Friday, February 28, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Loving Someone Rare

Your child is not their IQ score or their new diagnosis from a recent psych eval. She is not how many steps she can take at the age that some other children are when they take their first steps. He is not his tantrums or his scars from picking. Your child is not a problem or something to be fixed.

She will encounter love and joy and friendship and she will also meet those who are mean and unfair and ignorant. He will soon find out that some days are great and other days are really, really bad. And that's okay. Not everyone will like him and others will love him as if he was their own. Teach them to see the good in every day, even on the worst days. Teach him by example. Teach her by being strong for her but not by solving all of her problems for this will only teach her to be dependent and to look to others when she has the ability to do for herself.

You have a child that not everyone will understand and you will fight more battles than you can count but it will be worth every step because in the end you will have a confident and capable child who will most certainly exceed all of your expectations providing that you resist the temptation of putting limits on them in the name of protecting them. Today we celebrate rare disease day and it is a good reminder to embrace the differences and to learn from the unique, quirky and undeniable spark that comes from those who live and love in a way that makes the rest of us seem downright boring!

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:
International Rare Disease Day
Latham Attends National Organization for Rare Disease Gala
Raising Awareness

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Non-profit Conversation

As some readers already know, I'm vacationing in the Southwest, a beautiful but decidedly different part of the country.  I have the good fortune of finding what I call "like-minded" people where-ever I travel. Here's my advice: visit non-profit art collectives, museum shops and craft associations. It never fails to happen that a conversation is easily started....

"Thanks for supporting the artists by your purchase" is a universal deal closer. I generally then remark that I work for a non-profit and that begins a conversation. Often I'm asked for a business card or our website info by the time the next customer is ready to make their purchase. I find that in these places I'm asked more detailed questions about Latham Centers than almost anywhere else; the exception being parents and special needs conferences. Artists and artisans seem to have an extraordinary ability to "get" our work and understand our passion. I like to think they see us as a work of art. As I appreciate their talent, it seems they appreciate ours. So, if you ever find yourself in a position to support them, whether you are shopping locally or while on vacation, please consider doing so.

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”
~Vincent van Gogh

Friday, February 21, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Focusing in the Classroom

Getting and keeping the attention of a child with PWS in class can be a difficult task but there are ways to engage and help to keep them focused.

1. Whisper. My personal favorite. If your child is yelling, crying or having a tantrum- whisper. They will often be so intrigued by what you are saying that they will stop and focus on you.

2. Do something unexpected. Flip the lights, drop a book, start to sing or clap. This will distract them long enough to stop the behavior and get their attention back on you.

3. Have a signal that means it is time to pay attention.
At Latham School we have the kids raise their hands. When everyone's hand is up we know that everyone is ready to listen. The kids typically don't want to be the last one with their hand up so this works very well.

4. Avoid lecture style teaching plans. It is very difficult for kids to pay attention and stay engaged if they are just being asked to sit still and listen. The curriculum should be full of plans that require movement and many different physically active activities.

5. Take breaks. Lots of them. Even if it is a 60 second break to stretch and move around, this will do wonders for their attention.

6. Use bright colors and alerting sounds. If music is used choose music that has more than 60 beats per minute, otherwise you will have very sleepy kids on your hands.

The most effective method for getting and keeping a kids attention is to make the classroom fun and somewhere that they look forward to going to everyday. Use prizes, praise, anything that will get the point across that they are liked and that you also look forward to seeing and teaching them everyday.

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Related Posts:
Strategies for the Classroom
Science Teacher Inspires Students 
Innovations in Special Education 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Cowgirl Way

I am a woman outside of my comfort zone. This is fortunately by choice so I knew (kind of) what I was getting myself into. It gives me pause to think how much we expect of kids to be flexible with changes, expected as well as sudden ones. Everything is just slightly off and I feel out of balance with the world. The good news is that snow is only a four letter word here in sunny, warm Arizona. What I struggle with is the foreignness of the landscape, the fashion, and my abode, affectionately named Casa de Lata--house of tin.

I am spending my vacation at an RV resort. Whoever is in charge here has obviously learned a thing or two about good programming. There are lots of activities, friendly & helpful staff, excellent resources, clubs, beautiful grounds--you get the picture. And as weird as this may sound, it reminds me of Latham. So why then am I out of sorts? Role-reversal. Here, I am not part of the staff, I am in fact, the kid. This is a very interesting and revealing view for me to consider and I will definitely remember this when I get back to the office. Now, if only I could convince everyone that cowboy hats are optional.....

