All Header Images © Daniel Voegelin  

Making a place for disabled young adults to live, learn – Boston Globe – 3LPlace

Boghosian_autismhouse13_LIFE  3lpLogo_new_Break

By Bella English

Deborah Flaschen, a former Wall Street investment banker, was 16 when she enrolled at Tufts University and 20 when she graduated magna cum laude. When her son D.J., who has autism, turned 17, she started looking around at his options, but they were alarmingly limited. “There was nothing in Boston, not a place that I would choose to put him in,” says Flaschen.

The dilemma is one echoed by families of students with autism who, along with other young people with developmental delays, age out of services provided by school districts when they turn 22. Many are ill-prepared to live independently or hold a job. It is a problem that is expected to mushroom along with the growing number of children diagnosed with the disorder.

Lacking an option she felt comfortable with, Flaschen decided to create her own. The result: 3LPlace Life College near Tufts in Somerville for young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Experts in the field say that the Life College is the only one of its kind in Massachusetts, combining a residential and day program under one roof for young adults. With its ability to offer more comprehensive life-skills training, the new project underscores both how significant the need is for the students and how little is generally available.

“Once they turn 22, there’s no obligation unless the state decides they are eligible for adult services and that could be anything from full residential to not much at all,” says Tamar Lewis of Belmont, whose 22-year-old son recently moved into 3LPlace. “This place is a lifesaver. Most are either day or residential, not both, and you have to search for each.”

Nationwide, only 14 percent of adults with such disabilities have jobs outside a care facility. In Massachusetts, developmentally disabled adults are less than half as likely as their peers to be employed at all — and those who are generally work at minimum wage jobs with no benefits.

The demand for programs such as 3LPlace is likely to increase. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it affects 1 in 68 people — a 30 percent increase from two years ago. It is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behavior. Some people have intellectual challenges, attention and motor coordination problems, as well as physical and emotional issues.

According to a 2012 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of those on the spectrum did not work or attend school in the two years after high school, 79 percent lived with their parents, 60 percent received some therapy and counseling, but nearly 40 percent got no services at all.


DJ Flaschen (cq) 24 (left), looks in a mirror with his art therapist Meghan Montgomery (cq) at 3LPlace Life College Residence in Somerville. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

‘I always wanted a whole life for my son. I don’t see that he and my daughter need different opportunities.’

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“Parents describe it as a black hole, this crater that opens up in front of us and we fall into it,” says June Peoples Mallon, communications and development director at 3LPlace Inc., who has a 15-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum. “The sad fact is that the outcome without some sort of intervention is pretty unrelentingly grim for these young adults and their aging parents, and statistics reflect that.”


Shaving and hand washing instructions in the bathroom at 3LPlace Life College Residence in Somerville. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

The few options, she says, include a Medicaid-funded program called “day habitation,” which provides care and some training in group settings, and some state programs that provide vocational help for higher-functioning students, mostly for low-paying, part-time jobs. Some people, she says, “just hang out at home with their parents.”

In Massachusetts, funding from the Department of Developmental Services goes first to the most severely disabled. Preference often goes to families who sent their children to residential schools, so that when they turn 22, they are more likely to get residential funding as an adult “edging out families who have made big sacrifices for years to care for their developmentally disabled children at home, and who are likely to find themselves continuing in the role of caregiver of their adult child,” says Mallon.

Planning for 3LPlace started in 2008, when Flaschen and her husband, David, looked for a placement for D.J., who was diagnosed with autism 20 years ago when he was 4. The couple met while working on their MBAs at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They also have a 26-year-old daughter, who works for TripAdvisor in Cambridge.

“I always wanted a whole life for my son,” says Flaschen, 59, who lives in Brookline. “I don’t see that he and my daughter need different opportunities.”

But when she began looking, she found nothing that helped the transition to adulthood and from home to the community. So, with three other mothers who also had kids on the spectrum, she began to plan and raise money from foundations, corporate donors, and private individuals.


3LPlace Life College Residence in Somerville. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Working with experts at Tufts, Lesley, Harvard, and Boston universities, they created a transition curriculum, and the Life College was approved by the state Department of Developmental Services.

Karen Levine is a psychologist and member of the state’s Autism Commission that issued a report in 2013 calling for more services for the estimated 75,000 people in Massachusetts with autism. She says that 3LPlace is the only one of its kind in the commonwealth.

“It is much more individualized and really values the whole person, their unique interests and talents, prioritizing their social and emotional well-being, and it incorporates the arts,” says Levine, an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Why the name 3LPlace? The program includes 3 L’s: Learning, which is the curriculum; Living, which is the Life College; and Linking, which is the group’s commitment to sharing what they’ve done with other cities across the country.

“We want to write the playbook on how to open something like this,” says Flaschen.

3LPlace opened in November and so far has two residents, including D.J., and others are being evaluated for placement. Members ages 22 to 32 can stay two to three years before transitioning to independent or at least semi-independent living.

