The LABBB Collaborative
  March 2016
LABBB Chenery Middle School Best Buddies
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Turn up the Music and the LABBB PAC
As I entered the LABBB PAC meeting on the second floor of the Lexington Community Center on February 11, the room was thumping from the music below. The LABBB PAC meetings are scheduled on the same evening as our student dances so parents can drop off their sons and daughters and attend the PAC meeting. That evening, the LABBB Valentine's Dance was being held. You wouldn't believe the wave of students that were entering the dance. Within thirty minutes, the party was in full swing and the room was packed with students dressed in red and dancing away. LABBB dances are always festive, energetic, and lively. All you need to do is experience one of them and you will understand how lively they are. It was one of the coldest days of winter, but that didn't stop the students from attending the LABBB dance.
As co-chairs of the LABBB PAC, Trish Orlovsky and Audrey DeSisto were beginning to facilitate the meeting. I couldn't help but smile as the vibrations of the music below seemed to get louder and louder. As I was headed to the meeting, Paula Rizzo had said to me, "If the music is too loud, just let me know and I will turn it down." It was definitely loud, but do you think for one second that I would go downstairs and ask them to turn down the LABBB party?
My presentation to the LABBB PAC was about our Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (ICEI). But my purpose in writing this article isn't to tell you about the topic I presented; it is to share what I realized while I was there. I started to listen to the parents' questions, and I realized that this PAC has so much knowledge to share with our community. I started to take some mental notes about how LABBB could provide more resources, and when I got home I started to write them down.
I write often about community, and the LABBB PAC is another part of our community which supports our parents. In special education, we have 688s, transition plans, SSI, special needs trusts, Mass Health, adult services, housing, and many, many more topics. Navigating through all these items can be overwhelming for a parent. On the other hand, you have many parents that are part of this group who can give you the blueprints. This will significantly decrease your stress and time wasted trying to do it on your own. I also believe sharing is much more than just sending out a link to a resource. That isn't good enough. We do that too much these days with email. We need to talk, share experiences, learn tips from parents, and talk about what we could have done differently and mistakes that we made. We will certainly send out the links, but coming together in person is much more meaningful and effective.
I have been working in special education for 26 years. You would think that I would have all the answers at my fingertips. I don't, but I know my resources, and they are not hyperlinks, they are people. When I needed to take guardianship over my sister, to whom did I turn? A LABBB resource. It was incredibly easy; all I had to do was ask the question.
We have an opportunity here because we have extraordinary parents with a significant amount of knowledge that can help you. All you need to do is participate. You may have your own expertise that you can share, but the power of the community in LABBB will make this process easier while your son or daughter is in school, and when he or she graduates. Your resources will be just as important after graduation as they are now.
The topics at our PAC meetings are certainly important, but the connections you make with other parents are even more important. You may not see a topic that you feel is a priority for your son or daughter, but many other discussion items come up, and parents will know to whom they can go. Sometimes just getting an answer isn't good enough; hearing real-life stories from people who have been in your position can be more valuable.
When you need a resource, it is much easier to pick up the phone and call a parent than it is to call the Social Security office, Department of Developmental Services, or anyone else who won't know you personally. Remember, you are going to need this resource after graduation as well. Who will you call?
Building a community is like building your financial portfolio. It will only grow if you start investing immediately. You will need this resource for a lifetime. You don't want to say to yourself, "I wish I did that back then" or "I wish I knew about that." The only way you are going to know what you are missing is by talking with other parents who have gone through what you will experience in the future.
Please make an effort to come and attend LABBB PAC meetings. Come and connect with fellow parents and be part of a community.  

PAC officers:

Co-chairs: Trish Orlovsky and Audrey Desisto
Recording Secretary: Jane McArthur
Treasurer: Laurel Collins

Congratulations to Clara for landing her first job!
By: Jeff Caritey, Program Coordinator
While meeting with her Vocational Counselor, Clara expressed an interest in exploring the field of cosmetology. Together they researched and explored job opportunities in the area. With support, Clara completed an application for a receptionist position at Sports Clips in Lexington. Upon receiving a call back for her to come in for an interview, her team covered many areas of interview skills with her. Provided with coaching and support beforehand, her Vocational Counselor drove Clara to Sports Clips where she was able to independently interview and successfully obtain the job! Clara has been working at Sports Clips for a few months now and is really enjoying the experience as well the money!  Her managers have been very supportive in training Clara, and report that she is doing a great job! 

