The LABBB Collaborative
  July 2016
Our 2016 High School Graduates
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In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri
Our Transition GPS Device

We wake up, eat breakfast, shower and get ready to go off to work. We have a meeting, so we get our coffee, jump into the car and plug the meeting location into our GPS device. As we hear the GPS say, "take a right," we know it is working. So we relax, turn on the radio and zone out. We put complete trust in this device that has calculated the "perfect route" and says we are going arrive at 9:45am sharp, 15 minutes before the meeting begins. 

Wait a minute, our destination time has changed! We start to panic. What's the problem? Why didn't our device know about this traffic jam? It said we were going to arrive at 9:45am, and now it says 10:10. We're going to be 10 minutes late! Of course, we put the blame on the GPS device, but did we ever check the traffic report? What speed were we supposed to be going to get there on time? 
We think that, somehow, GPS devices are supposed to have all the answers to the traffic problems on the streets and highways of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, our concept of "transition" can follow a very similar path. We believe that just understanding some of the main ideas behind transition, reading some articles, going to a few workshops about transition, and discussing all the elements that transition is supposed to have will get our students where they need to be when they are ready to graduate. 
We put too much trust in the concepts and models of transition; it is easy to be misled. The bottom line: transition is not one specific event, nor does it have a specific destination. It is a continuous process from age three to the end of life. Do not get hung up on age 22. This is only one part of transition. It continues well beyond that.  
This July, we have some of our pre-school students transitioning to our elementary programs; we have elementary students transitioning to our middle-school programs; we have middle-school students transitioning to our high-school programs; we have some of our high-school students transitioning to our Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Program (ICEI) and we have some students transitioning from one LABBB high-school, middle-school or elementary program to another. Finally, we have our graduates who will be transitioning to the adult world. 
We have approximately 60 new students joining the LABBB community between July and September. These new students are transitioning to LABBB from over 25 districts.
Transition is a natural and necessary part of our students' lives. We need to work with it, embrace it, and navigate the road through transition together as a team and as early as possible. 
Transition is also about continuous improvement. In LABBB, we believe program development should constantly evolve. The LABBB spectrum of programs gives students the option to change classrooms from year to year, and this is a benefit for our students. For example, we have students transitioning to our Belmont High School classroom from other LABBB high school programs because their visions have changed and this may be a good classroom for them now. Our Belmont High School program has a very unique model. Many students transition into this program as their visions evolve and the balance of academics and career development begins to shift. We developed this model for this reason, but it is not a model that is a good fit for all students. 
Students within the 18-22 age range are each going to have different visions. One transition model for students of ages 18-22 cannot possibly meet all the needs of every student; therefore, we have different options that vary slightly. If a student's vision changes and a LABBB classroom in another school is a better fit, we make the change available. We believe in allowing this flexibility in elementary and middle school, as well as high school. 
Transition is not traveled on one main road; yes, it will include some major roads, but we will be traveling down many side streets as well. A transition GPS device that will give us a perfect route and help us avoid all traffic, anxiety, and frustrations does not exist. There will be road blocks, failures, and different perceptions about what transition should look like. Moreover, we need to be prepared to change directions, chart new courses, and keep all options open. 

Transition works by constantly talking about our mission in LABBB. Transition works by communicating constantly as a team and identifying those skills that our students need to be as independent as possible. Where are they going to work? Where are they going to live? What skills do they have now to meet these goals? What skills do they need to develop to meet these goals? How are we measuring their level of independence?
Do you see your son or daughter living in a group home? What are the most important skills needed? Have you ever thought that actually getting along with his or her peers would be the most important skill needed? Skills such as cooking can be learned in school or while living in a group home, but it is very difficult to teach cooperation and respect for peers.  
Lastly, and most importantly, independence is earned through hard work. It is not a skill that just happens through a vision. It needs to be practiced every day. For example, travel training cannot be done by studying bus routes in the classroom or practicing counting money in isolation. Students need to develop skills such as confidence, community awareness, advocacy, safety, navigating through a crowd of people, and paying attention to when a bus stop is coming, and these things can only be practiced by doing them consistently. A student needs to physically take that first step onto the bus and learn by doing, and then the assistance given by the instructor should be phased out.
Transition is not an exact science. The key is to start as early as possible and identify what your son or daughter needs to know to live  and work independently. Continuing education can be part of that transition, but do not make it the only vision. There will be a time that your son or daughter will need to live on his or her own. Waiting until a student is 20 years old to talk about transition is just too late. We need to begin this process right now. 

2016 High School Graduation SlideShow: June 16, Musuem of National Heritage, Lexington, MA

Chenery and Ottoson Middle School Graduation SlideShows
by Sarah Bennett

Belmont: Chenery Middle School Students

Arlington: Ottoson Middle School Students

Smart Gardens in Science Class

By: Janet Paz
Our science class this spring has come to an end, and it was a very exciting season for everyone involved. The students were experiencing hands on education, from planting beans to raising ladybugs and everything in between. We started out by learning the four steps of plant growth cycles by placing bean seeds into clear plastic cups and germinating them with paper towels. We measured their growth rate from seed to plant and tracked this on a calendar. The students were then able to see the whole process. It was amazing to visibly see the process without having to plant them in dirt.