The house can hold 10 young men and women, each with their own room. Two more rooms are set aside for overnight supervisors.


L-R Deborah Flaschen (cq) her autistic son DJ Flaschen (cq) 24, and his art therapist Meghan Montgomery (cq) talk together in his room at 3LPlace Life College Residence in Somerville. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

In 2009, the Flaschens bought the two-family house near Davis Square and gutted it. They chose the location for its access to public transportation, stores, and jobs. The result is a cheery but uncluttered place that offers a 3-to-1 student-staff ratio with a clinical director, social worker, various therapists, and teachers.

D.J.’s sunny room has a bunk bed and near the bathroom sink is a poster of a man with shaving cream on his face and the question: “D.J., is it time to shave?” There are step-by-step illustrated instructions for washing one’s hands, brushing and flossing teeth, and what to do after showering (“comb hair, put deodorant on”).

A daily schedule is posted for each resident, and they include various therapies, chores, and classes. D.J., for instance, is artistic and works closely with Meghan Montgomery, an expressive arts therapist.

The other tenant is Tamar Lewis’s son, who is also on the autism spectrum (she doesn’t want his name used). He was living at the Cardinal Cushing Center in Hanover but recently aged out. He is passionate about music, and 3LPlace is catering to that. The staff contacted the Somerville music club Johnny D’s, where her son will soon start to volunteer.


Labeled kitchen drawers at 3LPlace Life College Residence in Somerville. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

None of this comes cheap. Residential programs range from about $80,000 to $225,000, Mallon says. Tuition at 3LPlace is $132,500 a year. Those at 3LPlace will receive a mix of funding from private and public sources, depending on their eligibility. Flaschen is working on raising money for scholarships. For Lewis’s son, labeled a top priority by DDS because he has long been a residential client who cannot live at home, the state is paying most of his cost.

What will be next for D.J., when he’s finished at Life College? His mother sees him in an apartment in the neighborhood with three bedrooms: one for him, one for a friend, and one for a supervisor, in a kind of family setting instead of an institution. Maybe, she muses, he’ll work in an art studio.

But more important, Flaschen stresses, is what D.J. himself envisions, with Life College helping him figure out how to get there. “Rather than look at our young adults as people limited by their challenges, we look at them as people with untapped potential, and ask what we can do to support them,” she says.

Bella English can be reached at



Phone: 617-764-3280

U.S. Mail:
50 Whitman Street
Somerville, MA 02144-1975


Globe Letter to the Editor – Feb. 9, 2015

Disabled need support as they work to find, and keep, a job

I AM writing in response to the article “A next step” (SaturdayLife, Jan. 31), about the challenges faced by young adults aging out of school-provided services. As an employment attorney and director of a legal aid clinic for Massachusetts workers, I often hear from people with developmental disabilities or their families about their difficulties finding and keeping a job.

Legal requirements for employers differ markedly from those of schools. So, unsurprisingly, young adults with disabilities who are moving into the labor force do not understand which legal protections they have and do not have at work. The result of these misunderstandings is often job loss.

There is often confusion, for example, about if, how, or when to ask for an accommodation. And such a dialogue with an employer requires a type of self-advocacy that can be especially daunting for many with developmental disabilities.

Sometimes it takes only a little bit of guidance and accurate information to keep someone employed; other situations are more complicated. Either way, I foresee a growing need to provide such assistance to children diagnosed with disabilities as they transition to independent living.

Lisa J. Bernt
Fair Employment Project
Jamaica Plain


Mayor Walsh State of the City Speech 2015 – Education and Special Education Issues

My plan for Boston’s future begins in our schools—all of our schools. We’ve talked about fixing our schools for decades. Now, we’re taking action.

2030 may seem a long way off. But consider this: the little girl who signed up for pre-school this week will be a high school graduate in 2030. Her life will tell a story of Boston’s 21st century. So a Boston that is thriving, healthy, and innovative

in its fifth century depends greatly on what we do for her right now.

Yes, we have some progress to celebrate—maybe more than other big cities. But families with school-age kids aren’t celebrating. A lot of the time they see a great school—quite literally—as a prize in a lottery.

Think about that. In the city that established public education; a city with the greatest universities in the world; access to an excellent public school is seen as a lucky break. Meanwhile, more than 30% of our high school students don’t graduate in 5 years. That is just not acceptable.

Next month, I will get the names of the final candidates for the next superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. Whomever is selected for this job, my message and orders will be clear: I am not satisfied. The Boston Public Schools can do much better for our kids. We have to do better. We will do better.

My administration is moving forward.

We are working with the BTU to ratify a plan to add 40 minutes of quality learning time–every day, for every student through 8th grade.

We are expanding high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten, with the goal of reaching every 4-year-old in the city.

