Friday, November 29, 2013

TIP of the WEEK: Giving Thanks

Traditionally this is the week that we reflect on the things in our lives that we are thankful for, the people and relationships that bring us joy. But what do we do when those very people are causing us so much turmoil and stress? There are families that are currently going through crisis with their children, battling behaviors that those outside of the PWS community cannot even comprehend and although the rest of the world is giving thanks, those families are crying for help, feeling hopeless and asking why this is the life that they were given. For those families I want to say: hold on, don't give up. It may be so hard to believe but this will not last and you will make it through. Try not to compare yourself or your child to anyone else, even if they are the same age and same developmental level. Everyone experiences PWS differently and it is not your fault that your child is having these challenges. Take time to look back to better times and remember the feelings that you had then because those feelings will return. Try not to isolate even if you feel like no one understands. Reach out to online groups if you do not have friends who have children with PWS (and most people do not). Call agencies for guidance, we take calls from parents regularly and are always happy to listen and give what advice we can. Use the resources from PWSAUSA, there are caring and experienced people on the other end of the phone and they want to help you. So even if it seems like you are alone and desperate, remember that there are people here to help and families that have gone through similar situations and come out intact on the other side. And give thanks even if the list is short because this time of challenge will pass and happiness will return to your family.

P.S please remember to assign one person to watch your kids this Thursday. Consider it the equivalent of a "designated driver". One person remains accountable, a group assumes that someone else is doing the job. Take time to review the signs of gastric distress and seek immediate medical help if necessary. Have a great holiday and don't forget to thank all those in your child's life that make a choice to be there. No one can care for and love your child like you do but we come a close second!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

"If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking." 
~Buddhist Saying

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wisdom From Others...

Different Yet the Same

I just returned from parent/ teacher conferences for my fourteen year old daughter. Her teachers were full of praise for her academic achievements, her inquisitiveness and her kindness. Last week I had a quarterly meeting for my 17 year old son with prader-willi syndrome. There his teachers shared with me the progress he had made, what was challenging for him and what an inquisitive and kind young man he was. As all parents I am brimming with pride and realize that all the hard work of parenting is beginning to show itself. Certainly parenting my son has been much more difficult and challenging and will never end. My children are certainly different in a multitude of ways. However it is their kindness that makes them the same at the core and what I am most proud of.

Submitted by:
Susan Packard

Monday, November 25, 2013

Latham Gets It

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! And all of a sudden I have a memory flash of Mr. Rogers walking through his front door. Boy, I haven’t reminisced about that wonderful PBS show in a long time! Now, back to my original thought—it is gorgeous, if just a tad bit chilly outside.  My toes continue to be exposed in flip-flops because I am stubborn and set a date rather than a temperature to move to more weather appropriate shoe choices. I have a very warm office being near the copy machine and while it is annoyingly hot most of the year, I appreciate it today.

As many of you know, I’ve been on the road lately and it was wonderful chatting with people about Latham School and Gilbough, our adult program for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome.  I am proud of the work being done by our dedicated professionals and always happy to meet families and share information.  They often ask, “What does Latham do?” I love talking about Latham and I try in a very short period of time, to give an overview of our programs. Often, I look at the parent and usually end with “Latham gets it.” And we do. Three conferences later and I am heading back to Cape Cod.

It is good to be home and it is good to be back on campus. I like it here. My oasis is not for everyone and at times, it can be loud. I would be more concerned of a quiet place that is “home away from home” for 45 students! Amongst the noise I can identify the sounds of laughter, excitement, learning, sportsmanship, friendship. I can also hear sadness, frustration, panic and anger. What I find remarkable as I work in my office upstairs away from the day to day activities of kids, is the comforting sounds of staff. Respectful and caring, but firm, giving support and structure to those whose coping skills challenge them in school, with friends, with emotions and with stress. We help them navigate and find their place in the world, giving them the tools they will need to succeed and thrive. I think to myself as I listen, this is what I want families to know about Latham and why Latham gets it.

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

“Home is the nicest word there is.”
 ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Latham Annouces Playhouse Raffle Winners!

