Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween at Latham Centers!

TIP of the WEEK: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

You will ask yourself this question dozens of times between now and the end of December. The holiday season brings parties, gatherings, and special events that stray from your normal routine. In other words, they bring anxiety. Some family members will insist that you come to their parties, while others will ask you not to attend with your child. Both scenarios are equally as stressful and will leave you feeling guilty regardless of your decision; but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are some things that you can do to make the holiday season what it should be, festive and full of wonder:

1. Be realistic. You know your child better than anyone. If you know that your child cannot handle a large party, then do not set them up to fail. Plan a smaller get together where your child can be included or arrange for your child to attend the larger party for a short amount of time.

2. Use social stories to prepare your child for what to expect. More exposure to change does teach flexibility in the long run. Just be sure you have the necessary supports to manage your child if he or she becomes overwhelmed during the event.

3. Give yourself permission to stay home. If you know that attending a party will be too much, then don't go. If your family is discouraging you from bringing your child, opt to plan a smaller event where they can see for themselves how amazing your son or daughter is without the anxiety that a large event can bring.

4. Most importantly, plan time to enjoy yourself and your family during the holidays. If that means keeping it low key, then do so. Whatever you plan, just remember that the holidays are a time to be with family and friends in whatever way feels most comfortable for you and yours.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Latham Works News

Evie did an awesome job working the cash register in the school store accurately and INDEPENDENTLY. Fred had to get something from the office so there was no one standing next to her to guide her.  I was watching from the door as she rang several items in accurately, clicked the subtotal button, rang in the amount of cash received, and came up with the correct change based on the register’s readout, with 100% independence and accuracy. Great Circle of Courage action from Evie!  Mastery and independence for sure, with a bit of belonging to boot (she was polite with her customer too). Great job!

Andy Needel
Vocational Teacher

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another Successful Year to Benefit Latham Programs & Facilities

Fellow Latham Staffer and Accounts Payable Specialist Anne Haglof
(second from left) with her Golf Foursome
On Monday, October 20th, 2014 Latham Centers held its 5th Annual Charity Golf Classic on a beautiful and brisk autumn day at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club. Thank you to all of our community-minded sponsors, golfers, donors, volunteers, and staff who supported Latham Centers and contributed to another successful annual fundraising event. The day Golf Classic attracted a sold out roster of 132 golfers; additional guests arrived for the evening dinner banquet to bid on some 45 diverse live and silent auction items.

Red River Oil Painting by Carroll Sivco sold in the Live Auction.
This year there were a few highlights in the event that were “close to home!”  Latham Centers’ Children’s Program Nurse, Carroll Sivco donated one of her beautiful oil paintings entitled “Red River” (seen above) selling at the live auction.  Several staff, family members, and Latham vendors played and/or volunteered and donated to the Classic along with two adult residents playing on the Nicklaus© Design 18-hole, private course!  Latham School students created charming seasonal centerpieces for the dinner banquet with the help of teacher Suzanna Requa-Trautz (below).

Partial proceeds from this year’s Golf Classic support the Latham Community Center Capital Campaign, and help to more fully enrich the life-changing and -enhancing programs offered at Latham Centers. 

A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL in making the event such a success!

Gratefully Submitted by
Katrina Fryklund & Gerry Desautels
Latham Development Office

Monday, October 27, 2014

Latham Centers Announces New Director of Children's Services

Latham Centers is pleased to announce that Gerry Pouliot, III has been appointed the new Director of Children's Services, working from the Latham School Children's campus in Brewster, MA. As a native Cape Codder, Mr. Pouliot began his career as a special education teacher in the public system before choosing to join Latham in 2010 as the lead teacher in our Nauset classroom. Mr. Pouliot has been Latham School's Director of Education since 2012. Under his leadership, the school and its education program have experienced a number of improvements. During his tenure, Mr. Pouliot has demonstrated skill in creating community, recognizing and developing talents in others and fostering collaboration.