We are re-designing our high schools around pathways to college and career. We tripled the size of the Success Boston college completion program. And tonight I’m excited to announce a new partnership with the global software company SAP to create a high-tech career pipeline from Charlestown High School to Bunker Hill Community College.

We’ve revamped the Boston School Committee: by appointing an early learning specialist and a special ed advocate; and two members who are parents of kids in our Boston Public Schools.

And there’s still more to come. When I talk about building great schools—I mean it literally. Too many of Boston’s aging schools don’t meet the standards of 21st-century learning—or come anywhere close. So we are going to establish the city’s first permanent school building program in many decades. We’re drafting a 10-year Facilities Plan, to identify the needs in every neighborhood. And we’re creating a Boston School Building Authority, to tap the funding sources our city has failed to secure in the past.

We began last year with a new STEM Academy for Roxbury. Our next projects will be Fenway’s Boston Arts Academy and Quincy Upper School in Chinatown. I want to thank the parent councils at these schools. After enduring years of false starts, their dedication will pay off now, and for generations to come.

Finally, we know the opportunity gap begins outside the classroom. So our new Office of Financial Empowerment will launch a free child savings account program. Research shows that it’s a building-block of opportunity.

To recap: that’s a strong start; a full day’s school; real pathways to college and career; a permanent building program; and a commitment to fighting poverty. And I’m just getting started. We will not be satisfied with anything short of success: for every child in every family, at every school in every community in our city.


2015 Boston Public Schools Budget – An 11-Minute Guide


The 2015 Boston Public Schools Budget – An 11-Minute Guide

A guide to the Boston Public Schools (BPS) budget for BPS parents by BPS parents.

Part 1 – 2015 Budget Timeline at Schools, the City, and State – 00:42
Part 2 – Weighted Student Funding – 03:12
Part 3 – City and State Funding Problems – 06:27

The pdf version may the found here:  Large File 6Meg
BPS_Budget_2015-Small File – Lower Quality


Boston SpedPac Mourns the Loss of Mayor Thomas M. Menino

The Boston Special Education Advisory Council is deeply saddened by the passing of Mayor Thomas M. Menino.  We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Angela, his daughter Susan, his son Thomas Jr., his six grandchildren, and his entire family.  The grief we all feel is equal to the gratitude we have to Mayor Menino’s family for sharing him with us and all of Boston for over 20 years.

Mayor Menino loved the City and he worked tirelessly every day to help the people of his beloved Boston.  In particular, his love for the children of Boston was reflected in his constant presence in our schools, and personal encouragement to all students to do their best and reach for the stars.

A passionate advocate for children with disabilities and for inclusion, he believed that every child deserves a quality education and that children learn best when they are included with and supported by their peers.  There are countless examples of his relentless advocacy for children with special needs, including the opening of an accessible playground outside of Spaulding Hospital where he was a patient.  At a time when many would focus on their own recovery he instead recognized an opportunity and made it happen.

We will miss you dearly Mayor Menino, rest in peace, and know that we and the children of Boston are eternally grateful for all of your amazing accomplishments and everlasting support.

Boston SpedPac

PDF Version

Last Day TM A













Massport: Helping autistic kids earn their wings – Boston Globe – Opt. Ed – 4/14/14

Children with autism are frequently overwhelmed by new surroundings — loud noises, large crowds, and being touched by strangers can all cause panic. This can make traveling through airports a huge challenge.

Massport is trying to help. The agency this month ran its seventh “Wings for Autism” (See Below) event at Logan Airport, bringing together volunteers from three airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, and other vendors to offer about 160 kids with autism and their families the chance at a trial run going through airport security and boarding a flight. The daylong seminar is free and runs twice a year, in November and April. At other times, families with upcoming trips can schedule practice runs with Logan customer service staff or through the agency’s partner, the advocacy group Charles River Center

The Massport program has quickly become a national model: Six other airports have already  followed suit, and as many as 13 others are considering similar efforts. Massport launched the initiative after hearing of the experience of Susie Littlejohn and her son, Henry, who is autistic. In 2010, the Littlejohns were forced to call off a trip to Disney World after a glass elevator at Logan caused Henry to melt down. At this spring’s event, Henry, now 9, walked right on the plane and sat down. Says Susie Littlejohn, “The chance to practice has made all the difference.”


Wings for Autism

 The Wings for Autism program is designed specifically for families with autistic children to help ease the stress of flying.

To launch this unique program Massport teamed up with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), JetBlue and the Charles River Center (an autism support center).
A Different Kind of Dress Rehearsal With this unique concept in mind, Massport hosted a “dress rehearsal” open house day to give these families the opportunity to experience travel through Boston Logan before their actual trip.

Since 2011, Boston Logan held four Wings for Autism events and more than 1000 people attended. Families were able to familiarize themselves with the airport and travel procedures and kids had a chance to practice entering the airport, getting boarding passes at the ticket counter, checking bags, being screened at the TSA security checkpoint, and boarding the aircraft.