Thank you to all who participated in the 13th Annual Cape Associates Playhouse Raffle to Benefit the individuals at Latham Centers

During the months of June and October you may remember purchasing raffle tickets for the charming yellow replica of Captain Elisha Bangs' home on Latham Centers' school campus in Brewster built and designed by Cape Associates. Latham Centers had a goal of $10,000. For the raffle Latham Centers sold approximately 1,700 raffle tickets to some 600 individuals, raising $13,000. This number is truly astounding, and all ticket proceeds will help enrich programs and services for the children and adult residents living at the Latham School and Latham Residences. Your participation has helped to make the lives better for the individuals with complex special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome, who reside at Latham Centers. The highly anticipated winning ticket was drawn on October 21st, 2013.

Claudia and Bruce Drucker of Wellfleet, the winning couple, have been enamored by the detail of this replica since they first saw it on the side of Route 6 in Brewster. Annually, the Druckers have purchased raffle tickets for the Cape Associates Charity Playhouse Raffle, supporting a slew of non-profits on Cape Cod. On Halloween Day the playhouse landed at its home in Wellfleet near town center. Gushing about how the design of the playhouse mirrors the design of her own home, she elaborates, "I plan on creating a garden of daffodils surrounding the playhouse, and working  with my grandchildren picking stencils and paint for the currently unfinished interior. I look forward to when it will be fully furnished and an established part of our property." Click HERE to view the article from the November 7th, 2013 Provincetown Banner.

Visit to view all of the runner-up prize winners, or to learn more about Latham Centers.

To make an end of year donation to Latham Centers' programs, click HERE.

 Thank you again for your participation!

The Latham Centers Team

Flag Football at Gillette Stadium

On Sunday, November 17th, the Flag Football games were a huge success at Gillette Stadium.  The kids did a great job handling the long day, and managed the weather (it started to rain the last couple hours) without issue. We won 1 of our 3 games, but all the kids played and the team spirit was amazing. We placed fourth in our division.  

All the kids did a great job and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  In the lead up to the competition, the students made it to all of the practices and supported each other. We were lucky enough this year to see and give high fives to several of the Patriots. Bob Kraft came out, and even Tom Brady spoke to the kids. This year the Patriots were heading off for an away game that would be seen on Monday Night Football but they took time to come out and say hi. All of us were so excited that the kids and staff got to see them. It was a dream come true for all of us!!!

Thank you Mary Ware for your amazing help throughout the season, and jumping in to play when we needed her.  You’re an amazing leader and I’m so grateful for all your support. Thank you to Alanna Murphy and Emily Mann for coming to support the kids, and giving us a helping hand. They stuck with us all day, and it made the kids so happy to see them.  Thank you Barbara for packing all the meds, and having them ready for us.  Thank you again to all of the staff for helping these kids get here. It is an amazing experience I am grateful and honored to be a part of. 

Go Hawks!!!!

Submitted by:
Frannie Quirk

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Season of Giving…

Annually we celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now it is time we celebrate together as the Latham Family, a Season of Giving.
Just around the corner is #GivingTuesday, December 3rd. This new day on the calendar is bringing together a network of generous and creative people who want to remind the world that the holidays are about giving back. The collective impact of their donations, voices, volunteer hours, and resources will help increase and enhance giving around the world. 

To mark these momentous days, we invite you to give a year-end gift to Latham in honor of our students and adult residents with complex special needs.

Your tax-deductible gift helps us to fund life-transforming programs for Latham students and adult residents like Evie T.  Read her heartwarming story in our Annual Fund letter written by Evie's Mom--a new member of the Latham Board of Directors HERE.  

Rest assured, your compassionate, philanthropic support on National Philanthropy Day, Giving Tuesday or any other time of the year, will help provide cutting-edge educational and program support for the amazing individuals who call Latham home.

As you can read, there are many ways to give with many important reasons.  Want to learn even more?  Have an advance peak at Latham's Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Report in the mail to our supporters now HERE.

Thank you for your online donation.

