Monday, March 31, 2014

B I N G O !

On Thursday the 20th of March, the Peter Cooper residence hosted its monthly Bingo for Prizes event! We started this a few months ago as a house event and interest has grown. We now invite other houses to join us in the fun! 

This month we invited the the individuals from the Hazlemoore residence to join us.  Our bingo caller was Matt O from the Hazlemoore house. Matt came dressed to the nines!! He had on a suit and tie and even brought his bingo whistle to blow when a bingo was called.  The group enjoyed a cookout for dinner and then got right down to the business of playing bingo. They had many prizes to choose from. There was a selection of perfumes to puzzle books and everything in between! Both houses really seemed to enjoy coming together and socializing! We look forward to having other houses over to enjoy the fun.

Submitted by:
Patricia Morgan
House Manager

Friday, March 28, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Good Dental Hygiene

Starting and maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential for your child's health. Rumination, thick and sticky saliva and sensory issues all lead to the possibility of poor dental hygiene. Cavities, gingivitis, and other gum disease have a direct negative effect on overall health especially in older individuals. Teaching and maintaining good oral habits at a young age will have lasting and positive results and will directly impact your child's good health. Here are some tips for fostering good dental habits:

  • 1. If your child appears fearful or especially resistant to tooth brushing consider getting an evaluation from an OT to address sensory needs. The sound of running water, the temperature of the water, the feeling of bristles in their mouth all may be sensory overload and can be successfully addressed.
  • 2. Establish and stick to a routine. For several years you may need to brush your child's teeth until you feel that they have the stamina and coordination to do so for themselves. Even after the busiest of days or the most hectic mornings, don't skip this routine. Skipping because it is easier just sends the message that this particular task isn't that important. This is the opposite of what you are trying to teach.
  • 3. If your child ruminates try sugar free gum after meals or sour candy spray. Both can sometimes discourage rumination because it is more rewarding to have the taste of gum or candy in their mouths.
  • 4. Let your child make their own toothpaste. There are loads of simple recipes online and your son or daughter may be more likely to use it if they make it themselves.

Whatever the issue, good dental hygiene is crucial to overall good health and habits need to start early. We would love to hear your suggestions for making this sometimes grueling daily chore happen!

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:
Dental Issues with PWS
Sensory Integration

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Horticulture Program news!

The winter is finally over and it is time to step-up our Horticulture Program! Students are preparing both flowers and plants in our Greenhouse located right here on-campus. As you can see by the photos, the process takes attention to detail, a love of gardening, and the ability to work as a team. Plants and flowers that are being tended to will be planted throughout Latham’s beautiful campus as the weather warms. Spring is finally in the air!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chris Gets Pampered at the Guerlain Pampering Party in Natick!

It is definitely time to learn new things. I attended the Latham Centers Event (read about it HERE) on Saturday, March 22nd at the Neiman-Marcus store in Natick and decided it was time for a “new” face. Now, I am a pretty realistic person and I know my “old” face wasn’t going to magically look like Angelina Jolie -- but I have been doing and using the same products since Jimmie Carter was President so I thought what the heck, let’s give it a try.

Well, I looked pretty darn good with new products and the help of a lovely, patient woman who showed me how to apply my new make-up. I didn’t even mind the photo op now that I looked so glamorous. It was a really fun time, with a lot of support and help from a great group of professionals who pampered us with French music, hor d’oeuvres and wine! Imagine, shopping with a glass of wine. Now that is dangerous!

Fast forward to my home the next day. Same face, same new products but omg, without the help of the skilled pro, I don’t resemble the confident woman I was yesterday. Practice, I need practice (lots and lots of it). Much like any new skill, it takes time to learn and master it. I find myself in the same boat as our students and adults. I am in need of a nurturing, safe environment where I can practice my skills without fear of failure or ridicule. That’s one of the things I so love about Latham. It’s a place that says “I know learning new things is hard, but I will help you and support you as you learn this skill and I will be patient and partner with you until you master it.” That’s what I need right now.

So, with my new make-up in my purse, I leave my house and arrive at my office. If there’s time, I’ll try my hand at the application of it in the safety of my office. I know that everyone here will be kind and encourage me to keep trying. Wish me luck and please let me know if one eyebrow is heading in the wrong direction….

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

In the News!

We at Latham Centers are proud to be part of such a vibrant and caring community. Check out this article HERE to see what's in store for Brewster next month!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fête Guerlain; Pampering Party at Neiman Marcus Natick a Success!

On behalf of the children and adults at Latham Centers, we'd like to thank all new and old friends for coming out in support of Our Mission to Neiman Marcus Natick. Special thanks to event donors and Guerlain Raffle participants, and to Neiman Marcus and Guerlain Cosmetics staff Don Fleming, Véronique Meynard-Dixey, April Riccio, and Claudio Carreira. You were all tremendously helpful in planning the March 22, 2014 Guerlain Beauty Party to benefit Latham Centers' life-saving programs for our children and adults with complex special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Above: The French-themed party was an experience to remember highlighting the Guerlain Beauty products, gifts bags, French food and drink, and a Parisian chanteuse.