Having worked up "through the ranks," we are especially excited to have a leader that intimately knows the program. In recognition of this, we have asked Gerry to explain why he believes Latham is the best place to work. Here are his Top Ten Reasons:
  • Love working in an environment that promotes creativity and outside-the-box thinking!
  • Staff, staff, staff... I may be biased but Latham staff members are the most dedicated group of professionals that I have ever worked with.
  • The curriculum allows educators to educate our students with a hands-on approach that meets the core curriculum.
  • The moment when a student smiles because they achieved an important milestone such as passing the MCAS, scoring a touchdown at Special Olympics, or participating in a residential social skills group.
  • Watching the campus-wide after school activities (I just recently learned the game of SPUD!)
  • Observing our students working so hard in Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy. I do not think everyone truly knows the dedication and commitment our students have to excel with these specialized therapies.
  • The Community Meeting! Once a month all components get together with the students to celebrate student and staff accomplishments over the course of the month. Watch out, I personally give out the "Hey, that's really cool award."
  • Sensory Art, Lights, Camera, Action!, Woodworking, Maintenance staff, and classes they offer our students, Seasonal Crafts, Student Council, Gardening, Book Club, Science, and Swim Outings, the Nauset Garden Club Ladies, Visiting Companion Animal Dogs, and the PWS Club, and 21-Club―just a few clubs/activities that Latham has to offer.
  • The parents. As the Director of Education I was responsible for communicating the Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) with parents/guardians and funding school districts. I have learned so much about our population through the parents of our individuals. I have learned that compassion, patience and focused guidance are key attributes that one must have when working with our unique population.
  • Finally, our students. It is their courage that inspires me and the staff on a daily basis. It is the everyday occurrences that serve as minor miracles that we may take for granted; but once we can take a step back and breathe, we collectively realize that we wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Friday, October 24, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Help in Realizing Meaningful Relationships

We often hear people with PWS described as being the “mayor” of his or her community because the ability to make acquaintances comes quite naturally. Parents of PWS children often describe their kids as someone that everyone in the town knows and likes; but the challenge comes when it is time to move from acquaintances to being and having a true friend. The ability to have meaningful relationships is essential for anyone to have an abundant, quality life, including those with PWS.

There are a number of things that you can do (and not do) to help your child along in obtaining meaningful and fulfilling relationships:

1. Play fair. It is tempting to let your child win at games because he or she has so many challenges. Why not let them have some success when you have control over it? While it is true that success breeds confidence, always winning also makes for a child with unrealistic expectations.

2. Hold your child accountable. Poor behavior is poor behavior, regardless of the diagnosis. After a behavioral incident, give your child some time to calm down and regroup and then go over the incident. If you allow your child to say or believe that any acts of violence, tantrums, or verbal outbursts are because of PWS, you are doing a disservice to your child. Children will often meet the expectations put on them and a child with a developmental disability is no different in that regard. There will likely be slips along the road, but continue to make your expectations clear.

3. Practice saying nice things about people. Get your child in the habit of complimenting others, especially peers.

4. Focus on the positive. Finding one good thing about someone you don’t like teaches children that people are not all bad. There may be something about a person that they don’t like but asking them to talk about something good about a person that they don’t get along with is an important life lesson.

5. Mistakes are okay and human. Never give up.

6. Allow for risk taking. We grow and learn as a result of our successes and our failures. 

7. Keep trying.

8. Have fun!

9. Avoid blaming other people in front of your child. You may have legitimate issues with 
teachers, other parents or providers but being critical of them in front of your child teaches them that it is okay to be disrespectful. 

10. Embrace every success and learn from every failure.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Latham Works News

Today Liam broke in the new power sander during woodworking club.  After a brief training session, Liam put on all of his protective gear and got to work. He smoothed out the piece pictured thoroughly and followed directions to near perfection!

This 4 Box Shelf is being custom painted to fill the order of a staff member.  Our woodworkers would work for you too! Give a shout to Fred or Andy for more info at:

 Latham Works: 508-896-5776 extension 258.

Andy Needel
Vocational teacher

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Visiting at Latham

Well, I have to ring the doorbell for access to my old office and to be honest, that will take some getting used to. I have had the pleasure of visiting the campus and administrative offices on several occasions since my departure and nothing, I mean nothing, is better than a warm welcome from students upon arrival back at “work”.  Being greeted with shouts and hugs does wonders for your soul. Among the happy hellos was my favorite response…”You again? I thought you retired.” But there was a smile attached to that face and to those words. 

I was here to celebrate the dedication of the school to former Latham Administrators, now friends and fellow retirees. Kathy Long and Matt McNamara were here when I arrived at Latham and nurtured this agency through the early years--much in the way a parent helps to support and guide their child through elementary, middle and high school. It was great to reminiscence about the old days and see how far Latham has come to advance the care, treatment and support of people with Prader Willi Syndrome and other complex special needs.