Increasing Awareness Not only is this a benefit to the families who participate, but it also provides a valuable training opportunity for airport, airline and TSA personnel to learn how to accommodate children with special needs and increase awareness within the airport community so that children with autism – and their families – can have a positive travel experience.
For additional information please e-mail
How To Get Involved If your family is interested in participating in the next Wings for Autism event at Boston Logan, please contact the Charles River Center.*
*Note: You do not have to be affiliated with the Charles River Center to participate and there is no cost for this program.


Transition Services – Gen. Meeting March-27-2014

Here is the video from our 3-27-14 Workshop on Transition Services

Transition Services Workshop for Parents of Students with Disabilities
Sponsored by Boston SpedPac in partnership with the Boston Public Schools
Guest Presenters – Pamela Coveney, Attorney – Disability Law Center
Erica Sandlin, Transition Specialist – BPS
Meg Stone, Director – IMPACT: Ability
Glenn Gabbard, ICE Coordinator – Executive Office of Education (MA)
Johanne Pino – MAC

Workshop Transition Services – for Education, Work and Independent Living
Pamela will provide an overview of  the law and the basics of Transition Services for special needs children ages 14-22.

Transition Presentations:
Erica Sandlin – BPS Transition Specialist – Transitions Services Within BPS
Meg Stone – IMPACT: Ability – Empowering people with disabilities through safety & self-advocacy trainings – Live Safety Demonstration
Glenn Gabbard – ICE Coordinator – Executive Office of Education (MA)
The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) Program enables students with disabilities to participate in the college experience while still in high school.
Optional Program – Think College
Johanne Pino – Massachusetts Advocates for Children – MAC
Transition Workshops @ Dorchester Boys & Girls Club – Project B.I.N.D.

General Meeting – 3/27/14
Transition Services
Pamela Coveney, Attorney
Disability Law Center

Autism Numbers Increasing & MA Autism Insurance Changes

Globe article and link after insurance info.

Autism Insurance For Your Child
You must apply by March 31, 2014 now,
More options to be announced for fall enrollments

By signing up, your child would be enrolled in a private insurance plan that is
required to provide these services for people with autism. You would have to pay a
monthly premium, but MassHealth would reimburse you for all or part of the
premium each month, depending on the plan you choose. Your child would not lose
his or her MassHealth or CommonHealth coverage.

The online application process is detailed and can be complicated. The Connector
has people available to help you apply. They are known as “Navigators” or Certified
Application Counselors (CACs). There is no charge for their assistance. To get
help, call one of the following numbers:
The Massachusetts Connector: (877) MA-ENROLL
The Boston Public Health Commission:
Beth Baker at (617)534-2294;

The Autism Insurance Resource Center: See phone number below. If you are
receiving this by email, click on this link to read further about this opportunity for
your child.

For more information, assistance or general information about the Autism Insurance Law
Contact the Autism Insurance Resource Center by:
Phone(774) 455-4056 or (800) 642-0249

Number of children diagnosed with autism soars
CDC data show 30 percent jump over two years
By Deborah Kotz  | BOSTON GLOBE STAFF   MARCH 28, 2014

Autism rates in children have continued their steady rise, surging 30 percent in two years, according to the latest data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While 1 in 88 children were estimated to have autism in 2008, public health officials now estimate that 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum.

Those statistics are based on the 2010 medical records of 8-year-olds living in 11 communities throughout the United States that are part of the CDC’s autism surveillance network. When the CDC started its surveillance of these communities back in 2000, the incidence of autism was 1 in 150 children.

CDC officials couldn’t offer specific reasons for the rise beyond increased awareness of the condition among doctors, teachers, and parents. “It may be that we’re getting better at identifying autism,” said Coleen Boyle, director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, during a press briefing. “We do feel like some of this has to do with how children are identified, diagnosed, and served in their communities.”

Autism advocacy groups noted that the increasing prevalence underscores the need for research funding to identify the causes of autism. “To be perfectly frank, it’s an incomplete picture right now,” said Robert Ring, chief science officer at Autism Speaks, a research advocacy organization in New York City. “All the pieces of the puzzle aren’t in place.”

Certain trends have remained constant during the decade that the CDC has been collecting data. Autism remains five times more common in boys — affecting 1 in 42 compared with 1 in 189 girls — and white children are more likely to be diagnosed than black or Hispanic children, though the prevalence in those minority groups has risen at a faster rate than for whites.

About half of children with autism in 2010 had average or above-average intelligence, compared with a third in 2002.

“We now recognize that autism is a spectrum,” said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the CDC’s developmental disabilities branch. “Our understanding has evolved to the point that we understand that there are children with higher IQs who may not have been receiving services in the past.”

