Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall Biking Club

Katie O’Hara with the help of Mary Ware and Kelsey Galer have been leading an after school “Fall Biking Club”. Their expeditions started out with a four mile adventure but students have done so well, some have moved up to eight miles! They are planning a great ride to Marconi Beach with a picnic soon to follow in October. At this rate, the Tour de France can’t be far away!

Thanks to Katie and Mary and other staff to help all of our students experience beautiful Cape Cod with all it has to offer in the fall.

"Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, 
you must keep moving" 
~Albert Einstein

Monday, October 29, 2012

Maintenance Fall Update

Maintenance is in the process of fall cleanup at the campus and all the off campus homes.  Our newest employee Joe Goodinson is our primary landscape person.  He will be in charge of all the leaf cleanup and final mowing for this year.  If you need maintenance assistance on any ground issues that we have not addressed, please submit a Maintenance Request.

We get many requests as we walk around the campus sent to us through emails, via phone calls or while working off campus at homes.  No work can be done without a work order (unless it is an emergency). Just a reminder to all about the importance of using Schooldude for your Maintenance and Inventory Requests.  Maintenance Direct was started here at Latham in 2009. Since then we have processed over 9800 work orders.  So far this year we have had over 2000 work orders.

Submitted by:
Barbara Hill

"How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days." 
~John Burroughs

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Healthy Choices & Nutritious Cooking Course

The Nursing Department will be working on a Healthy Choices/Nutritious Cooking Course scheduled to begin by January, 2013. The course will be a collaborative effort between Anne Seyffert, RN and Gerry Pouliot, Assistant Principal. Anne will work with the students while Gerry will focus on creating the lesson plans. Some of the highlights will include:
  • Increasing the nutritional value of favorite foods by decreasing unhealthy fats and sugars
  • Using seasonal ingredients
  • Cooking hygiene
  • Aesthetic presentation of meals
  • Using herbs and spices for flavor
The course will include trips to farms, farmers markets and grocery stores to help students appreciate the importance of fresh produce in their diet. Students will also learn to read labels as a part of their understanding of the importance to limit the intake of sodium, carbohydrates and fats found in processed foods. Anne will be working with the students on meal preparations and presentation. Students who have been asked about participation in such a class were very excited and are looking forward to the experience.

Once established, we plan to move the course to other residences with the ultimate goal to increase healthy habits that students will take with them on their journey to adulthood.

Submitted by:
Lauralee Schiraga, RN
Director of Nursing

“Until I discovered cooking, I was never really interested in anything.” 
~Julia Child

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding Your Way

I get lost often. Usually the only thing I lose is time. I have developed a “10 minute” window that I add to my driving time allowing me the inevitable wrong turn corrector. I thought the development of the GPS would eliminate my need for the extra time but I never count on it getting me to my destination. Those of you who are like me are familiar with the “recalculating” comment coming from the dashboard. Recently, I was driving my way around Italy and needed to return the rental car to the airport. I plugged in the airport name & city to the GPS and started on my journey. According to the device, there was no airport. Nothing. Now, having landed there, I knew it existed; the GPS it seems, didn’t.  Because I get lost often,  I had planned a dry run to the airport the day before my flight—better to find this out at 1pm in daylight than at 4am in the dark! So, with my trusty companion (not the GPS), off we went looking for the way to the airport. We got close, lost, circled the city, took some wrong turns, circled the airport, got close again, lost again and “voila!” found the smallest sign in the history of rental car returns and now knew where we had to go. 

Sometimes, finding the right help for your child and your family is much the same. You think you have the right tools and information only, the service you need, the school you have identified, the specialist you have searched for, isn’t taking new patients and you go in circles trying to find your way to get there. It’s frustrating, stressful and seemingly just out of your reach. So, share what you have learned with each other. Be each other’s shortcut. Lately I have found the best advice coming from the folks who have already been there and it has made my journey less complicated. Then be sure to return the favor to another family in need. Pay it forward. By the way, at the rotary to the Florence airport, the rental car sign is at the very bottom. Make your first right after the sign…

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." 
~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, October 19, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Purposeful Community Outings

At Latham School, one of the goals of our program is to help students prepare for adult living. In order to help this happen, we make an assessment of each individual’s understanding of basic community resources, such as using public transportation; reading a basic map; going to a local store. We then assess each person’s ability to read and/or understand street signs and basic rules of the road; their knowledge of how to navigate simple directions; and their ability to pay for a purchase and correctly manage change. A tip that has worked well for us is to pair trips into the community with the specific skills we are hoping to teach each individual. While this can require a lot of 1:1 support,  we find that the most meaningful trips begin with concrete explanations of the goal(s) of the community trip, along with step-by-step advance notice of what the student can expect to encounter on the trip. Also, a concrete review of the skill(s) that the student will be practicing on the outing.

These steps, along with a staff person’s support and ongoing discussion and review of the skills being practiced will help to build the student’s ability to be as independent in the community as possible. The repeated practice and discussion of the trips serves to boost the individual’s confidence in his/her ability to successfully navigate basic community outings with fading staff support.

Submitted by:
Pam Nolan
Director of Children’s Services

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Election Day is November 6th.  Are you ready to vote? I need to get to the airport to make a flight on Election Day so I can’t get to the polls. I can still vote though and encourage everyone to plan ahead. Do you know your options? If not, be sure to check in at your local town hall, city government location (in person, by phone or on-line), or with the League of Women Voters website: Don’t miss your opportunity to make your opinion count!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

“Democracy is not just the right to vote, it is the right to live in dignity.”
~Naomi Klein

Monday, October 15, 2012

Community Meeting Rocks!