Fox Hill Inclusion
By: Beth Veguilla, Stephanie Waite, Beth Rogers
Students at Fox Hill in grades three through five have been successfully attending inclusion classes!  Teachers here at Fox Hill have gone above and beyond in welcoming our students to their classes.  Each student participates during the day.  Inclusion ranges from fifty minutes to over three hours per day.  The inclusion classes that they attend are:  morning meeting, recess, lunch, art, gym, music, chorus, science and social studies.  Students have also been able to participate in the music concerts, instrument lessons and school assemblies. The electricity show and a viewing of the Celtic's 1984 championship trophy are some of the great activities that they have participated in the month of February, alone.  Way to go Fox Hill!

The Lexington High LABBB Yoga "Movement"
By: Margo B. Stitt, Physical Therapist

                                                                Over the past 3 years, I have been working with the classrooms at AHS, including the Ottoson program, on Yoga, Relaxation, Mindfulness and Posture Prep. I started with the Posture Prep, trying to help students to keep more upright during their school day. This in itself will help improve a person's energy, breathing, and endurance to better access all aspects of their curriculum. As I started to attend courses on how to best use Yoga, Mindfulness and ultimately Relaxation and self regulation in the school setting with emphasis on the student populations LABBB services, I started to add in deep breathing, relaxation techniques, strengthening and stretching using Yoga postures, and some simple guided mindfulness. I then began to notice, and be more aware, that the teachers in all the programs based out of AHS were themselves using relaxation techniques at regular daily times to help their students regulate themselves. During my groups, I also started to note that some staff were not only helping the students participate, but they too were participating in various parts of the group.

And so the "movement" began at AHS. Each classroom participates in one group a week of Yoga/Relaxation/Posture Prep with PT, with Ottoson also having another group of Yoga/Relaxation/and Guided Mindfulness run by an OT.
The greatest gains have been that the teachers run their own relaxation times with an added bonus of some of the students now using the self regulating/relaxation techniques themselves:
  • A mother of a student in Chris Nicastro's class commented during her child's IEP that the student was noted to sit down and practice deep breathing techniques during a time of noted anxiety and stress the student was experiencing��� at home. The mother noted that the child used to "hyperventilate" in the past, but now the child actually performs the deep breathing properly with good relaxation results.
  • Donna Vanderlinden noted that her students, and students from Chris 's class attending MCAS, know how to use the deep breathing and relaxation techniques, modeled by Donna and Jeff Caritey, much better and thus regulate and focus better than the students who have not experienced the Yoga groups, and so attend better to the MCAS.
  • Tori Dennis and Peggy Sheehan's students are now able to better follow the deep breathing, Yoga postures, Relaxation and simple guided mindfulness, with Tori noting one of her non-verbal students being consistently more "vocal" right after the group.
  • One young man in Peggy's class now puts on a Yoga routine on his Ipad that OT, Sue Ceurvels, showed him, and so practices his own Yoga routine in a quiet area, "when the classroom is too loud".
All of the teachers have reported that their students are in a more focused and better relaxed state after the group.