The CDC provided grants to 11 states across the country — including Arizona, Arkansas, Maryland, and Wisconsin — based on their ability to survey medical and school records for pediatric autism diagnoses. Massachusetts is not one of the sites providing data to the federal government.

Autism rates varied widely among the 11 areas under CDC surveillance. In Alabama, only 1 in 175 children had autism in 2010 compared with 1 in 45 children in New Jersey.

That difference could reflect varying access to expensive autism assessments and therapies among states. New Jersey mandated in 2010 that insurance companies must cover $36,000 per year in behavioral programs and other autism therapies for any person under age 21 who is diagnosed with the disorder. Alabama didn’t pass a coverage mandate until 2012. A Massachusetts coverage law took effect in 2011, and more than 30 other states instituted such laws as well.

Some children with behavioral or intellectual disabilities other than autism may receive the diagnosis from their doctors in order to qualify them for coverage for treatments that could benefit them too, said Dr. Sarah Spence, codirector of Boston Children Hospital’s Autism Spectrum Center. “Kids may get labeled with autism disorder because that’s the best way for them to get services, but I don’t think this overdiagnosis is a huge piece of the rising incidence.”

More likely, doctors have become more attuned to early signs of autism in toddlers and preschoolers, such as failure to make eye contact, smile, or express emotional attachments to their caregivers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that health care providers conduct autism screening tests at every well-child visit.

“Doctors are getting better at doing these screenings,” Spence said, “to the point where every once in a while, I can happily tell parents that their child’s language delay isn’t autism.”

Despite this increased awareness, the average age at which a child is diagnosed hasn’t budged much; most children aren’t diagnosed until after 4 years of age, according to the CDC, two years after signs of the disorder usually start to appear.

“Research suggests that the earlier we intervene with treatment, the greater the probability that children will realize their full potential,” Ring said.

In an effort to get children diagnosed earlier, the US Department of Health and Human Services revealed an educational campaign on Thursday to make parents, teachers, and health care providers even more aware of early autism signs. Parents are advised to look for certain expected milestones in their child’s development, such as developing a fear of strangers, responding to other people’s emotions, and looking in the mirror by age 6 to 9 months.

One problem, however, that still remains unaddressed is the lack of behavioral specialists to assess and treat the growing population of children displaying signs of autism.

“The wait lists in Boston for assessment and treatment are too long,” Spence said, “and that’s unacceptable because every month counts when it comes to starting therapy.”



Basic Rights Workshop 2-27-14 – Pamela Coveney

Here is the video from our 2-27-14 Workshop on  Basic Rights

Watch on our YouTube Channel

2-27-14 Basic Rights Flyer

Presentation – Basic Rights
This workshop provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities under:

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Massachusetts Special Education Law
  • No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

It is designed to help parents learn how to be effective partners with their child’s school to decide the child’s eligibility for special education, and to plan, make decisions and monitor their child’s progress in school.

General Meeting – 2/27/14
Basic Rights
Pamela Coveney, Attorney
Disability Law Center

Basic Rights Presentation-DLC
Basic Right Appendix – DLC
Disability Law Center Brochure


Savin Hill Challenger Little League Baseball

Savin Hill Little League
Challenger Division                                                   

Register Now!



“Bringing our community together one swing at a time”

Players: Boys and Girls ages 6-14 years throughout Boston and surrounding communities
Volunteers:  Ages 11 and up
Cost: FREE
For more details or to register on-line please visit:
Registration at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester on Sunday, March 2nd from 10:00 – 2:00

The Challenger Division of Little League is a program for developmentally and physically challenged youth, helping them to enjoy the full benefits of Little League participation in a safe athletic environment structured to their abilities.



Easter Seals Workshops Winter/Spring 2014

Register today and join AT professionals as they teach participants the benefits and uses of the latest assistive technology tools.

Registration Information for Easter Seals AT Workshops

Easter Seals Workshops Winter / Spring 2014

Asperger’s Independence Apps
February 19, 2014 5:30-7:30pm
Easter Seals Boston Office
Fee: $80

This presentation will focus on an array of Apps that are available to assist individuals with Asperger’s to better function in their work and social lives. Subjects include organization and time management (transitions), communication and social supports. It is designed for parents, educators, and employers, and for individuals with Asperger’s themselves. Learning objectives

·         Identify 2 categories of potentially useful Apps for individuals with Asperger’s.
·         List at least 2 Apps from each category List 3 features of the Sōsh App.

Presenter: Katrina Caracol-Parker, BS.
Getting off the Ground with Proloquo2Go
Tuesday February 25, 2014  9:30am to 12:30pm
Easter Seals Boston Office
Fee: $80

This three hour hands-on workshop is designed to help you get up and running with Proloquo2Go, the popular augmentative communication app. We will cover basic skills such as choosing vocabulary options, adapting settings, creation and customization of pages, linking pages and backing up and restoring your customized vocabulary. An overview of the scanning features will be included. We will also discuss strategies for success to help your user get the most out of their AAC system.

