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Updated: 23 hours 49 min ago

New items added to Latham Centers Bidding for Good Auction!

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 5:08pm

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.

TIP of the WEEK: Making Friends

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 4:39pm
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. We commonly hear from parents that their children are typically more comfortable interacting with adults because that is their primary company.

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.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll



Derek & I

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 10:23am

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.

Chris Gallant





"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." ~Carol Sobieski

"And they said my child would never..."

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 1:42pm
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.


Bidding For Good Auction is NOW OPEN!

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 1:38pm






Bidding For Good Auction is NOW OPEN! Latham Centers announces the launch of our online auction in conjunction with the Fifth Annual Latham Charity Golf Classic at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club.  The all-day affair takes place Monday, October 20, 2014.  While the tournament is sold out, there is still a fun way for you to participate and shop to benefit Latham Centers. Click here to go to view Latham's Bidding for Good Auction Site!The Online Auction Portion of the Charity Golf Classic is now open through Friday, October 17, 2014 at 10am.  Auction items range from arts and antiques, a South African Photo Safari, golf overnight stays and more surprises to come!  Additional items will be posted to BiddingForGood.com throughout the coming weeks, so be sure to check back often.  Please share this site with your family, friends and community, and let the bidding begin!All proceeds benefit Latham Centers programs for children and adults with complex special needs, including Prader-Willi Syndrome.  Winners of any online auction items will be notified on Tuesday, October 21, 2014.  Your contributions will help us to provide life-saving and life-enhancing services and facilities on Cape Cod and beyond.Click here to go to the bid today! Happy shopping!
774-353-9126   |  www.lathamcenters.org   |  info@lathamcenters.org



TIP of the WEEK: Keep Breathing

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 7:54am

We often overlook the benefits of taking deep, mindful breaths. We have busy lives, little time, and rarely put ourselves first but this is one thing that we can make time for and the health benefits are extraordinary. Did you know that 30 seconds of deep breathing everyday actually improves your tissue function, increases your immune system, and acts as a detox for your blood cells? Not to mention the calming effect it has on your central nervous system.

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.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

And they said my child would never...

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 6:31pm
Parents of children born with Prader Willi Syndrome 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.

And they said my child would never...

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:15am

TIP of the WEEK: Executive Function Disorder-Revisited

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 1:31pm



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.

Patrice CarrollManager of PWS Services

LATHAM PROFILES: Meaghan Hengst

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 8:20am

Latham Profiles: Meagham 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!







TIP of the WEEK: The Grieving Process in PWS

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 10:15am

The grief process for the person with PWS may look different than it does for the typical person; but it is no less painful. Here are some tips to help the person with PWS with the loss of an important person in their life:

  • 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.


Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Last Day of Summer Break!

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 4:46pm

Ending summer vacation the right way with a round of mini-golf at Pirate's Cove!

Submitted by:Kristi Dolbec

10 Reasons Why I Teach at Latham Centers

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 8:06am

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!!!


Amie Gould
Teacher at Latham Centers


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

TIP of the WEEK: Back To School Part 2

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:29am


By this time, most of your kids have started their first week of school. You have either experienced a honeymoon period where everything went smoothly and according to plan or you have been thrown into the fire. Both are normal responses to new environments and experiences. Here are some ways to make it the best school year that you can.

1. Communicate. You should have some form of daily communication with your child's school. You may see patterns of behavior or triggers before the school staff does and your input is valuable. Always speak up if you see something that is not working but remember to point out what is going well also. Critical feedback is important and should be welcome but if that is the only time you speak to your child's teacher you will build a relationship based on tension and animosity.
 
2. Be active in the creation of your child's IEP. Your child's teacher is the expert in special education but you are the expert on your child. Both viewpoints are just as important as the other and joining together will create a document that allows for the most success for your child.

3. Be honest. It may be difficult to reveal some of the more embarrassing behaviors that you have seen your child do but withholding that information will set your child and the teacher up for failure. The more they know the better they can prepare. You will also hear about behaviors at school that you don't see at home. This is normal and is not necessarily an indication that they are doing anything wrong. The school will likely not see everything that you see at home and this also is not an indication that they are doing something better than you are. This is a normal reaction to different environments.

4. Follow the rules. Your child's classroom will have different rules than you have at home. That's life. Your child should be expected to follow those rules and will quickly figure out that different environments have different rules. Unless it is medically or clinically necessary to change the rules for your child- don't.

The key to a successful school year is careful and compassionate communication, holding both your child's school and your child accountable for their part in the education process and allowing everyone involved the chance to succeed.

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

Why I Work at Latham Centers

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 3:35pm

The ability to create special, personal memories with the students is why being a teacher at Latham beats anywhere else. Being able to create a mural in my sensory room with all of my students AND being able to attend community outings with all of my students are memories I will never forget.
And the administration team is pretty awesome, too.