I hope there are many reasons in the future for me to drop in at Latham. I love seeing the kids working diligently in school and our adults engaged in the community. And I absolutely love to hear those words…You, again?

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Latham Dedicates Campus Schoolhouse the McNamara-Long Schoolhouse

Yesterday Latham Centers dedicated its campus schoolhouse for children with complex special needs the McNamara-Long Schoolhouse. Amidst an intimate crowd of staff, students, and members of the Latham Board of Directors, Latham President & CEO Anne McManus unveiled the new schoolhouse sign with the assistance of honorees Matt McNamara and Kathy Long.

Together, Mr. McNamara and Ms. Long dedicated years of service to the children and adults who call Latham home. Kathy and Matt were involved with Latham in leadership capacities during its formative years and set up a foundation for its future growth and development and, for that, we are forever thankful. Their compassion, professionalism and commitment continue to serve as a model for all of us. Today, Latham School serves approximately 45 residential and day students on its tightly-knit Brewster campus. The schoolhouse houses a library, multiple classrooms, occupational therapy and nursing, technology, and administrative offices. 

Originally dedicated in 2002 as the McNamara Schoolhouse, an addition to the building has since been added while honoring the combined and collective work of Mr. McNamara and Ms. Long, dating as far back as 1974 through 2003.

Matt began his involvement at Latham (formerly Residential Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.) in 1974 assuming the role of Director of Education. Subsequently he served as Latham’s Executive Director, a position he held until 1984. 

Matt then went on to work with the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools as Director of Membership Assistance and Deputy Director until 1991 when he obtained his Law degree at Suffolk University. He then pursued a successful and meaningful career as an attorney helping children and schools throughout the Commonwealth. After his retirement, Latham was fortunate to have had Matt rejoin us as a member of the board of directors.

In 1974, Kathy began her tenure with Latham Centers in a social work capacity. As the scope of social services increased in the late 70’s and early 80’s and the social service department at Latham expanded accordingly, Kathy assumed new roles and responsibilities including supervisor and social services coordinator. In 1981 Kathy was one of three people responsible for the design and implementation of the Gilbough Center, the second program in the nation developed to address the unique needs of people with Prader-Willi Syndrome. With the inception of the Gilbough Center and the implementation of a mentoring program for Latham School students called Options for Independence, the demands for agency-wide regulatory and programmatic accountability increased significantly. Kathy assumed the role as Director of Programs, a position created to address the evolving needs of the agency.

In 1985 Kathy left Latham Centers but returned in 1988 as its first Director of Human Resources and Training. In this position, Kathy developed or revised many of Latham’s personnel policies and practices and instituted the agency’s first comprehensive staff training pertaining to therapeutic crises intervention. 

In 1993, as the agency’s administrative demands increased, Kathy was appointed to the position of Associate Executive Director - a position she held until her retirement in 2003.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

PWS Conference News

What an amazing week for conferences! Over the weekend I had the honor of speaking at the Ontario PWS Association in Toronto. I met new families and had the pleasure of seeing old friends. The conference presenters were made up of parents, caregivers, physicians, and attorneys all speaking to what matters most- helping our kids succeed.
This week I am in Virginia at the National Organization for Rare Diseases conference celebrating 30 years of advocacy and renewed hope offered through the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. What incredible people, dedicating their lives to improving medical care and research for the hundreds of rare diseases that many health professionals ignore. Today is day one and I am looking forward to learning and spreading the word about PWS. 

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Friday, October 17, 2014

Latham Works: Latham Students Volunteer at Brewster Ladies Library

Every Wednesday, Ben, Diane, and Rachel volunteer at Brewster Ladies Library. Over the past five weeks, our students have been cleaning all donated Legos in preparation for the opening of the library’s Lego club on October 25th. Our students also help in shelving books and DVDs; they clean toys for the toddler group and help in many other various library tasks. Our students just always rise to the occasion with their enthusiasm, professionalism, and willingness to learn new skills.

Submitted by:
Fred Walters

TIP of the WEEK: The Trouble with Consequences

When our kids act out in school or in the community it isn't unusual for people unfamiliar with the syndrome to turn to consequences to correct their behavior. The problem is that negative consequences don't work. Punishments have little to no effect on changing behaviors and can often add anxiety that often cause more of the unwanted behaviors.

