Weekly Update: October 6, 2023

Weekly Update

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After learning about the job application process, Ms. Cain’s Capstone

students applied for classroom jobs!

Information From Cotting School


Wednesday, October 11, 2023


  • 6:00- 6:20: Welcome in the auditorium
  • 6:20-7:00: Teacher and therapy team presentations in your student’s classroom
  • 7:00-7:45: Community Fair in the gym

The Community Fair!


  • Specialists
  • Therapy teams
  • Classroom teachers
  • Health Services
  • Behavioral Health team

What to do?

  • Say hello to a specialist.
  • Visit a program level your student may attend in the future.
  • Mingle with the therapy teams.
  • Thank a member of Health Services and the Behavioral Health team.
  • Join us in appreciating the diverse community of educators who collaborate daily to support the growth of our students!
Free Adaptive Tricycle and Pediatric Stroller

The family of Cotting alumnus Peter Sclafani would like to donate either or both of these items to anyone who could put them to good use:


  • Adaptive Tricycle
  • Convaid pediatric stoller Size 14″ wide . Color is an Ocean Blue and comes with a canopy for sun protection.


If you are interested and would like more information, or to see the items in person, please contact Marisa Sclafani at marisasimo@aol.com.

Join Us at Our Last Fall Listening Session!

Preparing students for rich, independent lives has long been our mission. Most recently, supporting transition and success has been one of our defined strategic initiatives. For the last several years, with focused effort, we have updated a school-wide transition curriculum, developed better communication tools for students and families to describe transitions within our program levels, reorganized our Vocational Department and piloted two new parent transition curricula. These initiatives have augmented the work we have always done. And we will never be done working on our transition programming.


We are at an exciting juncture, and we need your help. We are in the early planning stages for a Transition Institute at Cotting School. We envision this center serving both current students and families as well as young alumni. As we build our plans and prepare to update our strategic initiatives, we invite you to join us for some listening/brainstorming sessions. WE will listen as YOU brainstorm the possibilities for this new Transition Institute.


Please join President Bridget Irish, Trustee Tim Connelly and other members of the Board and Senior Administrative Team for hors d’oeuvres, beverages and lots of creative thinking at our last in-person transition listening session of the season!

  • October 17, 2023 from 5-7 p.m. in the Campus Center

We look forward to seeing you, sharing our early thoughts and hearing your great ideas!

Please RSVP to Christine Dagostino at cdagostino@cotting.org so that we can plan to have adequate food and materials. Questions? Feel free to call us!

2023 Cotting School PTO Fall Family BBQ & Cornhole Tournament


Tickets are $10 per person (children five and under are free).

Please forward any family needs or financial assistance requests to Dr. Pamela Varrin at pvarrin@cotting.org or 781.862.7323.

When: Sunday, October 15, 2023, 12-3 p.m.

Where: Cotting School Field

453 Concord Avenue

Lexington, MA 02421


We are still in need of raffle donations.

Questions or donations? Please contact Sheryl at sherylannqueen@yahoo.com or 781.389.8494.

Can’t Attend the PTO Fall Family BBQ?

Don’t miss out on our awesome raffles!

Click here to purchase raffle tickets!

Our Next Info Session Is On Friday, Oct. 20

Know someone who would like to learn more about sending their student to Cotting School? We’ll be hosting information sessions throughout the year! Please feel free to share this information with them.

Date: Friday, October 20, 2023

Time: 9:30-11 a.m.

Location: Cotting School Auditorium

RSVP requested but not required (walk-ins are always welcome). For more information and to RSVP, contact Director of Admissions Elizabeth Russell at erussell@cotting.org or 781-862-7323 ext. 114.

Click here to learn more!

Community Resources & Events
Inclusive Youth and Adult Ballet

October 4, 2023 – December 6, 2023, with Communitas of Wakefield.

Join Ms. Hannah on Wednesday evenings to learn the basics of ballet. Ms. Hannah will teach all about this exciting form of dance, adapting to all abilities and having lots of fun along the way.

There are still openings in both programs!