Having practiced and used Yoga, Relaxation, and Mindfulness myself for many years, and using it in the schools with our very different populations, I never expected such very good carryover and practice. The teachers and students based out of AHS have made Yoga, Mindfulness, and Relaxation a part of their day ���and better yet, some of our students have made it part of their lives. What a great team effort with all of the wonderful staff at AHS. I certainly would not have gotten the enduring results without the daily efforts of the classroom teachers and their staff. Like anything, daily practice even for a little bit, can make the biggest difference!
March Madness
By: Stephanie Wiechens, Physical Therapist
As March Madness is approaching, the students in Ms. Brown's room at Chenery Middle School have been gearing up. They participate in a Posture Prep class twice a week which includes leg "marching" as warm-�up exercise. The students are familiar with their routine including side leg kicks, squats, calf raises, arm circles, and bicep curls, to name a few. There are some students who love to lead the class with PT. At the end of the session, and sometimes throughout the week, those students who are demonstrating great posture and are paying attention to the teacher, receive a "massage" using the "massage stick". The "massage stick" has been a great way to encourage good sitting posture while sitting at their desks. Good posture helps to promote attentiveness and learning. Fridays have been dubbed "Fun Friday"; when the class has done a great job with their exercises, PT turns music on to help motivate the students to continue with their exercises. We save the last few minutes to "let loose" and have a dance party!           

Clinical Corner - Written Communication Works!
By: Lisa Gurdin, Clinical Coordinator
When our students are distressed, they may not be able to comprehend and process an adult's spoken instructions, prompts, and suggestions. It is especially difficult for students who struggle with processing information delivered verbally. During these moments, we have found (with many of our students) that written communication can be more effective than verbal communication.  Written communication can be in the form of statements, questions, or drawings.  White boards or plain paper can be used to implement this intervention.  Drawings can also be used to show behaviors that are expected or appropriate for different settings. 
Not a New Idea
Historically, nonverbal methods of communication have been prescribed as an attempt to redirect behavior (e.g., a pre-printed cue card or using physical gestures like pointing or showing disapproval or approval in facial expressions). As we have practiced written communication over the years, we have refined its use to increase its effectiveness. We also gave it a name: Spontaneous Written Communication or SWC.
SWC is actually a tool that contributes to building a relationship with another person and to better understand another person's needs.  It also instills a message of trust in the individual who struggles with understanding verbal expression: that the staff who support them utilize communication methods that work. 
SWC can be implemented in a number of ways including (but certainly not limited to):
  • Writing basic questions for students to answer by circling YES or NO ( "Do you want to go to gym?").
  • Writing open questions that to which a student may write an answer ("What is bothering you today?").
  • Writing a statement that you think might be important to the student and give a TRUE/FALSE choice.
  • Reading aloud what you have written if the student is a non-reader or a limited reader.
  • Writing prompts in the form of sentence starters, e.g., "I am feeling ________" and "I am feeling angry because_________..."
  • With a "check-off box" next to each different answer, writing questions with several possible answers, or writing different statements about a situation so the student may read and select one. The choices can be a little off-beat to spark interest.
  • Writing questions that are unrelated to the situation to distract the student from the current problem and to promote engagement: "What did you do over the weekend?"
  • Drawing pictures that show what the student should be doing (e.g. drawing a student sitting at his/her desk). You may also draw a contrasting picture of what not to be doing, so the student may select the more appropriate picture.
  • Writing questions to help a student process a difficult situation or to self-evaluate:
  • What did I do that was not okay?
o   What happens if I do this at school?
o   How will other people feel about that?
o   What could I have done instead?
o   How do I get back on track?

Students tend to become intrigued by this type of communication. They pause and look and often independently move physically closer to see what is being written or drawn. We have found that some students attend and cooperate more with written communication than with verbal discussions, especially during or after challenging situations. And, for adults and students, it can be easier to remain calm and neutral when communicating in a written format.

Clinical Corner Contributors: Stephen Eastridge, Andrew Oltsch, Tara Armstrong
Recreation News and Events
By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator
Spring Recreation

Our Spring Bowling and Wednesday Recreation Program registration forms have been mailed and sign ups have started to come in. We currently have 65 students bowling and 50 students participating in our Wednesday Recreation.

12th Annual Special Olympics, May 11

The Parade of Athletes
Spring brings the Special Olympics back to Lexington High School.  This year the event will be on Wednesday, May 11.  Registration forms have been sent in the mail. The deadline for registration is March 30. The Best Buddy chapters are gearing up to provide buddies for each of our 200 athletes on the day of the event. All LABBB Programs from elementary through High School students will be participating.