 There are four types of consequences:
  • Penalty to LOSE something DESIRED- at best this approach is ineffective. At worst it will trigger stronger behaviors.  
  • Punishment to RECEIVE something UNDESIRED- equally as ineffective.
  • Negative reinforcement to AVOID something DESIRED- there are times where this approach is necessary if the person is not safe enough to engage in the desired behavior but, as a rule, this is not an effective approach.
  • Positive reinforcement to GAIN something DESIRED- this is the most effective for the long and short term. Using positive reinforcement strengthens skills as well as builds stronger relationships.
Remember that all behavior is about communication. When faced with undesired behaviors, offer alternative ways to communicate. It is likely that your child is trying to express  dissatisfaction, feelings of being overwhelmed or confusion or feelings of discomfort.  Use compassion. Ask what the child needs to feel safe.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Latham Centers Hosts Federated Church of Orleans on Campus

Members of the Federated Church of Orleans recently visited Latham School Campus in Brewster to witness their philanthropic support in action. The Church’s Local Mission Committee recently awarded Latham School with a grant to purchase iPads and accompanying assistive technology “apps” to benefit our students with complex special needs, including learning disabilities. The tour was led by a Latham student who charmed, captivated, and entertained the visitors with stories of classroom activities, and an insider’s peek into the challenges faced and overcome by our students and staff on a daily basis.
Throughout the tour, the Latham Student, guided by Assistant Principal Brittni Taylor and Development Associate Katrina Fryklund, described specific uses of iPad assistive technology from reading apps, to others specifically designed to promote physical fitness, and boost engagement and performance in mathematics and writing.

The members of the Federated Church of Orleans are truly impressed with all that happens at Latham School, including the uses of iPads in the classrooms and the personal testimonials of the day-to-day, life-changing activities at Latham Centers.  We are grateful and appreciative of the Local Mission Committee’s commitment toward advancing our mission to help children with complex special needs to lead abundant and fulfilling lives on Cape Cod.

Submitted by: 
Katrina Fryklund

Zulu Nyala - South Africa Photo Safari on Bidding for Good!

The Latham Centers Bidding for Good Auction closes at 10am tomorrow, Friday October 17th – don’t forget to get your last bids in! After the auction closes the items will be displayed at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club for our 5th Annual Charity Golf Classic Auction on Monday, October 20th. Take a look here at the once-in-a-lifetime, week long, South African Photo Safari experience. While you’re there check out the other 30 items! All proceeds support life-changing programs for our students and adults who call Latham Centers home.

Friday, October 10, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Surviving Halloween

Well it's that time of year again. The trifecta of holidays that focus on food and give all of us anxiety attacks long before the actual event! Halloween gives us nightmares but not for the same reason as the rest of the world. There are some things that we can do to allow our kids a chance to celebrate this holiday without all of the candy that goes along with it.

  • 1. Plan your own party so you have control over the food. There are great recipes online for Halloween themed veggies and fruit trays as well as sugar free punches.

  • 2. If your child's school will not agree to have a candy free classroom celebration then you may have to plan to keep your child home that day. The stress from attending the party may not be worth it. 

  • 3. Older kids may want to participate in handing out treats to the neighborhood kids that come to the house. We have had great results with handing out small bags of Halloween pencils, erasers, plastic rings or any small non-food themed item.
The idea is to allow your child to participate as much as possible without asking him or her to be surrounded by candy and food that they cannot have. That doesn't mean that they can't dress up, play games and be a part of the fun with the rest of the kids.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MAAPS and Latham School Animal Therapy Featured on NPR

Animal therapy is an important focus for many maaps (Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools) member schools. Latham School is a long-time maaps member—a non-profit association of 87 Massachusetts special education private schools which provide over 150 educational programs and services to more than 6,800 students with disabilities. For some Latham students, training to work with miniature donkeys leads them to volunteer and work at Cape Cod animal shelters while reaping many other emotional and social benefits.

Listen in on a recent “The Point” radio segment of WCAI/NPR featuring maaps Board Vice President and Latham Centers President & CEO Anne McManus discussing Latham School’s unique Asinotherapy program on Cape Cod. She is joined by Larry Sauer, maaps Board President and Vice President of Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover and Braintree. 