  • Ages 5-15
  • 15 through adult

Click here to register or for more information or contact 781.587.2200 or socialnet@communitasma.orgInclusive.

Disability Resource Fair

Brooks Elementary School, Medford, MA, October 7, 2023. Hosted by the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Saturday October 7, 2023 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

  • Guest speakers include parents of children with disabilities and the President/Co-Founder of SMILE Mass
  • Mobile covid vaccine clinic
  • Over 15 exhibitors
  • Watch the Intelligent Lives [CC] movie at 12:15 p.m.
  • ASL interpreters available
  • Free parking and accessible by public transportation

Click here for more information or contact 781.396.5500.

Especially for Me Free Events

Visually Impaired Family Evenings

Saturday, October 7, 2023, 5-8 p.m.

Register Now

Join us for an evening at the Museum especially for families with members who have a visual impairment. Play, explore, experiment and imagine in the accessible Discovery Museum and Discovery Woods. Meet and play with similar families while we are closed to the general public and headcount is limited.

Autism-Friendly Evenings

  • Saturday, October 21, 2023-Register Now
  • Saturday, December 16, 2023-Registration not yet open*

Join us during this special free evening for families with members on the autism spectrum. Enjoy a fun, friendly experience in our accessible and universally designed museum while exploring our interactive exhibits and participating in hands-on activities. Any family that can benefit from a limited capacity visit is welcome at this event; a medical diagnosis is not required.

Dinner, including a gluten-free option, will be provided.

This Especially for Me event is offered in conjunction with Autism Alliance of MetroWest.

The events are free for all family members, but registration is required as space is limited. ASL interpretation may be available upon request; please indicate on the registration form if you would like interpretation.

All-Access Evenings

Saturday, November 18, 2023, 5-8 p.m. Registration not yet open*

Evenings for Families with Deaf, Hard of Hearing and KODA Children

Saturday, December 2, 2023, 5-8 p.m.

Register Now

Sensory-Friendly Afternoons

Sensory-Friendly Afternoons are all about inclusion. During these events, the Discovery Museum is open to the general public, but group visits and birthday parties are not scheduled to avoid crowding and support access to exhibits. Try a fun hands-on activity and use your sense of touch to explore a variety of textures.

MassHealth’s Adult Family Care and PCA Programs for Adults with Disabilities

Webinar, October 10, 2023, 7 p.m, with the Special Needs Transition Group of Wakefield, MA.

  • MassHealth’s Adult Family Care (AFC) and PCA programs both help pay for the caregiving of qualified adult children (including care provided parents, if they are not the guardians).
  • Speakers – The group will have two speakers who will provide the nuts and bolts of the Adult Family Care (AFC) and the Personal Care Assistance (PCA) programs.
  • The AFC presenter will be Allison Ananis, EOHHS MPASenior Manager, Agency Based FFS Community Programs, Adult Foster Care/Group Adult Foster Care.
  • The PCA presenter will be Kayla Buchanan-Craig, Senior Manager, PCA Program, MassHealth, Office of Long Term Services and Supports.

To join in the meeting please register or contact the Special Needs Transition Group at SPEDHousing.Transition@gmail.com.

Charting the LifeCourse in Action Caregivers Series

Webinar, October 11, 2023, with The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, The Arc of Massachusetts and the Institute for Community Inclusion. The LifeCourse in Action series is a virtual educational forum where you will hear inspiring stories and learn first-hand how these tools and resources may benefit you, your family, or your organization.

  • LifeCourse in Action Series is for you, your family members, service providers, advocates, self-advocates, and anyone who wants to learn more about the Charting the LifeCourse framework and tools.
  • Presenter: Ingrid Flory, Facilitator for the Massachusetts, Supporting Families Community of Practice, Family Support Director, Department of Developmental Services Central/West Region.

Session 2: October 11

Session 3: November 8

Session 4: December 13

Session 5: January 10

Session 6: February 14

Click here to register or contact Elizabeth.Wike@umb.edu.

