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The True Heroes

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:42pm

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 12th Annual American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast sponsored by the Cape Cod and Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross. I could tell you how excited I was to meet the real Captain Richard Phillips (Charming? Check! Funny? Check! Articulate? Check! Hero? Check! And not too hard on the eyes either ). I could tell you about all the interesting people I met at the breakfast and trust me, there were hundreds there, but I want to focus on the heroes. What struck me was that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Most of us don’t wake up in the morning and say “Hey, I think I will save someone’s life today.” And yet, these remarkable people did just that. Kids who were lifeguards, grieving parents seeing a need for services for wounded veterans, neighbors stepping outside to see what was wrong, a pizza delivery driver on his way to a customer, volunteers at the 2013 Boston Marathon. There were community service heroes who devote their time to others; those who see a need and fill it whether it’s for therapy pets or help for the homeless, or teaching math to individuals with developmental challenges. 

Imagine you are customer in a store, just driving along down the road, or a guest at a wedding who ends up saving the life of the father of the groom. The brave first responders, military, police, fire personnel who never know what they will be asked to respond to on land, on the water or in the air. What if you are an organ donor asked to donate to a stranger far away? All good Samaritans in the right place at the right time. All of these and more were recognized for their actions; some placing themselves at great risk by stepping up and helping others.

I am sometimes discouraged by who we, as a culture, choose to worship as heroes. I love, love, love sports, but does having this talent or gift really make you a hero? I am glad to say my faith in common sense was restored by the wonderful tribute these citizens received from their community, our own Cape Cod and the Islands. And to be honest, I consider the work being done by our staff at Latham Centers to be transformative and life-saving as well. While I am not a native Cape Codder, I have always been proud to consider myself a citizen of this beautiful sand bar, living and working amongst so many heroes-- and there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather live. Except of course, in the winter….

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

"Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary."~Gerard Way

Sensory Art Class

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 9:04am

Our third term kicked off this past week and what does that mean… New Clubs! Our Sensory Art Club was such a hit that word got around to the students and we now have two clubs dedicated to the Sensory Art Club. This class provides the students the opportunity to have all five senses be impacted. Brewster Falls teacher, Amie Gould states that the Club promotes a “calming atmosphere and allows the students the opportunity to be creative while developing their fine motor skills." Physical Education Teacher Mary Ware created a “Rainbow Sensory Board” that all students pass throughout the day. Students have the opportunity to touch/look at the board which combines calming colors and stimulating material that meets the sensory needs of our students. Way to go teachers!

Gerald J. Pouliot, M. EdDirector of Education

TIP of the WEEK: The PWS Bladder

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 10:58am

Many of our kids and adults have issues with urinary incontinence. This is often seen as behavioral but the truth is, although it can be, it seldom is something that they have control over. The typical person feels the need to urinate when the bladder is half full (about one cup) and has extreme urgency when the bladder is near full (about 2 cups). The person with PWS does not feel that initial half full urge to urinate and by the time they do feel the need to go the bladder is nearly full. This means that by the time they feel the urge it is almost too late. You know this if you have ever been stuck in traffic with a person with PWS; Once they say they have to go, you have minutes, on the generous side, to get to a bathroom. So here is what you can do:

  • 1. Plan bathroom breaks at least every hour whether they have the urge to go or not.
  • 2. The flow of a person with PWS is different as well and they should be encouraged to wait several seconds before stepping away from the toilet. It may take up to 30 seconds for the flow of urine to start.
  • 3. Encourage drinking during the day and less so in the evening. Overnight incontinence is extremely common and restricting fluids after dinner will help with this.
  • 4. Avoid shaming of any kind. This will only foster sneaking behavior around incontinence; Hiding wet underclothes and pants, unwanted behaviors due to embarrassment or guilt etc...

Don't forget that people with PWS are more prone to hyper hydration than a non PWS person. Hyper hydration can be as or more dangerous than dehydration. Always check with your child's doctor as to how much fluid your child should drink each day.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

AmeriCorps Cape Cod Making a Difference at Latham

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 5:47pm
AmeriCorps members Scott, Allyson, Libby and Sumi break while clearing out the second floor “Barn” building of the former New England Fire and History Museum now owned by Latham.  AmeriCorps members pose with Community Connections consumer volunteers
on the front steps of the Former Fire Museum Property along Route 6A Brewster
AmeriCorps Cape Cod has been improving the Cape for the past fifteen years, and Latham Centers is grateful to be selected as one of its Brewster improvement sites during National Volunteer Week: April 6-12.

Concentrating on natural resource management, disaster preparedness and response, education, and volunteer engagement, AmeriCorps Cape Cod’s program includes some 32 members from around the country working to improve the Cape throughout the year. We were honored and fortunate that the organization selected Latham as part of “All Access Brewster Week” with special focus on improving the lives and accessibility of special needs individuals in our historic hamlet.