Some basic knowledge of the iPad is helpful. Please be sure your device has the most recent operating system, and that you have the most recent version of Proloquo2Go. Learning objectives

  •          Participants will understand and use at least three different editing features of Proloquo2Go
  •          Participants will list three different ways to personalize communication displays with
  •          Participants will list three different methods for backing up and sharing Proloquo2Go files

Presenter: Kristi Peak-Oliveira, MS, CCC, Speech Language Pathologist/AAC Specialist.
Accessibility and Apple i-Devices
March 11, 2014  5:30- 8:30 PM
Easter Seals Boston Office
Fee: $80

This hands-on workshop will focus on meeting the needs of diverse users by accessing the built-in accessibility options in iOS devices such as the iPad, iPad mini, iPod Touch, and iPhone.  Features will include text to speech reading of on-screen content, strategies for using voice-activated features, customizing the user experience with planning placement of resources, and utilizing the new switch access features of iOS 7.  This workshop will also consider use of additional tools and strategies, such as cases, mounting, and styluses, to improve accessibility for users.  This workshop will not be able to cover specific app recommendations, but resources for app review organizations will be shared.  Bring your own i-device for a hands-on experience.

Learning objectives

  • identify accessibility limitations of the default configuration for  iOS devices for individuals with diverse abilities
  • describe features and potential applications of built in accessibility options for iOS devices such as voiceover, speak selection, voice command, guided access, assistive touch, and switch access
  • understand potential tools and strategies that can be utilized to enhance access for users with diverse abilities

Presenter: Kevin Berner, MS OTR/L, ATP
AAC Language & Conversations: Make It Fun And Interactive!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 April April 26, 2014    9:00am – 3:00pm
Merrimack College
Fee:  early bird (before February 21) $165 or $189 after February 21

How often do you observe AAC users who perform beautifully in therapy, only to sit passively in classrooms and social situations?  This quick-paced, interactive session will support students in using core vocabulary for authentic purposes, with peers, and using repetition with variation.  Strategies include:  RPM-GO (rehearse, practice, model – GO), combining core vocabulary and literacy, and scaffolding communication with engaging apps. Social Scripts ensure that augmented communicators – even those with limited access skills – can achieve interactions that are frequent, motivating, self-initiated, varied, ongoing, with multiple turns, and with a range of partners, including peers. Strategies will be provided for creating, programming, and teaching the use of social scripts to support accessing skills as well as conversation.  Participants will engage in multiple ‘try-it’ activities to help learning generalize, just as we hope to make core vocabulary generalize for people who use AAC!  Participants will receive a CD with sample activities and forms.

Learning Outcomes:

1)      Summarize the RPM-GO approach (Rehearse, Practice, Model – GO)

2)     Review the components of a social script and work as a team to create a social script for a student who is a beginning communicator

3)     Describe apps and ways to use apps interactively to support target strategies (combining language and literacy, interactive communication games)

Presented by Dr. Caroline Musselwhite
ASHA CEUs are available at no additional charge for the April 26 workshop only


1-23-14 General Meeting iPAD: A Tool, Not Just A Toy!

Topics for the  General Meeting   –   January 23, 2014

2013 SpedPac Champion Award – John Connolly
Thank You – Mary Tamer

At the January general meeting, the entire SpedPac community recognized City Councilor John Connolly and School Committee member Mary Tamer for their work on behalf of students with disabilities in BPS.  John and Mary both left their respective positions this January, and we wanted to publicly express our sincere thanks to each of them for their incredible leadership and advocacy for all of our children.

DSC_0196_fpmSpedPac was proud to present City Councilor John Connolly with our Champion of the Year award.  During his time on the City Council and as the Chair of the Education Committee, John consistently gave SpedPac representatives a seat at the table and a direct voice at all of the City Council Education hearings he chaired.  John took the time to educate himself on special education issues, to meet with individual families to assist them with IEP and program issues in BPS, and he established and maintained a solid working relationship with SpedPac and the Special Education Department in BPS.  John was an advocate for inclusion, transition, ABA services, and appropriations for special education.  John and his staff also worked tirelessly throughout his years on the City Council to help countless families of children with special needs.  John and his staff  fielded calls from parents of children with disabilities in need of support, and facilitated communications between families and BPS to obtain resolution for each family’s issues.  John and his staff also worked to connect parents to one another for on-going network support throughout the special education community.  John made it a priority of his to have someone from his staff attend every SpedPac meeting to ensure that he was aware of any changes or issues that needed his support.  SpedPac and its members are grateful for John’s constant direct work and on-going support for special education issues throughout his tenure on the City Council.  We will miss having him on the City Council and as the Education Chair but we also know that he will continue to support all of Boston’s children.

