Friday, September 26, 2014
Have you checked out the Latham Centers Bidding For Good Auction Recently? Five additional items were added today with more to come next week. Take a look at and bid on the popular Cape Cod Outline necklace, Ocean Edge Golf Package, or the Charming Chatham Overnight Package to name a few – the bids are already rolling in. All proceeds benefit Latham Centers programs for children and adults with complex special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome.
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. Monitor your child’s interactions with peers and give feedback when you see areas for improvement.
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.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
I never thought Derek Jeter and I would have something in common but apparently we both decided to retire at the exact same time. This has been a roller coaster kind of week for me. I’m fine until someone asks me about leaving. I can feel the tears welling up and I want to let you all know I am really, really excited about this but at the same time, I am really, really overwhelmed about leaving. I have had the good fortune to work with some truly wonderful mentors here. They were patient with my “know it all” New Jersey attitude and gave me the resources and support needed to become better at my job.
If you told me back in 1982 that I would still be at Latham in 2014 I would have laughed at the idea. Yet, here I am and it has been a remarkable ride. I am thankful for all of the students, individuals and staff that have made my time at Latham so memorable. I treasure all of the drawings and cards you have bestowed upon me and I will remember my nights matching socks as fondly as I do my days on the road marketing this awesome program. I have loved every position I have ever held here and wish you all the best as Latham continues to grow and offer programs of excellence to children and adults. This has been my home away from home and I will truly miss you all.
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
A touching short film for parents of children born with Prader Willi Syndrome who were told their children would never function with normalcy. These parents prove not only the doctors wrong, but anyone else that said their children would never. Inspiring first hand testimonials from families that have gone through it all and have come out with incredible stories of hope and meaning.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Our kids often have a difficult time taking an effective deep breath. Try these tricks and let us know if you see an improvement:
- Blow the biggest bubble contest. Encourage exhaling for as long as is comfortable and a deep inhale will follow.
- Take a ping pong ball and draw a "goal" at the end of a table. See how many breathes it takes to blow the ball over the goal line. Try to improve their score everyday.
- Have them blow a feather in the air and using only their breath, see how long they can keep it from touching the ground.
- Set a timer and slowly extend the time each day until you get to 3 minutes.
It is important for kids and adults to practice deep breathing everyday but it is equally as important for their caregivers to reduce stress and increase energy.
Friday, September 12, 2014
I have received a number of questions over the past few weeks about executive function disorder so I have decided to re run a past blog with some additions.
We see common traits and behaviors in many of our kids with PWS and many of these are caused by an executive function 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?
- Routine. 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. This technique 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. Using social stories before each new experience can drastically reduce your child’s anxiety.
- 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. Less is always better.
- Visual schedules for each part of the day. These can be vague in case specific activities need to be changed. Involving your child in creating these schedules will add to the likelihood of them being followed.
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.
Manager of PWS Services
Monday, September 8, 2014
Latham Profiles: Meaghan Hengst
Children's Residential Counselor
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The things I enjoy most about my job is that I am able to go to work knowing that I will be amazed every day and that I’m making a difference in the lives of the residents here at Latham Centers. I also have an amazing group of coworkers who offer great support to help keep the students and Latham at its best.
Describe a few of your responsibilities and how you spend much of your time.
Some of the responsibilities that I have here at Latham are that I help to teach the students proper hygiene, eating etiquette, and social skills that they can use and apply when they leave Latham. I plan activities that bring the students into the community. I also help the students to identify something that is a challenge for them and figure out ways to handle this challenge appropriately.
What skills are most important for professionals who work with individuals with PWS?
The skills that are most important for professionals who work with individuals with PWS are the qualities that one needs to possess even before starting to work with children with special needs which are patience, compassion and adaptability. Another huge skill to have is to be able to let go of power struggles.
What are the most important lessons you attempt to teach new staff?
The students each have their own history and therefore come to Latham for various reasons. Get to know each student by what the student says and also by their individual behavior plan. These students come here for consistency and support so it is our job as a whole Latham community to provide that consistency.
What do you love about working with individuals with PWS?
I admire their courage in dealing with this syndrome. To have the constant effects of this illness and yet be able to laugh, smile, form friendships, and have fun is amazing.
Has this job taught you anything about yourself?
This job has taught me that I have far more patience than I ever believed I had!
How do you spend your time when you’re not working at Latham?
I enjoy going to the beach, reading, listening to live music, and spending time with friends and family.
What advice would you give to someone contemplating a career at Latham Centers?
The advice I would give someone who is considering a career at Latham is to be energetic, have an open mind, and be ready for many challenges that are, in the end, extremely rewarding. Also, one can review the website because it offers a great deal of information that will help you decide if Latham is the right fit for them.
Interested in joining our team? See our latest job postings HERE!
Friday, September 5, 2014
- It is not unusual to not see any visible signs of grief right away. Following a loss, the person with PWS may appear as though he or she is unaffected at first. I have seen people take several years before completely understanding that a loss occurred and that it is permanent. Alternatively, I have seen people begin the grieving process immediately following a loss but display feelings through behaviors rather than verbally expressing how he or she was feeling.
- Don't try to protect the individual from the truth. Be honest if someone has died and avoid trying to spare feelings by leaving him or her out of the rituals that follow a death. Rituals are an integral part of processing loss and the person with PWS should be allowed this opportunity.
- Make something tangible. A pillow or stuffed animal from the persons clothing, a memory book or box, a collage of favorite photos--anything one can hold and go to when missing the deceased. Grieving may happen when the PWS person is alone so allow he or she to have something to hold and look at without feeling obligated to talk about how he or she is feeling. Verbally processing the loss may be overwhelming, if not impossible.
- Keep routines the same. As much as possible allow for routines to be unchanged. This will promote feelings of safety and security during a difficult time.
- Loss comes in many forms. A person does not need to die to be gone from your child's life. If a person who was important to your child will no longer be in his or her life, it is important to honor this void and the uncertainty that can follow.
The most important thing to remember is that regardless of your child's behavior or their appeared indifference, grief is being experienced and should be honored and supported.
Manager of PWS Services
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
1. Our unique population of students.
2. Creativity and freedom in lesson planning.
3. Opportunity to learn about many different intellectual, developmental, and behavioral disabilities.
4. Amazing co-workers!!!
5. Extremely supportive administrative team
6. Work closely with students' clinicians
7. Always something new to learn or discover about the students
8. Your thoughts/ideas/concerns are heard and taken seriously
9. Never a dull moment
10. There is no other organization like it!!!
Teacher at Latham Centers
Interested in a career at Latham Centers? Click HERE to view our current job postings.