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Friday, February 14, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: The Art and Science of a Good Nights Sleep

Everyone needs a good nights sleep. So often we hear from parents of children with PWS that their child struggles with sleep issues. Whether they struggle to fall asleep, wake easily, too often throughout the night or too early in the morning, at some point most kids with PWS will have sleep issues. First, a sleep study must be a priority if you are concerned about sleep difficulties. Sleep apnea is a serious condition and should be addressed sooner rather than later. If sleep apnea is ruled out then the next step is to look at the environment both, physical and emotional.

Your body causes stress hormones when you are feeling anxious or are feeling as though you need to be on alert for whatever reason. These stress hormones naturally keep you awake. Find something that soothes your child; an item like a teddy bear or blanket, quiet music, a favorite story- really anything that will take away those feelings of anxiety and turn off the brain's automatic reaction to stress.

Everyone is different. Some will be calmed by certain smells, others agitated by the exact same scent. Sensory issues play a very important part in the bodies ability to calm itself enough to allow for a restful sleep.

 "Is it too cold?"
 "Is it too loud?"
"Are their pajamas the wrong material?"
"Are they feeling rested enough to let their bodies settle?"

Lack of physical exercise or too much exercise right before bed can adversely effect sleep cycles. Some kids need total darkness, others need night lights or hall lights on. These preferences can change over time. The key is to find what works for your child and stick to it. If you notice that your child's behavior has recently changed for the worse, take a look at their sleep patterns. Like everyone else, a bad nights sleep can have a direct effect on mood and behavior. Establishing a quiet and soothing night time routine can do wonders for everyone's sanity!

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:
Getting a Good Nights Sleep
Sensory Overload
Nights at Latham

"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow."
 ~Charlotte Brontë

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cape Cod Charity Lunch Bunch Gives to Latham Centers

Cape Cod Charity Lunch Bunch
Cape Cod Charity Lunch Bunch, a social group of jolly Cape women, gathers monthly for a luncheon at the home of one of 12 participants. Enjoying a midday meal, the hostess of the group picks a new and relevant charity for which to donate $300. The children, adult residents and staff of Latham Centers thank Joanne Patrie of South Dennis for choosing us as her charity for the month of February. The group is pictured left at a festively decorated Valentine table.

Since 2011, the Cape Cod Charity Lunch Bunch has recognized more than 30 charities, many on Cape Cod. Donating $25 each (the cost of lunch out with a glass of wine), the group collects $300 per month for the charity of the hostess’ choice. To date, they have donated some $10,000 – something that we at Latham Centers recognize and are truly impressed with.

Initially, Louise Curran (creator of the group), and her friends would gather socially at restaurants after painting class, recapping the day and enjoying each other’s company. After reading an article about a group of friends that mirrored her own, she noticed one vital difference. The women in the article learned about and donated to a charity each time they met. Louise was inspired, and quickly her group of friends decided to meet at one another’s homes, often inviting representatives from the selected charity to present and mingle.

Latham Centers is inspired by ‘the ladies,’ and we thank them for their generosity on behalf of the children and adults we serve with complex special needs.  Latham and the other deserving nonprofit beneficiaries are lucky to lunch with them—in good company, and for very good causes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Latham Consulting

I sometimes have to write distressing (to me anyway) emails to families who are reaching out to Latham Centers for services for their child; school-age or adult. I wish we could provide services to everyone who seeks us out. Sometimes it is because we don’t have an opening. Often it is because the person lives out of state and, to borrow a movie title…It’s Complicated.

I wish it was easier. I wish we could say yes frequently. The fact of the matter is this can be a major challenge for families. Everyone who needs Latham can’t come here. We are not centrally located and we aren’t a huge program. In fact, one of the things that makes us unique is our size. So, the question we struggled with is how can we, knowing that demand is far greater than we can provide on Cape Cod, expand services to meet the growing requests coming in? Latham Consulting. You might not be able to come to us, but we will do our best to come to you, your child’s school, residential provider or day program. Where ever the issue is, we can assess the situation, make recommendations and teach those unfamiliar (or inflexible) with PWS some of our strategies and best practices. Allow us to use our expertise to help you. If you think this might be an appealing idea or  you are wondering about the costs, please feel me to contact me at:

Hang in there. We are able to help.

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

"Go the extra mile.  It's never crowded." 
~Author Unknown

Monday, February 10, 2014


Hate the month? I get that. The cold, the snow, the dark.  But there can be a positive vibe to this chilly time of year:

  • We honor Black History all month.
  • We have the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics to cheer about.
  • We hope the ground hog will give us good news.
  • We exchange Valentine messages (We may even factor in a calorie exchange).
  • We celebrate President’s Day.
  • We have the Oscars to watch.
  • We only have 28 days instead of 30 or 31 in the month.
  • It is staying light out longer each day.
  • We have time to visit the library and cozy up with some fine winter reading.
  • Someone you know or love must have a birthday in February.
  • Spring training starts.
  • I heard someone whisper “vacation week”—now, that must have been a child.

