Latham Centers Blog
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.
- 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.
Manager PWS Services
Creating a Behavior Plan
Top Ten Strategies for Emotional Meltdowns in Public
Community Success Story
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.
“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world.” ~Muhammad
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!
Manager of PWS Services
International Rare Disease Day
Latham Attends National Organization for Rare Disease Gala
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.
“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”~Vincent van Gogh
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.
Manager PWS Services
Strategies for the Classroom
Science Teacher Inspires Students
Innovations in Special Education
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.....
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!
Manager of PWS Services
Getting a Good Nights Sleep
Nights at Latham
"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow." ~Charlotte Brontë
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.
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: email@example.com.
Hang in there. We are able to help.
"Go the extra mile. It's never crowded." ~Author Unknown
- 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!
"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."
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.
Manager of PWS Services
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
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.
“There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.”~Author Unknown
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!
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ~Corrie Ten Boom
AmazonSmile: A new way to donate
SMILE.AMAZON.COMAmazonSmile 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 smile.amazon.com, 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.
Keeping children with PWS engaged and interested during the school day can be extremely challenging. Here are some easy modifications that we have found to be effective:
1. Adjustable desks that allow children to stand instead of sit allows for kids who cannot tolerate sitting still a little more room to move freely. Standing allows kids who struggle with small spaces the sense of feeling less confined and often find it easier to concentrate.
2. For children who need to constantly fidget we use Thera bands stretched across the bottom of their desks. This allows them to bounce their legs quietly without disrupting the rest of the class. Having small and accessible stress balls and Thera putty is also helpful for fidgeters.
3. Take frequent sensory breaks. Every 30 minutes or so allow the kids to get out of their seats and do something physical. Physical activity improves concentration and reduces undesirable behaviors that often are the result of boredom or pent up energy.
4. Avoid lecture style lessons as much as possible. Many of our kids struggle with auditory processing and spoken lessons are almost always overwhelming for kids with PWS because they simply cannot keep up. They are still processing the first few sentences and the teacher is half way through the lesson. It is not a compatible teaching style for children with PWS.
5. So many of our kids struggle with day time somnolence and sometimes need to nap. This is ok. You are better off allowing a child who is clearly fatigued a planned and short nap rather than insisting that a sleepy child stay alert and participate.
We are always interested in hearing your ideas. How does your school help your child to be a better learner?
Manager of PWS Services
Strategies for the Classroom
Creating a Behavior Plan
“An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.” ~Scott Belsky
“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ~Maya Angelou
During the month of February and March Latham Centers is teaming up with NEIMAN MARCUS Natick and Guerlain Beauty Products in support of our children and adults. Tickets for the Guerlain Beauty Products Exclusive Gift Raffle are 1 for $20 and 3 for $50, and all proceeds enrich our programs at Latham Centers. The Grand Prize, valued at $1500, includes beauty products ranging from men and women’s fragrances, facial creams, make-up products, Latham soaps, and more.
Five runner-up prizes include other fine fragrances and make-up products by the prestigious French company.
View the full prize list and buy your tickets online HERE.
Tickets will be sold online through March 21st. Winning tickets will be drawn March 22nd. You need not be present to win.
Contact Katrina Fryklund in the Development Office at 774.353.9126 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Good luck, or “Bonne Chance” as they say in France!
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 1 PM EST WEDNESDAY...
* LOCATIONS...CAPE COD AND MARTHA'S VINEYARD.
* HAZARD TYPES...SNOW.
Enough Already. I. Am. Not. Going. To. Post. About. The. Weather.
So, Latham friends, what the heck else is going on in the universe? Apparently, if I think hard, other topics may be able to rise to the surface of my brain. Isn’t it interesting how we can get ourselves stuck on a topic? I pledged to myself this morning that I would not “go there” (you know where). So, I have spent much of the morning trying my hardest to talk about something, anything else besides the weather. Communication however, is a two-way street and I am apparently on a one-way that is also a dead end.
Where to go, where to go after the “Good Mornings” are exchanged? I know. I could ask about the State of the Union address happening later today. Politics is always a conversation starter! Well, that didn’t work. The response back was, "Will it get cancelled due to the impending snow storm?" Ok. Then I tried, "Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?" "The Broncos, but if it is frigging freezing out, then Manning will stumble." Ugh. This is harder than I thought. Keep trying, I tell myself.
I deftly move another conversation along to TV. "Hey, have you seen that new series on HBO? True Detective? It is intense!" Oh yes, and here it comes, "Is that the one in Louisiana? Did you know they are getting snow down there and it is so cold they are closing schools?"
Music! Always a good topic! "So, did you watch the Grammys Sunday night? I loved, loved, loved Pink!" "Not much of it, no. Can you imagine wearing one of those dresses on a red carpet here in the East? You’d be an icicle before you closed the limo door."
Food. When you work at Latham, food is a topic we discuss professionally. It should be a great topic to chat about. I say: "I brought a salad in for lunch today." "Salad? What are you, crazy? It is so cold out; you should have soup, something to warm you up. Whip up something in the slow cooker like a stew and it will get you through this artic vortex (that is never leaving us)."
As I bang my head slowly on my desk it has sparked concern in the voice of my friend.
"Are you OK she asked?" "No, no I’m not." "Well, says she, it’s better than slipping on the ice and breaking your hip."
I. Give. Up.
“If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” ~Mark Twain
The winter months, especially post holiday, can be a difficult time for all of us but for a child or adult with PWS the boredom and isolation of winter can be grueling. Less sunlight, cold weather and the lack of special events such as holidays and get togethers keeps us inside and less social and this can lead to boredom at best and seasonal depression at worst. Here are some ways to beat the winter blahs:
- Plan at least one social event between February and March. This can be anything from an extended family dinner, a basement dance party for the kids or any get together that requires some planning and a change in the day to day routine. Let your child help in the planning and use a calendar to count down the days. This gives them and you something to focus on and look forward to.
- Make a winter reading list. If your child can read encourage them to do so often and make this a part of their daily routine. If your child can't read, use audio books. These can be downloaded free through your local public library. Reading to your child is also an option but audio books will allow your child to independently spend their downtime. Avoid activities that require you to be directly involved all of the time because doing so teaches your child to depend on others for their entertainment and this is unrealistic especially as they get older. If your child is careful with books then your public library is a great option. If they are not then online stores such as Amazon have very inexpensive used books to purchase.
- Winter is a great time to do indoor projects like redecorating. Get your child involved in redesigning their bedroom or play area. Go online, pick themes and plan. The idea is to get them invested and interested in making their room their own and the project itself gives you and them something to break the monotony.
- Winter is a great time to plan your spring activities such as gardening. Use this time to plan, order seeds, start seedlings and design your spring garden. Kids and adults with PWS are typically very good at this kind of a project because it requires a concrete and spatial thought process, something they are most often quite good at.
The bottom line is to create light and hope during a time of the year that many struggle through. Plan activities. Use books instead of tv as much as you can as this will allow for greater use of their imagination and less time to zone out. Plan fun indoor activities that everyone can look forward to. And when the temperature isn't too unbearably cold, go outside! Winter is a beautiful time to explore nature and participate in outdoor activities.
We would love to hear some of your ideas for beating the winter blues...
Manager of PWS Services
Any Given February Morning
Getting Back into a Routine
Musings of a Child Care Supervisor
"When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting."~Jon Kabat-ZinnWhen you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/boredom_2.html#tFhsoUs86S73K4hR.99