DSC_0286_fpmSpedPac also thanked School Committee Member Mary Tamer for all of her work on behalf of students with disabilities in BPS during her tenure on the School Committee.  Mary was an incredible advocate for families of children with special needs.  Mary was vigilant in asking questions about BPS and SC decisions and the impact of those decisions on students with disabilities. She worked directly with SpedPac, and backed our requests for improvements and equity for students with disabilities in accessing quality programs and opportunities in BPS.  Mary served as a member of the External Advisory Committee and Co-Chaired the Inclusion task force.  She made special education her priority as a school committee member, and she served as a voice for all families of children with special needs in BPS.  We are grateful to Mary for all that she has done to improve outcomes and programming for our children.

Presentation – The iPad: A Tool, Not Just a Toy!
Guest Presenter – Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP,  SpeechTechie
Sean will demonstrate a variety of apps useful in the home with students with language, social learning, and executive function challenges.  Apps useful for language building and organization, visualizing and emphasizing social situations and scripts, and support of planning and organization skills will be covered, along with resources for learning more on your own!

BPS Update – Superintendent John McDonough


B-SET Transition Workshop – Dot. Boys & Girls Club – Monthly Nov/2013 – June/2014 6:30-8:30pm

Learn How to Prepare Youth with Disabilities to Succeed as Adults


The Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester
& Boston Special Education Transition Project
B-SET for Career, College and Community Living
Monthly Workshop Series

Learn About:

  • What services youth with disabilities starting at age 14 need from school (BPS or charters) to transition to life after high school.
  • What you can do to help youth advocate for themselves.
  • Ways to help ensure youth are ready to work, go to college, or live independently!

Learn how youth can use special education to create success!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, December 9, 2013, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, January 13, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, February 10, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, March 10, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, April 14, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, May 12, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm
Monday, June 9, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm

Food will be provided
If you need an interpreter please contact
Johanne 617-357-8431 X234


City Council At-Large Meet & Greet


We would like to thank all of the candidates running for Boston City Council At-Large  who attended our Meet & Greet on Oct. 24, 2013.  See video below

Special mention to Marty Keogh, who had to miss our meeting because his wife gave birth to a baby girl on the same day(Congratulations!).  We look forward to working with these leaders to address the concerns of the 11,000 special needs children in Boston.

Extra:  Read the Mayoral SpedPac Questionnaire

October 2013 Videos – This is the playlist version.
Click on PLAYLIST to see all of the videos from the Oct . Meeting

ADVOCATE Workshop Video 1
At-Large Candidates Video 4
At-Large Q & A Video 5

Watch on our YouTube Channel


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General Meeting
Oct. 24, 2013
At-Large Meet & Greet
Stephen Murphy
Michelle Wu
Michael Flaherty
Ayanna Pressley
Jeffrey Ross
Jack Kelly III
Annissa Essaibi George


New Handicapped Accessible Playground – Charlestown – Spaulding Rehabilitation Center

Dear Parents/Guardians,

On Monday, November 4th at 11am, there will be an opening and dedication for a new handicapped accessible playground in Charlestown next to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center.

All parents and children with special needs are invited to attend to see this new playground that will be available to all children and accessible to children with special needs.

We hope to see you there.


New BSP Contact Info

September 2013
Boston Spedpac has been busy over the summer.  We have a new email list, email address and phone number for voice mail.  Our new email address and phone number will allow us to provide better and more timely communications.  Also, it will be easier for us to manage.

We will be using MailChimp to send out our emails.  This service will allow people to sign up or unsubscribe automatically.  Our emails will look better and should be easier to read from mobile devices.

I hope these changes look good and function better for you all.
John St. Amand


BSP September 26, 2013 General Meeting

Here is the video from our Sept. 2013 GM.

Starting your year off right  PDF in English and Spanish

“Start Your Year Off Right” Workshop for Parents of Students with Disabilities Sponsored by Boston SpedPac in partnership with the Boston Public Schools Guest Presenter – Eileen Nash, Deputy Superintendent of Individualized Learning – BPS

PresentationStart your year off right Carolyn will go over the basics of how to start your child’s year off pre-pared and ready.

New SpedPac Technology Update John will give a demonstration of the SpedPac website.

A Parent’s Story – SpedPac Board Members Each month, we will introduce members the SpedPac Board.  We will tell our stories and how we are helping to make BPS better for all children with Special Needs. Carolyn and John will Tell Their Stories

SpEd Update – Eileen Nash – BPS Eileen will provide an overview of Special Education issues within BPS.


Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino and Sec. of Education Malone visit Harbor Pilot School

BOSTON – Monday, September 16, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino today joined Secretary of Education Matthew Malone to visit Dorchester’s Harbor Pilot School, which serves students in grades 6-10 using a full-inclusion model that allows students with disabilities to learn side-by-side with their typically developing peers.