Congratulations to the five winners of the luxurious raffle prizes generously donated by Guerlain Cosmetics:
Ms. Kelly Venditti of Natick, MA won the grand prize of $1500 in Guerlain Cosmetics and All-Natural Goat's Milk Soap made by the Latham School children.

Friday, March 21, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Making Friends

The number one issue that we hear about from families is their child's lack of friends and meaningful relationships outside of family. This is a great challenge for our kids, especially for those who are often placed in special needs classrooms with children who lack social skills or who shy away from social interaction. Some kids can go for long stretches at a time only interacting with family members or with classmates who cannot reciprocate socially. Here are some ideas that can help:

1. Have social skill building time written into your child's IEP. This can mean time out of their classroom as an integrated member of a mainstream classroom or activity at least one time per day. Use your child's strengths and have them join a classroom of typical children for a portion of each day. Having role models for appropriate behavior and wanting to fit in are the best ways of encouraging productive social skills.

2. You need to be a friend to have a friend. This age old saying is still very much true. Due to the tendency to be self interested it can be difficult to teach the important lessons like generosity, patience and tolerance but with consistency these skills can be learned.

3. Let them get hurt a little. Avoid over protecting their feelings to the point where other kids are afraid to be around them for fear of being constantly corrected. Kids might unintentionally (or intentionally) say something hurtful but let your child be the one to express his or her feelings to their peers.

4. Let your kids pick their friends. You won't like all of their choices but isn't that true for every child? Taking risks, learning through experience and being let down are what teaches us life's most important lessons. A child who is always kept safe and whose choices are made for him or her is a child that will not grow.

5. Ask for help at first. Your child may not be included initially so ask the other moms to have their kids spend time with your son or daughter. It won't be long until they see that despite your child's disability, they are actually pretty fun to hang out with.

The bottom line is that we often separate our kids with very good reason but in order to make and keep friends we need to let go just a little tiny bit. The rewards will be endless.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:
Looking for the Right Program
Connections to the Community
The Value of Specialized Placement

"Friendship is a sheltering tree." 
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Only Three More Days to Purchase Raffle Tickets and RSVP for the Guerlain Beauty Products Fundraiser!

Act now to help support our programs at Latham Centers!

At Latham Centers we are always trying to expand our horizons to further enrich the life-saving programs for children and adult resident. Just as the students at Latham Centers thrive at a weekly “Spa Night,” we all deserve a spa night on occasion! Neiman Marcus NATICK and Guerlain have teamed together with Latham Centers to offer just that.

Please join us for the Guerlain Beauty Party on Saturday March 22, from 2-5pm at Neiman Marcus NATICK, located at the illustrious Natick Mall. The Guerlain Beauty Party offers Guerlain beauty and skincare consultation, shoe shine, men’s grooming session, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, music, and a raffle drawing. A percentage of sales from Guerlain products, and 100% of related raffle tickets sales will benefit life-saving programs at Latham Centers.

Raffle prizes consisting of Guerlain Beauty Products and Latham Centers Hand-Made Soaps value over $2,000 in total, with the grand prize valuing $1,500 alone! Tickets are 1 for $20 and 3 for $50. Full details by clicking HERE, including your invitation and a link to purchase. Need not be present March 22 to win.

Kalyn Mika, Supervisor on the Latham School Campus, explains how Spa Night’s skill building is critical to the students and instills in us the notion that everything is a learning opportunity for individuals with complex special needs; “Students must practice patience while they wait for staff help with nail painting, generosity in sharing products with each other, and encourages independence and mastery when some of the older students take the skills they learn at Spa Night back to the suite to try for the next day on their own.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tagging Along

Right now I am accompanying my husband to a retail trade show in his field and it affords me an opportunity to check out a few ideas I have about my world versus his. I have always said I couldn't work retail. My passion continues to be the kids and adults we support at Latham Centers. I like my non-profit world and consider our work important, our employees the key to our success. So, while wandering the convention center filled with booth after booth of sparkling gems, I decided to see if there is anything I could learn from this event that could be applied to my field.

Not surprisingly, there was one major take-away that jumped right out at me. It didn't matter what the objects on display were, and trust me, there were some truly phenomenal pieces, it was the engagement of the person in the booth. I looked for those representatives who were excited by their product--those who were chatting, laughing or greeting people, friends or strangers alike. That I believe, is the key.  Whether you represent a jewelry line or a program such as ours, you need to be committed to it and love it with your heart and soul. When you do, that vibe can be felt by those nearby.  That's what makes it compelling to stop and check your product out. Latham has that vibe. The staff and our students and adults are our best reps too. Seeing their joy, perseverance, courage, compassion and talent makes it my gem of a workplace and thank goodness, because I really can't handle retail....