Prefer to mail your gift? Please make payable to Latham Centers at:
Latham Centers
14 Lots Hollow Road
Orleans, MA   02653

Thank you for your kindness.  All of us at Latham wish you a Happy and Joyous Holiday Season,

Gerry Desautels
VP of Development & Community Outreach

P.S. Contact us directly to learn more at or 774 353 9296 or or 774 353 9126.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Latham Centers: Have Suitcase, Will Travel

Patrice with Tanya & Keegan Johnson, FPWR
Patrice Carroll, Patricia Morgan, Pam Nolan, Gerry Pouliot with Mickey

Latham Centers is traveling. Interest in our programs  continues to grow exponentially as awareness of the services we offer extends beyond our state's borders. Recently Latham participated in the PWSAUSA National Conference, both as a sponsor and presenter. Our booth was active with families seeking information and support for their loved ones with Prader-Willi Syndrome. We also caught up with old and new friends as well as other providers and medical professionals supporting families on this journey that we share. The following week, Patrice headed to NYC to attend the FPWR (Foundation for Prader Willi Research) Gala where the focus shifts to PWS research and a celebration of many successful fund-raising benefits held throughout 2013. This event shines a light on the growing work of FPWR around the world in their support of PWS research. Finally in our on-going efforts to get the word out to educational consultants across the country, Latham participated in the IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) Conference. As a member of ISPA (Independent Small Program Alliance) Latham shared information about the great work being done  in our programs on Cape Cod and invited them to come and see the transformative work being done by our students and staff. All in all, a busy, but productive 10 days!

If we somehow managed to miss meeting you, just give us a call or send us an email. Questions on admissions or a program visit should be directed to: Susan LaPlant

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Friday, November 15, 2013

TIP of the WEEK: Preparing for Winter

In New England preparing for winter typically means snow tires, weather proofing windows and stocking cabinets but there is more to consider if you have a child with PWS.

  1. Be mindful of the change in daylight. If your child has spent the first two months of school waking up with the sun and now suddenly has to wake and get ready in the dark you may see a change in behavior. Even slight changes in routine and environment can cause havoc and if your child cannot tell time he or she may rely heavily on how light or dark it is outside.

  2. Children and adults with PWS are more susceptible to hypothermia. This is especially problematic because most cannot accurately report pain or discomfort which are the first signs of cold weather related illnesses. Pay close attention to skin color, texture, behavior and time spent outside in the cold. Direct exposure to freezing temperatures should be extremely limited.

  3. Cold weather brings dry skin which brings temptation. When skin is dry it becomes itchy and this is when we see an increase in picking. This is also true for chapped lips. Use plenty of lotion and chap stick to reduce cracked and itchy skin.

  4. Have a pre-planned routine for snow days. There should be a written schedule that can be presented to your child ahead of time in the event that school is cancelled. Because we often do not know until the morning of, we can't let our kids know ahead of time which is ideally how we handle this kind of a change.

We'd love to hear your ideas for getting through the winter months!

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Related Posts:
Transitioning to Winter
A Winter Landscape
Greetings From Facilities!

"Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, 
but I love you nonetheless."
~Terri Guillemets

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clean-Up Day Success!

Latham Centers recently acquired the New England Fire and History Museum on Route 6A in Brewster – just down the street from Latham School. The property, transferred to Latham from the former museum’s Board of Trustees, will afford Latham tremendous possibilities for recreational, vocational and community programming.

On October 26th, we held a Community Clean-up Day on the property, which was a resounding success!  The weather was spectacular. We had over 40 participants and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  We started the day hopeful, and after coffee and donuts, headed out to take back the land from the weeds. Our maintenance department was there in full force directing our efforts, and we had wonderful support from Latham staff, board members, friends from the community, and some very special help from Police Chief Koch; Fire Chief Morin, and Town Manager, Charlie Sumner.  Many brought chain saws and we rented a chipper, all of which really helped us get the job done.  Our rubbish removal company, M.A. Frazier, donated a large dumpster, as well as Chase and Merchant of Dennisport, which we quickly filled.  We had a great lunch from CafĂ© Alfresco , including hot dogs, sandwiches and cookies, delivered by our VP of Development and Community Outreach, Gerry Desautels, and by the end of the day, we had completely taken down all the overgrowth that surrounded the buildings.   

Thanks so much to all who made the day happen!
Stay tuned as we solidify our plans for the property to benefit the children and adults in our programs.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Latham School Student Art Graces Brewster Ladies’ Library this November

Reception Friday, November 15th Open to the Public

Latham School of Brewster invites the public to a student art show on display the month of November in the auditorium of the Brewster Ladies’ Library. The colorful show features work by more than 30 students created during Latham School’s Summer Program.  The exhibiting student artists attend school year-round at Latham’s residential campus specializing in the treatment of complex developmental, emotional and physical special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome. A student reception open to the public free of charge will be hosted by Latham on Friday, November 15th from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Brewster Ladies’ Library Auditorium.