“Harbor’s inclusion model demonstrates how we are closing the achievement gap and giving even our most vulnerable children the opportunity to succeed,” said Governor Patrick. “Education is Massachusetts’ calling card around the world and central to our competitiveness in the global economy. We invest in our students because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future.”

“What makes our schools so strong is that we accept all kids, no matter their background,” said Mayor Menino. “I’m proud the Governor came to see this example of how we can serve all students in a classroom that celebrates diversity.”

Last year, Harbor School expanded to serve students in 9th grade and this year expanded to 10th grade. An 11th and 12th grade will be added in the next two years. The Boston School Committee will soon consider a proposal to create the city’s first inclusive K-12 pathway, linking the Harbor School with the successful Henderson K-5 Inclusion school, also located in Dorchester.

“As someone who personally struggled with a learning disability from a young age, I see enormous value in the full inclusion model,” said Secretary Malone. “Harbor School students will leave here better prepared for the world because of the relationships they have built with peers of all levels of ability.”

“The proposal to create the city’s first K-12 Inclusive pathway is the direct result of a great partnership with our families,” said Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent John P. McDonough. “For our students to succeed we must work in conjunction with their families and caregivers. Together we can all be proud of what is being created here.”

In 2010, Harbor School was designated as a level 4, turnaround school. The designation gave the school the ability to use new tools made available by “An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap,” signed by Governor Patrick in 2010. Those tools include the flexibility to change staffing and work conditions to better suit the needs of the school and its students. Since that time, Harbor School has met most of its goals in narrowing achievement gaps among most populations.


Boston Abilities Expo – September 20-22, 2013 Boston Convention Center

Abilities Expo—The Nation’s Leading Expo for People with Disabilities—to feature Push Girl’s Star Auti Angel, Paralympian Jennifer French along with an Extensive Line Up of New Products, Services and Technology at The BCEC, September 20-22

Boston, MA ~ Thousands of people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals are expected to attend Abilities Expo Boston on September 20-22, 2013 at The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (Hall C). Admission is free and show hours will be Friday 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.

Abilities Expo, Boston, is the newest in a series of Abilities Expos that take place around the country and have been doing so since 1979. Abilities Expo Boston features an impressive line-up of exhibits, celebrities, workshops, events and activities to appeal to people of all ages with the full spectrum of disabilities—including physical, learning, developmental and sensory disabilities.

“It’s not just that we provide a forum that showcases essential  technology to bridge the gap between ability and disability,” said David Korse,  president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “The Expo is always new and exciting with  a host of all-inclusive, adaptive activities.”

ASL interpreters, complimentary loaner scooters, wheelchair repair and a power chair charging station will also be available during show hours.

“The Expo provides the community of  people with disabilities access to life-enhancing products, education,  resources and fun,” said Korse. “We can’t wait help people explore the possibilities and open their  eyes to all the things they can do.”



Online pre-registration is now closed. FREE registration will be onsite at Abilities Expo this Friday through Sunday.

Thank you very much for your interest in the Boston Abilities Expo on September 20-22, 2013. Our event team is already onsite at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hall C preparing to make this the best Abilities Expo yet.

Please come directly to the show this Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday where you can register for free and come right on in.

It’s going to be a great event! We look forward to meeting you in person!

If you have any questions, please call David Korse at (310) 405-1317.


Boston Community Days Oct 5, Oct 19, & Nov 2 2013


Save the Date         

Engine 3

Please RSVP by 9/27 to Betsy at 781-762-4001 Ext. 304

We are pleased to announce a Community Day in BACK BAY/SOUTH BOSTON at the Fire House located at 618 Harrison Ave on Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 10:00AM-12:00PM.

Engine 5

Please RSVP by 10/11 to Betsy at 781-762-4001 Ext. 304

We are pleased to announce a Community Day in EAST BOSTON at the Fire House located at 360 Saratoga St. on Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 10:00AM-12:00PM.

SATURDAY, NOV. 2, 2013
Engine 2

Please RSVP by 10/25 to Betsy at 781-762-4001 Ext. 304

We are pleased to announce a Community Day in SOUTH BOSTON at the Fire House located at 700 East Fourth St. on Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 10:00AM-12:00PM.

 This Community Day is an Open House for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other related developmental disabilities and their families/caregivers.

Please join us as your local First Responders will be on hand to answer questions on how to best prepare for emergency situations involving your loved one diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other related developmental disabilities.

This event is being sponsored by
The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc.

This event is a collaborative effort between:
the ALEC Program of The Arc of South Norfolk
Boston City Council
Boston Police Department
Boston Fire Department,
Boston EMS
Till, Inc.



Question & Answer article on guardianship

A few weeks ago on this list serve there were some questions posted about guardianship.  Here is a link to the current newsletter of the Massachusetts Guardianship Association which includes a Question & Answer article on guardianship on page 9.  I think many may find it a helpful a resource.

Posted by Kathy Ryan on the Mass Family Voices listserv