Before you know it, it will be March and we can march ourselves right into Spring. I knew we could find something to look forward to!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."
~Anne Bradstreet

Friday, February 7, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Getting Through a Hospital Trip

Whether you are there for a test, an emergency or for a longer stay, a trip to the hospital can be a stressful event for everyone involved. For kids who may be intentionally trying to get to the hospital to get more food or food that's different from their typical menu, it is important to make arrangements to bring in your own food. Bringing food from home for each meal and snack will eliminate the secondary gain of food acquisition during a hospital stay. If your child requires a test that calls for meals to be skipped, assure them that they will get their lost calories once the test is over. This will help to alleviate stress associated with missed meals. Insist that your medical staff become familiar with the medical alert materials from PWSAUSA, even if it means that you need to read the most pertinent information to them to be sure that they have heard the most critical parts.

Children typically react negatively to a trip to the hospital because they fear that they will miss something that they would normally get if they were home. Assuring your child that once back at home they will return to their typical routine will help to get them through the temporary change.

Hospital visits can be stressful but remembering to keep their routine as close to normal as possible, keeping your stress and fear hidden from them and always reaching out for support if you feel that your medical staff is not fully educated on PWS will help make the visit go a little smoother.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:

Preparing for the Hospital
Going to the Doctor
We Do Not Walk Alone

"Determination in spite of the challenge makes us stronger.”
 ~Ellen J. Barrier

Thursday, February 6, 2014


There is great sadness in the world-wide PWS family today. A person I have never met, a parent in another country has lost her baby with PWS to illness. The details are not important. That I never met the woman is not important. The hole I feel in my heart for her, her husband and family can’t be compared to their pain. There are few words I can think of to express how horribly sad this is.

Facebook, twitter, etc. can be a royal pain sometimes but here is the strength I see of social media: within moments of the news, heartfelt condolences, words of comfort; caring and meaningful messages of love and kindness began to fill my screen for this mom & family. I don’t know if she will ever read them but I did. This close knit community of far flung families will surely surround them with the combined strength they possess. Is it enough? How could it be? But it is what we can do. Please keep this family in your thoughts and hearts tonight.

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

“There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.”
~Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I worry a lot. I wish I didn’t feel so much like Charlie Brown. Right now I’m plagued with concern for the Olympics and I’m not even going, much less competing. I think I spend too much time watching the news or listening to reports of what is going on where in this crazy world. I don’t advocate putting your head in the sand and pretending it isn’t happening; but how do all of us balance the good and hopeful with the scary and bad?

For there are things worth cheering about happening all around us. In the midst of my concern for the Olympians, I am reminded of the art show of our student and adult individuals work that will be opening in a community library here on the Cape. See it HERE. Their talent is awe inspiring and fills me with such pleasure that it pushes the worry away.  I have decided to allow the good stuff to have center-stage in my brain for a while. It seems to help reminding myself that some things I have control over, some things I don’t.

I think parents are high up on the worry scale. That responsibility we hold to care for and cherish our child, regardless of their age, never fades. Whether you parent an astronaut, the Superbowl MVP or your child with complex special needs, you keep their well-being high up on your priority list.  I called my 33 year old son yesterday to remind him to drive his family home safely on the snowy roads. As if he would do anything else with his precious cargo in his car. But I think he actually understood what I meant now that he is a father. What would have annoyed him 5 years ago probably made perfect sense to him now.

We could literally do this worry stuff 24 hours a day with everything going on but we all know that isn’t healthy; for us or for our children. I ask only that you find your balance between what you worry about and what you celebrate.  And don’t aim for 50-50! That’s way too much worry, even for this worry-wort!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” 
~Corrie Ten Boom

Monday, February 3, 2014

AmazonSmile: A New Way to Donate!

AmazonSmile: A new way to donate
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Latham Centers every time you shop at no cost to you. When you shop at, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Latham Centers!  Zero point five percent of the purchase price may seem minimal, but it multiplies quickly. We thank you in advance for choosing Latham as your 501(c)(3).

How do I select a charitable organization to support when shopping on AmazonSmile? On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization to receive donations from purchases. By typing in “Latham Centers” the first option should be Latham Centers, Inc. (Orleans MA). AmazonSmile will remember your selection, and every purchase you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation, unless otherwise noted. Donations are deposited monthly directly to Latham from Amazon.

From time to time, Amazon may offer special, limited time promotions that increase the donation amount on one or more products or services or provide for additional donations.