for them. Even if your child has not expressed feeling lonely or different, meeting other kids with PWS can be an opportunity to feel accepted. Most importantly, let the conversation be open and have it as often as your child wants or needs. Some families read stories such as "Michael and Marie" or listen to " I have Prader-Willi but my name's not Willi" every night. Others just answer questions as they come up. No one knows your child better than you do, you are the expert. Trust your judgment and always remember that we are here to help if you need advice or guidance.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Several weeks ago, Latham Centers was delighted to find out that many people interested in our programs were from around the globe. In order to help make your access to our information easier, we have added a  “Translate” drop down menu on our blog site. Just scroll down the page and look on the right-hand side. We hope that this added feature will help you in your search for information and support!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

3rd International PWS Caregivers’ Conference in Germany News

Patrice Carroll, Latham’s Manager of PWS Services, and I were fortunate to be able to attend the 3rd International PWS Caregivers’ Conference in Germany.  It was pretty amazing to meet people from all over the world who are doing the same type of work as we are.  One of the conference sessions we both attended was directed toward creating PWS Training Curricula for new staff members. This involved a lot of brainstorming and extensive discussion about all aspects of our work. Ultimately, though the conference participants were from so many different places in the world, it was clear that our experiences of working with individuals with PWS were extremely similar in many ways.

It was exciting to be part of such a planning session, and I felt so energized by the level of motivation, passion, and compassion conveyed by all of the other participants. I believe our collective efforts were helpful in steering the training curricula in a productive and positive direction. I know that it was helpful for both of us to share our experiences and knowledge with so many others, and that we gained a wealth of information from, and built bridges with, our international colleagues.

Pam Nolan
Director of Education

Monday, July 9, 2012

Latham Recycles!

To close out the school year the students at Latham participated in a paper recycling project during science class. We had a long discussion about how much paper we use on a daily basis (a staggering amount) and we talked about how things sent to a landfill or “dump” just sit there, while if we recycle them they are sent to a facility where they can be turned into new products. The students then collected newspapers, old worksheets, construction paper and more waste from around the school so they could recycle it into new paper. Every student was given the opportunity to create a new sheet of paper using nothing more than a blender, hot water, and a piece of screen with a frame to collect the pulp. After taking a day to dry we had a unique collection of colorful sheets of paper and a good understanding of just how easy it is to reduce waste. Hopefully now our students will think twice before tossing their paper in the trash.

Submitted by:
Jeremiah Nickerson

"When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world."
~John Muir

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Many students diagnosed with PWS have some cognitive and behavioral difficulties in school. All students have different learning styles, rates, strengths, and areas of need. Some classroom strategies that Latham educators frequently use have proven to be very effective. Parents may want to consider these ideas when developing an Individualized Education Plan:
  • Classroom environment: food secure environment; seating to reduce distractions; minimize visual and auditory distractions; provide a quiet space to work without distractions, as needed; provide space for movement or sensory breaks; make sure the environment is tidy and well- organized; provide a visual schedule of the day.
  • Curriculum: Modified to meet the student’s individual working ability; tailor lessons to meet each student’s optimal learning style; have stories available in a variety of formats (print, on tape/cd, large print); integrate teaching organizational skills into lessons, for example: color code student work for each subject with a different color marker and provide file folders of those colors for students to file their work into; teach problem solving skills; pair functional academic learning with real-life community experiences to help boost students’ independence.
  • Sensory Tools: Sensory Integration theory teaches that the ability of the vestibular system to modulate sensory input has a powerful impact on the development of functional skills. Once students’ sensory-motor preferences and sensory hypersensitivities are determined, teachers can incorporate tools and activities into the class that will help each student remain at a “just right” feeling of arousal. Sensorimotor integration can decrease habitual, repetitive behaviors. 
The specific techniques used will depend on the desired outcome. A child who presents as tired or fatigued for much of the day may benefit from arousal techniques such as sour spray, therabands for hands and feet,  and yellow or orange light products. For a child with tactile difficulties the use of vibration throughout the day may help him or her accept being touched or being in close proximity to others with greater ease.
Lesson Presentation: Use visual references to help students understand lesson information; Provide extra time for processing information; check in regularly with students to ensure they understand the lesson; provide cues and prompts and close adult assistance to help students remain focused and on-task.

Submitted by:
Pam Nolan, M.Ed.

"You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way." 
~Marvin Minsky

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summertide 2012!

Latham’s summer program, known by all at Latham as Summertide, began Monday, July 2nd. As in past years, students attend academic classes in the morning and Summer Classes in the afternoon that combine academics with fun. This year’s summer classes will offer many opportunities for students to experience areas of interest, and many opportunities to explore the Cape Cod community. All students will explore Cape Cod beaches once a week in the Swim Club, and the animals on Cape Cod in their weekly Science Class. Science trips will focus on local birds at the Wellfleet Audubon Society, seals on the Monomoy Island Excursion, and the feeding of fish and learning how modifications have been put in place to protect fish from natural predators at the Sandwich Fish Hatchery.

Look carefully if you pass Stony Brook Grist Mill and you might see Latham students, armed with nets, exploring the stream and surrounding woodlands.  A summer would not be summer if the study of science did not also bring students to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History to learn about the fascinating world of creatures that live in, on and under the Cape’s mudflats during an afternoon of Mudflat Mania. Other choices for afternoon classes are Theater, Pottery, Newsletter, International Art, Vocational Exploration and Latham’s first Biking Club. Staff and students alike are anxiously awaiting Latham’s 11th Summertide!

Submitted by:
Kathy Thonet
Assistant Principal