This is the 12th annual Special Olympics for LABBB, please come and join over 400 volunteers, parents and staff to cheer on the athletes.  It is a fun day for all.  

Dance for Fitness Research Study

Research project, Dance for Fitness, aims to test the feasibility and effectiveness of a YMCA-based dance program for increasing physical fitness in girls with intellectual disabilities. The project is being conducted by researchers at UMass Boston and UMass Medical School.  We are currently trying to reach girls with intellectual disabilities to participate, and hope that you are willing to disseminate brochures to the families in your network.  The dance program will take place at the Waltham YMCA starting in April for 12 weeks. Dancers do not need to be a member of the YMCA and there is no cost to participate.

Seeking girls with intellectual disabilities between 13-21 years of age to participate in Dance for Fitness. 

For more information and to sign up for this study click here. Dance for Fitness Research Study Flyer

Miracle Baseball League  

Every athlete is assigned a volunteer "buddy" from the community (typically junior high and high school students) to assist them with the game, to whatever extent they need.  Our athletes have a range of abilities with some just needing a little help paying attention, to others needing physical help with all aspects of the game.  There are no outs, so everyone gets to experience the joy of scoring each inning.  We have an announcer which makes the game fun for the athletes and the spectators.  All the kids receive a jersey, baseball cap and a trophy.  As I previously mentioned, there is no cost to the families.  Please visit our website, 
 if you are interested in seeing videos and pictures from previous seasons, and to learn more about our organization.  If you would like to speak to me about the league, please either email me back or call me at 978-263-3043.

Recreation Resources links:

If you have new ideas to offer, please email them to [email protected]. We are always looking for new ideas and opportunities our students will enjoy!

Remember to follow @LABBBREC on Twitter

Author Study in LABBB Elementary/Burlington
By: Maria Cormier
Over the next 6 weeks, the children in the life skills elementary program in Burlington will be completing an author study. Each week will be dedicated to a different children's book author.  Our first week, we explored the works of Eric Carle.  The books we decided to investigate were The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider, The Grouchy Lady bug, Walter the Baker, and the Tiny Seed.
Eric Carle is a brilliant innovative designer and artist. He dramatizes his stories in a way that delights as well as instructs his young readers. Each day the children will explore one book by reading the story, using real life pictures and items representing the pictures, from a teacher made story box.  After we investigate the whole story we will do an accompanying fun activity.  At the end of each week, the children will then vote on which was their favorite book that week.
All activities and our results from their voting will then be put on display in the hallway for all to see.
The Hungary Catapillar: By Eric Carle

Exploring the items in our story box that go along with the story book

 Craft activities we created along with our story books.

#EdCampAccess 2016

The explosion of edcamps around the world has been an amazing shift in professional development. This year, #EdcampBoston was sold out in 1 hour. The ability to connect with other educators in a less formal environment is refreshing and promotes more interactions and connections. This is appealing to many educators. 

Four years ago, LABBB partnered with edcamp coordinators, Karen Janowski, Sean Sweeney and Beth Lloyd, to create #EdCampAccessA day devoted to educators helping struggling learners.
Since our first EdCampAccess in 2013, there have been three more EdCampAccess events created outside of Massachusetts. EdCampAccess events have been held in Morristown, New Jersey; Swartz Creek, Michigan, and Orlando Florida. 

EdCampAccess 2016 will be held on Saturday, April 30, in Burlington at the Marshall Simonds School.  

For more information and to sign up click here: #EdCampAccess 2016.

Indoor Bowling during A.P.E
By: A.P.E Staff
Kathy Eggers and Lori Doherty's students have been participating in bowling in the Lexington high school Fieldhouse this past month. The students have really enjoyed this activity. Students from Mike Allen's classroom have also assisted in setting the pins up and helping students out. This is a great activity to get all levels of students involved.


Parent Resources and Events
School Cancellation: All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.

Communication and Contacts Links
About Us
LABBB Collaborative Central Office
36 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730
(339) 222-5615

Labbb Collaborative | LABBB Collaborative | 36 Middlesex Turnpike | Bedford | MA | 01730