The Point, with host Mindy Todd, re-airs tonight at 7pm or listen later by downloading the podcast HERE. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

4 Patriots vs. Detroit Lions Home Game Tickets + a $400 Lucianos Ristorante Gift Card on Bidding for Good Auction!

We know you never gave up faith on the New England Patriots! Don’t miss out on making your early bids on 4 tickets to the Patriots vs. Detroit home game on November 23rd at 1pm. Then, spoil yourself and your family or friends with this $400 gift card to Luciano’s Ristorante Italiano located in Wrentham, near Gillette Stadium. Don’t forget to browse the other Bidding for Good items as you’re sure to find something else you can’t live without.

Friday, October 3, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Addressing Hoarding Behaviors

Hoarding ( sometimes called collecting) is a common PWS behavior. The act of gathering items usually related to a single theme is a behavior that can start very young and can progress to a problematic behavior over time. The longer the person has been allowed to hoard items, the harder it is to stop the behavior. Hoarding gives people a false sense of security which is why removing items or attempting to organize them can be met with strong reactions. The threat of losing items in their collection makes the person feel out of control and can cause an exaggerated response. You may see it as cleaning or rearranging but the person with PWS sees it as a direct threat to their sense of safety and security. 

So what do we do? You see a fire hazard, they see comfort. You see piles of old toys, pieces of paper, empty shampoo bottles (insert any item here) and they see their bounty. It is a fine line because we want to encourage interests and hobbies but want to discourage acquisitions that they will not let go of at any cost. One day you are innocently buying your child a toy fire truck and a few short years later your child's room looks like the warehouse exploded in your child's room. If you are already one step beyond wondering if your child has a hoarding problem, don't fret. There are ways to get your house back from the depths of the hoard.
  • Set a standard for cleanliness. Take a picture of their room in a tolerable condition, if the collection goes beyond what you consider acceptable then items need to be discarded or donated. Doing this will still allow for some collecting but the expectations are clear and predictable as to what you will allow and not allow.
  • Put it to good use. I have known individuals to make jobs out of their hoarding tendencies. One woman collected coupons and made a job out of clipping and sorting for her neighbors. Another woman had a small business recycling cans and bottles.
  • Appeal to their sensitive side. Children will be more willing to part with their hoard if they know that it will be put to good use by people in need. Local libraries will usually accept donations of magazines, local shelters will take clothing, recycling centers will accept newspapers. Doing a good deed for the community or environment could be just the motivation needed to clear out collected items.
  • Online collection sites. There are several web sites that allow for " electronic collecting"- Pintrest, Image Spark, We Heart It ( and dozens more). Encourage this form of collecting. It doesn't take up any space and still allows the person to keep images of the subject that they love. 
Hoarding takes on many forms but is almost always connected to a lack of control over ones life and a need to feel more secure. Look at what areas of your child's life could be lacking in these areas and you will be well on your way to getting a handle on this problematic behavior.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club overnight package available on Bidding for Good!

Learn about our Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club Package on our Bidding for Good site to support the children and adults with complex special needs at Latham Centers. Visit the site soon though, people are already starting to bid on this and all the other exciting packages!

LATHAM PROFILES: Kevin Monteiro, Maintenance Dept.

LATHAM PROFILES: Kevin Monteiro, 

Maintenance Department

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with a great team and knowing that what we do impacts the lives and well being of residents that live here at Latham.

Describe a few of your responsibilities and how you spend much of your time.

My responsibilities include landscaping, which sometimes involves having the students help with gardening and clean up. Maintenance in general is a big part of my day and we also have the students participate in a “maintenance class”. In a group of three to six students, we will pick up or fix things around the campus.

What skills are most important for professionals who work with individuals with PWS?

I believe the ability to listen and show patience is important when working with our students and residents. Being caring and having the willingness to learn about the cause and effects of PWS are important. It is key to know how best to care for individuals with PWS.

What are the most important lessons you attempt to teach new staff?

How to be present in the moment and realize that each resident is different and may require a different approach.

What do you love about working with individuals diagnosed with PWS?

Watching and helping them to achieve goals that are set before them. I also enjoy the teamwork displayed in the groups.

Has this job taught you anything about yourself?

Working at Latham has helped me with my patience and has taught me to put other people’s needs before mine. It has also taught me that I can handle situations that I wasn’t sure I could.

How do you spend your time when your’re not working at Latham?

Spending time with family and friends and enjoying all that Cape Cod has to offer.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating a career at Latham Centers?

I would tell them that working at Latham gives you a great feeling about what you do every day. Working here with the great staff and residents is very rewarding.

Interested in a career at Latham Centers? Click HERE to view our latest job postings.