Latham School had its October community meeting and I must tell you how amazing it was! Kids welcomed new staff, staff welcomed new kids, awards were announced & received and a birthday was celebrated! But to me, the most meaningful and moving part is the student affirmations. Their words were heartfelt and generous. I am inspired by their courage and so proud to see how hard they have worked and the support they give one another. 

Thank you, Latham School. You once again have put it all into perspective!

Submitted by
Chris Gallant

"None of us is as smart as all of us." 
~Ken Blanchard

Friday, October 12, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Support for Siblings

How do we support brothers and sisters of kids with PWS while keeping food secure, routines on track and resentment from brewing?

Siblings of kids with special needs have unique challenges. Some kids may feel angry at their sibling with special needs because they may feel that they are not as important, or that all the attention goes to their sibling. They may feel that many family plans get ruined or postponed because of their sibling's behaviors. These are natural and expected feelings. As your children get older it will be easier to explain more complex concepts and with age often comes greater empathy and understanding. Some tips that may help:
  • Schedule time to spend with your children alone, away from their sibling with PWS.
  • Give them a space where they can keep their belongings safe. If something is broken or taken, ask your child with PWS to do something nice for their sibling to make up for their loss.
  • If an event may be too stressful for your child with PWS, don't bring them. Every member of the family does not need to attend every event.
  • Allow your children to have their feelings. Let them know that it is ok to feel angry, embarrassed or afraid at times. Letting your children express these feelings will allow them to experience the good feelings too.
Ultimately the siblings of our kids with PWS will be the people responsible for their care and support in the later years. Studies have shown that siblings of children with special needs grow up to be adults who show greater flexibility, tolerance, compassion, sensitivity, and problem solving skills than those with typical siblings.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Autumn on Cape Cod: A Transitional POV

Some people look at the coming of the Fall season and ooh and ahh over the foliage, brisk temperatures and the scent of wood burning from chimneys. I just want to let you know that it is 239 days until Summer!  Perspective is everything! I don’t like this, not at all. It is dark in the morning and dark before dinner. It will only get worse before it gets better.  I admit it, I get grumpy-- or as my family and co-workers inform me, I get grumpier at this time of year.  So, knowing this about myself, I try and temper my annoyance with nature. After all, I live in New England, not Florida. This is what I should expect. But change is still hard.

I would like all of us to remember that transitions can be difficult for our students and individuals. Transitions, big ones and small ones can throw off your mood or your whole day.  Less daylight can be a big issue for kids getting up in the morning. Wearing different clothing may be uncomfortable to someone with sensory challenges.  Remembering to wear a hat or jacket; this might take many patient reminders on the caregivier’s part or be helped by visual reminders placed on doors.

School to home, awake to bedtime, warm days to cold-- transitions are everywhere.  Remember,   what may be easy for you to adjust to may be difficult for a person with developmental challenges. Putting away my flip flops for shoes, I cry with despair…

Submitted by,
Chris Gallant

"Things do not change; we change."  
~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do You Really Make a Difference?

Sometimes staff wonder, am I really making a difference?
Will this student benefit from her time with us?
Should I care so much?

Here is proof that your time as a mentor, coach, teacher, counselor, nurse, clinician or child care worker is vital and important. What you do matters and no one can say it more eloquently than a student you are helping. The Latham Centers Core Values have never been more clear to me after reading the following letter:

·         We believe in the power of relationships.
·         We listen.
·         We courageously do what is right.
·         We strive for innovation and excellence

Contributed by:
Jonathan Smith

Friday, October 5, 2012

TIP of the WEEK: Going to the Doctor

Taking your child to the doctor can be a stressful experience but some preparations ahead of time can make for a more successful visit.
  • Bring someone with you. Another set of ears will help to be sure that you heard all of the information. If you don't have the option to bring someone with you then take notes and don't be afraid to ask the doctor to repeat what he or she said.
  • Write your questions down ahead of time and keep asking until you get an answer that you understand. If your doctor says that they have PWS experience, clarify what that means. One patient 5 years ago does not qualify as experience.
  • Ask for a double appointment when you schedule a visit if you know that you need that extra time. It is easy to feel rushed once the doctor comes in the room so tell them ahead of time that you'll need more time.
  • You know your child and you know when something is wrong. If you feel like you are not being heard then it's time to switch doctors.
  • If you need to go to the emergency room be sure to bring the medical alert information from PWSAUSA. It is unlikely that ER staff will read something if you hand it to them so highlight the most important parts and read them out loud to staff.
The more comfortable you are with your child's doctor, the more comfortable your child will be. You are your child's best advocate, you know them better than anyone else so make sure that your concerns are heard. There are amazing doctors out there, find them and keep them!

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuition Reimbursement Program

It's already October – this year is flying by!  We have had our Tuition Reimbursement program in place for almost 10 months already– and it is off to a wonderful start.  What a wonderful experience it is to see the pride in someone’s eyes when they have met their goal and are continuing with their professional growth.   

Congratulations to those folks who have received reimbursements and best wishes to those currently working towards their goals. We are looking forward to processing more throughout the fiscal year.

Submitted by:
Betty Gray
HR Specialist

"Money often costs too much." 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 1, 2012

Latham Students visit Otis Air Force Base

One of the great things about living on Cape Cod is the variety of resources that surround us on this sandy peninsula. We were fortunate to visit the good people at Otis recently and spend some time with them!

Submitted by:
Frannie Quirk