Next up was planting lettuce in our new "Smart Garden." This is a special system that is multi-layered. It consists of a lower glass bottom which contains guppies. On top of this is a level in which plants in pods are suspended. The roots hang down into the water. The guppies provide the nutrients for the plants to grow. This is a fascinating operation in which our students have been a part of every step. The lettuce matured and was able to be eaten. Our students provided mixed comments on the taste, including: good, tastes like leaves, and bad. The guppies in the tank had babies and all of us are checking how the fish have multiplied. Students add water and feed the guppies as needed.

Our next project is to learn the life cycle of the ladybug. We will study the growth from egg to larva, pupa, and adult. Our ladybug project is already at the active larva stage. We have had comments from some students such as Ailbhe saying that they are "sooo cute." Gillian saying, "they are cool," and Kristen saying, "they are good." We can't wait until the final ladybug stage. Once this happens, we will release them. Rose bushes are a good release point since they love aphids and will have plenty to dine on, and then the cycle of the ladybug will continue!


LABBB Burlington High School PALS Celebration

By: Carol Chaisson & Becky Niman
In June, the LABBB Burlington High School program celebrated our end of the year PALS activity. LABBB students and Burlington High School students got together and had a BBQ cookout.

There was great food, music, games, and dancing. The students spent time socializing, having fun, and reflecting on what a successful year it has been for everyone. We were lucky enough to have LABBB and Burlington High administrators cook for us, as well as many other staff members from both programs playing yard games and joining in on the was a great time had by all!

We are excited to continue our PALS program here in Burlington and look forward to collaborating with our PALS friends beginning again in the fall :)

Clinical Corner: How to Survive the Summer and Have Fun Too!
By: Lisa Gurdin
The summer should be a time of enjoying BBQs with friends, swimming, going to the beach, meeting new friends at camp, and going on relaxing vacations. So, why does it feel more stressful than the rest of the year?  
Summer is also a time of less structure and more downtime, as well as heat, humidity, and itchy bug bites. Add to this a transition to a new school, new classroom, or new program. For many of our students, these variables combine to create the perfect storm. This storm results in our students feeling bored, uncomfortable, and frustrated and without a way to communicate these feelings, they may engage in more challenging behaviors.

What do we do about this situation? We can muddle through July and August just waiting for September, or we can look at these months as an opportunity for our students to experience new things, an opportunity to teach our students more effective ways to cope with these feelings, an opportunity to show them that we understand what they are going through and that we will help them through it. This can be difficult, but we can do it.

Here are a few ideas for having that fun, relaxing summer we have all dreamed about since January.

Top 10 Ideas for a Fun, Relaxing Summer

10. Use sunscreen.
9. Use bug spray.
8. Have aloe and benadryl lotion ready for bug bites and sunburns.
7. Bring water and snacks wherever you go. Plan water/snack breaks.
6. Go on new adventures: walk in the woods, bike ride on a new path, eat outside on the patio.
5. Make new adventures short and take a lot of breaks.
4. Preview activities, especially new activities. Use social stories.
3. Establish new summer routines that you can write down as an agenda or visual schedule.
2. When your student shows signs of frustration or discomfort, give him/her a picture or ask yes/no questions about how the student may be feeling and work with him/her to find a remedy.
1. Create summer activities that your student would like to do during the downtimes. Consider your student's preferences and abilities. Examples: play in the sprinkler, do yard work, make summer crafts, make homemade popsicles, have a lemonade stand, etc.

The most important part of this plan is to embrace this time and enjoy these moments with your student.

Happy Summer!

LABBB Hosts North Suburban Employment Collaborative

By: Tom Brown
Recently, LABBB hosted the All Partners Meeting of the North Suburban Employment Collaborative.  LABBB's vocational and transition department recently became a member of this group, whose goal is to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.  This group is a partnership of provider organizations (school systems, collaboratives, and adult programs), and state agencies working together for the common good of improved employment outcomes, and is under the direction of the Department of Developmental Services.  Efforts are focused on all aspects of employment, including job development, career-oriented training, as well as addressing issues related to employment, such as job seeking and keeping skills, and transportation.
In addition to regular business, the group was addressed by State Representative Kenneth Gordon, who represents the Middlesex 21st District, which includes the towns of Burlington and Bedford.  Representative Gordon related information about transportation issues, as well as his desire to work on creating solutions for improving skills training for non-traditional learners. 

This meeting was held at Sebastian's Caf�, one of LABBB's culinary arts-focused work sites. The LABBB students presented baked items, as well as coffee and other beverages to the people present for the meeting.  LABBB thanks both Sebastian's Caf�, as well as Nordbloom Properties for their donation of both refreshments and space for this meeting.        
Recreation News and Events

By: Paula Rizzo, Integration and Recreation Coordinator

The LABBB Recreation had a great school year. We look forward to a relaxing July & August and the coming of the 2016/2017 school year. Look for the LABBB Recreation booklet to come to your mailbox in mid August with the activities for the coming school year. Look for some new activities to come, boxing is on its way to LABBB. Have a great summer.  

We also want to thank the town of Belmont for letting LABBB use their outdoor pools this year. This has been a great addition to our outdoor activities for the summer!

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

LABBB Bedford High School Meals on Wheels Appreciation at the Lexington Community Center
Throughout the school year, Bedford LABBB students assist with the preparation and packaging of meals that are delivered to homebound seniors. Below are pictures from the Meals on Wheels volunteer appreciation ice cream social held Wednesday June 15 at The Lexington Community Center. In the group photo below, seated left to right are Dining Assistants Summer Ledgister - Cummins, Steve Wood, Hayden Anderson, Dave Sainato, Taylor Proulx, Alex Goode, Jefferson Aweh - Kisob. 

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

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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