The work represents hands-on art rendered as students gained an entry point into understanding works of the Masters—from the Italian Renaissance into major players of American modernism. Portraits, landscapes, collages, mixed media, and watercolors works are all represented in this experiential group portfolio created with inspiration from luminaries such as Matisse, Andrew Wyeth, Picasso, and others.

The Brewster Ladies' Library is located at 1822 Main Street/Route 6A in Brewster. Hours of operation, including viewing access of the Latham Summer Art Show are: Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Sundays 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.  The library is closed November 11 (Veteran’s Day) and November 28 and 29 (for the Thanksgiving holiday.)

Monday, November 11, 2013


Forgive me please for my insane love for the Red Sox. I have suffered, cheered (and sworn) since the 1970’s for my adopted team. Being a part of Red Sox Nation is like being a member of a club; scorned by many, welcomed by more. I have relatives in Phoenix who profess their love publicly and frequently for the Sox and they have never lived anywhere near Boston. I have a sister in NJ whose dog is named Jeter—she spent last week “incommunicado”. A team that went from worst to first and a city that endured a horrific event demonstrating that fear would not be tolerated became the image of my baseball season.  It is a great finish to a baseball year of incredible highs and lows.

Resilience is the word that comes to me when I think of these events.  The ability of a person to overcome an obstacle; to not allow circumstances to defeat them.  I have the pleasure of working with children and adults who are resilient. They don’t accept their challenges as failure, they figure out how these genetic or emotional “setbacks” can be transformed into successes.  It’s a partnership that requires both parts, program and person, to see the potential for positive outcomes and work towards achieving them.  If there was a world series in life, our students and adults would have their own duck boat parade!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Related Posts:
Latham Friends at Fenway!
Tropical New York
Latham was Represented

“Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection.” 
 ~Red Smith

Friday, November 8, 2013

TIP of the WEEK: Traveling PWS Style

Traveling with typical children can be a challenge but traveling with kids with PWS brings another level of organization and worry. From meal planning to ensuring meds like growth hormone remain cold throughout your trip, traveling PWS style is no easy feat! Here are some ways to make the trip a little easier:
  • Contact your pharmacy or pharmaceutical company to get a cold pack designed specifically for GH injections. These packs keep the med cold for 24 hours. If your flight or travel is expected to be very long you can ask the airlines ahead of time to refrigerate your med pouch during the flight. Most airlines will allow this. If traveling by car bring a cooler designed for long term use.
  • Get all of the info regarding meals ahead of time. If your travels bring you to a PWS conference then this part is relatively easy because any conference with a children's program will have this done for you ahead of time. If not get menus off the internet to be sure they are up to date.
  • Plan snacks, preferably non-perishable ones and have them already portioned out.
  • Allow your child to be a part of the trip planning. Have something they would like to do at the end of each day to make the not so fun stuff more tolerable for them.
  • Use social stories to help prepare for unexpected changes. "Sometimes flights get delayed and we will have to sleep somewhere else/ eat a different meal than we planned for/not see grandma for another day and this is ok, this is not something we can control". A story along those lines can really help your child prepare to be flexible but the stories need to be read ahead of time and not in the moment.
  • Remember to keep your affect and emotions under control. If you are upset, your child will be that much more upset. Stay calm and remind yourself that this is different and everything cannot be perfect or exactly as you planned.
  • If your child is going through a challenging time or if the trip will have few chances for leisure such as a funeral or other family event that will be stressful, find a way to leave your child home. It is ok. The best parenting decisions are those that put your child's needs first and ignore what others may think. Family may not understand your choices but your priority is what is best for your child.
Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Related Posts:
De-cluttering the Atmosphere
The Road Trip
Latham Adults Evacuate the Cape

“Make voyages. Attempt them. There's nothing else.”
 ~Tennessee Williams

Thursday, November 7, 2013


One of the things that keeps me jazzed up about this field is that it is one that provides continuous learning for me.  Every day I learn something new from students, adult clients and staff that adjusts the paradigm of the world as I understand it.  And frankly, most of that learning comes from listening; hearing something different for the first time even though it has been said repeatedly. It creates understanding and is foundational to having a working, trust building relationship with others.  We can get caught up in our lens on the world and how we understand things and expect that others should see things the same way and if they don’t they should come around to seeing it our way.  We bristle when we don’t feel we are heard and that our views and concerns are dismissed without being validated.  This is the same no matter who we are or our role at Latham.

