Latham Profile for: John Bonanni
Residential Counselor

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

John: “I find patience is the most important skill, followed by a sense of humor, compassion, neutrality, and finally, firm limits. Education and training about PWS is also vital to the work we do, but equally important is to remember that the syndrome is simply a part of the person, not wholly what defines him or her. Treating the individual like a person, rather than “a disabled person,” is absolutely essential.”

What do you love about working with individuals with PWS?

John: “I love that what’s therapeutic for them is often therapeutic for me. I love sharing in their experiences, like the first time they see a Monet up close or hiking a monument to watch a Cape Cod sunset. I love seeing them help and comfort each other. And I love that the kids I work with have a profound ability to constantly surprise me with the progress they make–whether that means learning to do a load of laundry on their own or exercise deep breathing as a new coping skill. I love the freedom involved in activity-planning and I love that the team I work with offers their support in every way possible.”

What is most helpful to individuals with PWS?

John: “Most helpful to individuals with PWS is a nurturing, but structured environment that combines predictability with a sense adventure. Sometimes it’s important to “forget” about the syndrome and take risks. They are teenagers. They want to laugh and joke and dance and listen music adults don’t like. Reflecting this feeling, I also find that allowing the kids to expand their comfort zones through wider community integration is essential to their growth (and mine).” 

What do you do when you are not working at Latham?

John: “When I’m not at Latham, I substitute teach English at local high schools. For recreation and sanity, I run long distance, read, write, and paint.”

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” 
~Henry Adams

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