Kara McDowell
Teacher

Interested in joining our team? Click HERE to view our latest employment opportunities.

Latham Lessons

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:24am

Someone asked me today how many years have I worked at Latham. Thirty. 3 – Zero. Thirty years at this wonderful place. Some of the staff I am now training aren’t even that old.  I have witnessed enormous change in that time. I think I can recall every nook and cranny in the main house--parts of which no longer exist. I remember sitting in the upstairs porch (gone) sorting socks in the 1980’s. I remember going down the back stairs (gone) into the art classroom (gone) and out to the side porch (gone) to collect milk from a milkman (gone, too) to bring to the kitchen (remodeled).  This was before we had a school building. Before a clinical building.  Before moving the administration off-campus. Before we had a beautiful dorm. Before the idea of a “Museum Campus” was even thought about. Before we had cell phones, computers, smart boards, and yes, even before we had boys. Even before donkeys.

Sometimes I think about the kids, now adults, whose lives have touched mine. I try and remember them all and many stand out for their courage and frankly, their feistiness. Those pesky HIPAA regs prevent me from sharing details but know that Brenda, Charmaine, Anna, Debbie, Donna, Wits, Stephanie, Kathy, Donese, Lisa, Crystal, Julie, Maria, Cheryl, Allison, Sarah, Misty and so many more made their presence known and I have never forgotten them. I think they taught me much more than I taught them. I believe I became a better parent through my apprenticeship journey and still say that it was easier to get 32 Latham students up and ready for school than it was to get my own three kids out the door.

I have had the honor of working with truly wonderful staff. Staff whose dedication, generosity, guidance and professionalism helped me chart my own career course in this field.  More than a few times I have had new hires who looked somewhat familiar to me—and of course they did…I have their class photos from 2nd or 3rd grade when they were in school with my kids.  I’ve worked with their parents, occasionally even their grandparents. It is important, meaningful work and I am preparing to leave it in good hands as I finally make good on my plan to retire. Leaving Latham is really hard. And I’m not sure that Latham will really ever truly leave me. It has worked its way into my heart and soul and I am forever grateful for the opportunities and life lessons it has taught me. As I finish up this October, I hope I can tell you how much you meant to me without choking up. If my experience writing this is any indication, I will fail miserably….

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant


"You have been my friends. That in itself is a tremendous thing." 
~E.B. White - 

TIP of the WEEK: Teaching Boundary Skills

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 7:45am


Learning and respecting appropriate boundaries is the cornerstone to making and maintaining friendships and becoming a functioning member of society. Unfortunately this is an area where many of our kids struggle immensely. Here are some ways to help your child learn how to improve their boundary skills.
 
1. Role play. Act out with your child both good and bad interactions. It may also be useful to video tape your role play so your child can see first hand what is acceptable and what is not. As is the case with so many unwanted behaviors, they simply may not know how they are coming across to others.

2. Be consistent. If they are close talkers then teach arms length personal space and redirect them every time they step too close. This behavior will only keep presenting itself unless it is corrected every time it happens.

3. Don't be tolerant of any sexualized behavior. We know that undressing during moments of high anxiety is a behavior that is not uncommon and we also know that the intention is not to be sexually threatening however, this behavior will cause enormous problems later in life. A 5 year old stripping in public is manageable, a 25 year old is not and will likely bring legal action. This behavior should be met with zero tolerance for their own sake. This is also true for masturbating anywhere other than their own room or bathroom.

4. Learning empathy. The majority of our kids have great empathy for others. Their level of empathy can be compromised if there is personal gain involved. The best way to teach empathy is by showing it yourself. It is crucial that your child never hears or feels that you are excusing their behavior because of the syndrome. Likewise do not allow your child to hear you blame someone else for their misbehavior. Their actions are their responsibility and we teach the necessary skills from there.

Even though our kids struggle with standing too close, repetitive question asking, over attaching to certain people, and sometimes disrobing it does not mean that these are life long behaviors. They are often a result of either heightened anxiety or simply not knowing that it is not appropriate. These skills can be learned and should be taught from a very early age.


Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

Vacation Week at Latham!

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:49am

What types of activities do the students excitedly wait for during this week? Here is one that we truly enjoy. It is  educational but mostly…it’s fun. What a great resource in our own back (or maybe it is the front) yard!
Canal Kids, Sandwich Drop in and join the Canal Park Rangers for fun & educational programs exploring different aspects of the canal w/ hands-on activities & games, learn what Park Rangers do, about marine life, and more. Presenting on 8/26:  Birds of a Feather
Submitted by:Kristi Dolbec

This week’s science outing: Seal Tours at Monomoy Island Seal Tours!

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:24am

Now this is the way to learn science! Latham heads out to sea to explore the habitat of the seal. Monomoy Island here we come!

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Browse our Bidding for Good Charity Auction HERE through Oct. 17.

There’s Hope: Presenting Latham’s PWS Short Feature