We thank Sumi, Scott, Libby, Allyson, Bethany and the entire AmeriCorps team for selecting Latham Centers and our newly acquired Fire Museum Property at 1439 Main St. for a spring cleanup inside and out. The group has worked tirelessly with volunteers from Community Connections -a day habilitation program attended by several Latham adults—to clean up debris in spaces once filled with firefighting memorabilia. Latham plans to renovate the buildings of the former Fire Museum for expanded recreational, educational and vocational programming for our children and adults with complex special needs, with an emphasis on inclusive community facilities use during off peak hours. Design studies are currently underway as Latham dreams big for the future with the help of committed community partners like AmeriCorps Cape Cod.

Other AmeriCorps Cape Cod Brewster sites this week have included Quivet Marsh Vista, Mant’s Landing Beach and Long Pond, Linnell Landing and Brewster Community Gardens. To learn more about AmeriCorps Cape Cod click HERE.

Submitted by
Katrina Fryklund and
Gerry Desautels

Creativity Takes Flight at Latham

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:08am

As some may be aware we have started up a creativity group over the past months. We meet once a month with a craft idea for our individuals to make and they enjoy adding their own creative spin on it. In October 2013, we had the theme of a ghost. November was all about the bird of the month. In December 2013 it was snowmen, and in January our individuals created paintings that were exhibited at an art show on the Cape during February to celebrate Valentine's Day. The project for February was paper lanterns for the Chinese New Year and now it is Spring (finally) so our March theme is Easter bunnies.

This group is all about allowing our individuals a way to express themselves creatively in a positive way. Once the individual has completed their project, it is joyful to see how happy and proud they are of their creation. From a bunch of random items something beautiful is made. This is one of the reasons I personally do what I do. It builds confidence, social skills, and independence. I could probably go on and on about how it is such a positive thing for our individuals but will end with it is my pleasure to be involved with such a creative bunch of individuals.

Submitted by:
Erik Tibbetts
Residential Manager, Adult Services Latham Centers

TIP of the WEEK: Accepting Change

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:42am

Let's face it , change is hard for everyone. We all feel safer and more secure when life is predictable and we get to see the road ahead clearly. Unfortunately that's not the way life works and for our kids this can be the source of endless stress and anxiety. No one can predict each day but there are some things that we can do to make accepting change a little easier.

1. Talk about it. If there is the possibility of disappointment talk to your son or daughter about how they might handle a change in the plans. Don't do this for every event but if the situation is not set in stone and for some reason they found about about it, let them express their feelings and practice how to talk about feeling let down or angry. Nobody wants to look forward to something and have it not happen and these are learning opportunities to practice appropriate responses to hard feelings.

2. Plan mindful changes in their schedule. If you have done the same thing every Tuesday afternoon for the past 6 months plan a small change to that schedule and use it as a teachable moment.

3. People fear change because it makes us feel powerless. As we mature emotionally we begin to accept change as we feel more internal and external power over our environment. Allow your child choice when change occurs. Allow them to feel more in control when the very structure that makes them feel in control is taken away. If something in their life is changing, big or small, give them options as to how they want to proceed. This can be as simple as choosing their new bedroom if you are moving or picking out new school supplies if their favorite teacher is leaving.

Learning to face change bravely is a sophisticated coping skill that comes with time and practice. Help them to get there by validating and teaching them that change does not equal powerlessness.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Related Posts:
PWS Worries
Change is Hard
Transitioning to Adult Services

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” ~Jim Rohn

MCAS Testing in Full Swing

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 3:27pm

MCAS is in full swing! Students have prepared diligently and feel fully equipped to take on the state’s testing. Students ranging from 6th grade all the way to our 10th graders have taken on the journey that is MCAS. 
I want to thank our extraordinary teachers that have used a variety of resources that have ranged from the iPad, to the classroom Promethean Board, role-play, and to the good old-fashion textbook! 
Good luck students of Latham!

Submitted by:Brittni TaylorAssistant Principal

B I N G O !

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 9:07am
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

TIP of the WEEK: Good Dental Hygiene

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 9:26am

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

Horticulture Program news!

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 1:49pm

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!

Chris Gets Pampered at the Guerlain Pampering Party in Natick!

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 4:21pm

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!

Tue, 03/25/2014 - 3:48pm
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!

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

Mon, 03/24/2014 - 4:41pm

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.

TIP of the WEEK: Making Friends

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 12:06pm

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

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

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 3:44pm
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 benefitlife-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.”

Tagging Along

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 9:39am

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

Latham Adults Participate in Special Olympics Winter Games

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 8:58am
Congratulations to the Latham adults who participated with the Sunshine Capers Team in the recent SOMA bowling event!


TIP of the WEEK: Making Doctors Visits Manageable

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 9:35am

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

Spa Night at Latham!

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 2:30pm
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.


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