We should all pause to try and listen more and learn from each other.  I am as guilty of this as anyone else.  This is particularly where a power differential exists within a stratified hierarchy such as ours.  Whether between staff and clients or between staff and management or even within management. We all need to pause and listen and come away with true understanding.  Our relationships will be richer and our combined efforts will be both rewarding and more effective.  We will all learn more.

Submitted by:
Jonathan Smith

“There's a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” 
 ~G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Quiet Season

It is so darn dark out when my alarm goes off at 6am that I think the clock is lying to me. Many people say “good morning” when they wake, I just groan loudly. I am stuck between seasons, between closets, between dawn and dark. It has always seemed to me that I am not built for cold and the coming short days and long nights is a harbinger of that very season. Yet, I am drawn to live in New England by the sea.  So, if it isn’t the weather at this time of year that entices a person to stay on this sandbar sticking out into the Atlantic, what exactly is it?

Community. Personal and professional ties to people and place. A sense of belonging and camaraderie that over-ride the urge to burrow under flannel sheets and hibernate until Spring.  Living and working on the Cape is a challenge, but it is also a privilege. Gone are the crowds, long lines, traffic jams. The remaining residents manage to find ways to gather together and celebrate their communities and the shared or diverse heritage of its’ members.  There is always something going on here.

The same holds true for our Latham community. Last weekend, one of our own was featured in a community theater production at one end of the Cape. Her co-workers gathered in numbers to cheer her performance and let her know how talented she is. Our individuals were in residence and in costume at a bowling event while students gathered in the evening around a fire pit in the cool evening of a beautiful Fall day. Being part of Latham means you are part of a caring and active community and while it may not be a beach day, it is after all, a Latham day somewhere. 

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Related Posts:
True Community Success Story
Connections to Community
Every Month, a Community Celebration

“Unless today is well lived, tomorrow is not important.” 
 ~Alan Sakowitz

Friday, November 1, 2013

TIP of the WEEK: Getting Stuck

So many of the more common behavioral challenges we experience with PWS are stemmed from the issue of "getting stuck." Shut downs, perseveration of thoughts, repetitive questions, concrete thinking and an overall stubborn presentation can all be put into this category. Although these behaviors can be extremely frustrating it can be helpful to remember that they are an attempt to manage their environment and not done to intentionally thwart the days plans. Here are some ways to lessen the frequency and severity of the "stuck" behaviors.
  • 1. Check the environment. Is it too bright, loud, chaotic or not stimulating enough? Often times we see shut downs or repetitive thoughts or actions when children or adults with PWS feel out of control and that more often than not comes from an immediate environment that does not meet their needs.
  • 2. Write down as much as possible. Repetitive question asking is on the top 5 of behaviors that I am asked to help with. This behavior can be extremely frustrating and off putting but is the result of not feeling secure with their schedule, especially if there is a new activity planned. Writing down the answers to questions can be very helpful if there is a known change coming up. Some of our kids ask the same questions regardless of a change in the schedule so these answers can be written down and referred to year round. I suggest laminating the paper to avoid it being ripped or crumpled.
  • 3. Stubborn behavior can be misinterpreted as willful and intentional but that is not often the case. A stubborn presentation is likely the result of feeling overwhelmed and needing to create some control. Our kids can typically do more than we give them credit for, offer as many choices as possible to allow them to have that control and begin to learn effective decision making skills.
This category of behaviors can test the patience of the calmest person but try to remember that the more control the person with PWS has on their environment, schedule and day to day life, the less we see these behaviors. The more predictable the schedule, the less anxiety you will see and ultimately you will experience less unwanted behaviors. As always stay calm, keep your sense of humor and remember to reach out for help when you need it.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts: 
Tip of the Week: Rumination
Sensory Integration 
Reasons Behind the Behavior 

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” 
 ~Benjamin Franklin