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

"Follow what you are genuinely passionate about and let that guide you to your destination"
~Diane Sawyer

Monday, March 17, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Making Doctors Visits Manageable

Going to the doctors does not have to be a stressful event if a few things are taken into consideration beforehand:

  • 1. If fasting labs are the beginning of your day, or heaven forbid your afternoon, reassure your child that they will get all of their daily calories, just at a different time. This will make the skipped meal a little easier if they know that they will still get their calories, just later than usual.
  • 2. Doctors talk fast and sometimes assume that we know more than we do. Never be afraid to ask for clarification. When possible bring someone else along with you and when that is not possible be sure to bring a pen and paper along. You will not remember everything that was said no matter how hard you try.
  • 3. If this is a new doctor ask for a double appointment. You will need this time to go over the printed PWS medical information from PWSAUSA. If you just hand it to them, they will likely not read it thoroughly.
  • 4. If you are scheduling an appointment for a non emergency, try for early Monday mornings as they tend to be the least busiest time for doctors offices with less wait time and the ability for a longer, less rushed appointment.
  • 5. Plan something fun for after the appointment if your child doesn't like going to the doctor. Having something to look forward to is the best way to get through something unpleasant.
  • 6. If your child is fearful or adamantly opposes going to see their doctor, consider switching. Pediatricians should be able to provide a calm and safe atmosphere and if this isn't happening then it might be time to see someone else.
  • 7. Call ahead and ask that all treats like candy bowls or lollipops be removed while you are there. To be safe do this before every appointment.
  • 8. Finally, as your child ages let them participate in medical decisions and discussions and they will be better advocates for themselves in adulthood.

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Related Posts:
Going to the Doctor
Getting Through a Hospital Trip
The Hard Questions

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spa Night at Latham!

Spa Night at the Latham School is one the events students look forward to most! Carlos Negron, creator of Spa Night explains, “The students figure out how to comb their hair, style it, paint finger and toe nails, soak their feet in a foot bath and more. We instill as much independence as we can, and teach motor skills…painting a small finger nail is no easy task!”

Our Guerlain Beauty Party March 22nd at Neiman Marcus Natick is a way for you and your friends to experience similar pampering to what our students engage in weekly! Can’t attend? Purchase tickets (1-$20, 3-$50) for the Guerlain Beauty Raffle offering a $1500 grand prize gift basket of Guerlain Beauty Products. All proceeds benefit Latham School Children’s programming.

Friday, March 7, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Teaching Vocational Skills

The framework for building vocational skills starts at a very early age. The less you do for your child early on the more independent and adaptable they will be later in life when it is time to begin working. Children who are accustomed to pushing their limits, problem solving and taking accountability will be far more successful in the workforce than those who are used to having things done for them or being allowed to blame others for their actions. Many skills needed to be a great employee can be taught early on:
  • 1. Teach responsibility. Be sure that your child has chores that others rely on to be done. Simple chores can start as early as three or four years old. Increase complexity as the child grows.
  • 2. Never blame other people if your child displays negative behavior, at least not in front of your child. Children with PWS have so much to contend with and sometimes the anxiety and over stimulation is simply too much and a melt down or other behavior is inevitable. Mistakes will be made by other people involved in your child's life. This is unavoidable. Regardless of the situation always convey the message to your child that acting in an inappropriate way is never okay and their actions are always their choice. Allowing your child to blame their actions on another persons mistake is a set up for extremely difficult teenage and adult years. Even if you know that the situation could have been avoided the message to your child needs to be clear and consistent.
  • 3. Do not avoid using the word no. Many families report to us upon intake that their child reacts strongly to the word no so they avoid using it at all costs. This is fine for a residential setting. We are used to skirting this word but it is unrealistic in the community, especially at a work setting. Employers are not going to be sensitive to this and employment will be short lived if a behavior occurs every time your child is asked not to do something.
  • 4. Many kids with PWS do not have strong math skills and for the most part this will not get in their way. However, money skills are an important skill to have. Teaching the value of money will serve them well even if they will not be able to handle money independently.
It is so tempting to keep our kids in a bubble because we want them to be safe and protected and let's face it, we want to keep our sanity but pushing them, challenging their limits and taking risks will serve them for a lifetime.

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Related Posts:
Creating a Behavior Plan
Top Ten Strategies for Emotional Meltdowns in Public
Community Success Story

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spring Cleaning

March is here, finally. You can begin to see light at the end of the snow tunnel. I know snow can still be in the forecast but you have to admit that you are hopeful that Spring is indeed just around the corner. One of the activities that I always involved my kids in had to do with donating clothing to groups that impacted their community. There are multiple objectives here:
  • Most importantly it is the concept that regardless of your age, you can help someone.
  • You also have to make decisions-- do we donate, keep or toss? The donate pile needed to be at least the second highest in height.
  • All donations needed to be in good wearable shape, so next came learning/practicing the skills of sorting, washing & folding. Don't just jam things in a bag.
  • Allow your children to help deliver the donations and see that there are real people they are giving these things to, not just a big dumpster in a parking lot.

Doing this simple bit of "Spring Cleaning" offers more than just tidy closets for children. It offers them real opportunities to demonstrate generosity year round.

Submitted by
Chris Gallant

“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world.”