Massachusetts Celebrates International White Cane Day

Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA, with the Massachusetts’ Commission for the Blind (MCB). Celebrate the independence of the white cane and help raise awareness of the White Cane Law in Massachusetts which requires drivers to identify and yield to pedestrians using a white cane or dog guide at street crossings.

There will also be a Resource Fair featuring:

  • City of Boston Disabilities Commission
  • Massachusetts Audio Information Network
  • MBTA Mobility Center
  • MBTA Department of System-Wide Accessibility
  • MBTA Public Engagement Department
  • MCB/DDS Partnership Project
  • Northeast Resource Center for Vision Education (NERCVE)
  • Partners for Youth with Disabilities
  • Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library
  • Perkins School for the Blind
  • The Carroll Center for the Blind

To register or for more information click here and scroll down to the event. Or email Carol.Cullins@mass.gov for more information.

If you would like to request an ADA accommodation, please contact MCB’s ADA Coordinator Shauntay M. King at 857.275.7763 or Shauntay.M.King@mass.gov at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Every effort will be made to provide a reasonable accommodation.

For more information on White Cane Awareness Month or for white cane training, contact the Orientation & Mobility Department at the Mass. Commission for the Blind at 800.392.6450(V/TTY) x7581.

Massachusetts White Cane Law: General Law Chapter 90 Section 14A – Stop for White Cane and Dog Guide Users at Street Crossings-It’s the LAW.

White Cane Awareness Month is to promote better understanding of what a white cane means & how pedestrians and motorist can assist long cane users and dog guide users at street crossings.

Planning a Life (PAL)

Two Sessions:

  • October 13, 2023 (virtual) and October 14, 2023 (Northampton)
  • November 3, 2023 (virtual) and November 4, 2023 (Charlestown)

Planning a Life (PAL) is a two-day transition conference for parents, caregivers and professionals. Learn useful skills and information to help young people prepare for full, productive lives during and after high school. Topics include the transition planning process, transition goals on the IEP and encouraging independence and self-advocacy.

Learn more and Register for Planning a Life

NAMI Basics for Families of Children and Teens with Emotional or Behavioral Challenges

Virtual Classes for Families in Massachusetts, October 17, 2023-November 21, 2023. A free course for parents and family caregivers of children and adolescents with emotional or behavioral issues. It provides critical strategies for taking care of your child and learning the ropes of recovery.

  • NAMI Basics is taught by NAMI-trained teachers who are parents or caregivers of children with similar issues. Participants will learn communication tips, how to problem-solve, and the skills to help them cope with the emotional impact of caring for their child.
  • At NAMI Basics, you’ll find out that you are not alone. The group setting of NAMI Basics provides mutual support and shared positive impact – you can experience compassion and reinforcement from people who understand your situation. You also can help others with your own experience.

NAMI Basics covers:

  • Managing crises, solving problems and communicating effectively
  • How to take care of yourself and handle stress
  • Developing the confidence and stamina to support your child with compassion
  • Advocating for your child’s rights at school and in health care settings
  • Learning about current treatments, including evidence-based therapies, medications, and side effects
  • Gaining an overview of the public mental health care, school, and juvenile justice systems and supporting resources to help you navigate these systems
  • Understanding the challenges and impact of mental health conditions on your entire family

Preregistration is required or 800.370.9085 or info@namimass.org.

Explore Your Creativity with Access to Arts

Starting in October, participants can explore visual arts through our Access to Arts (ATA) Program, formerly known as Access to Theater.

There will be two ATA Programs running this fall:

  • ATA Visual Arts Workshops in drawing, painting and sculpture will take place at the NonProfit Center in Boston (89 South Street). We will meet from 4-6 p.m. on October 16, 23 and 30 and November 6, 13 and 20.
  • ATA Community Mosaic Project. We will be creating a mosaic installation at Spaulding Hospital in Cambridge (1575 Cambridge St). We will meet from 4-6 p.m. from October 17-November 28 (no workshops on Halloween or the week of Thanksgiving).

Please fill out the youth application or email sbobbette@pyd.org to sign up!

To sign up for any of our fall programs, click below or reach out to info@pyd.org for more information.


DDS 101: What You Need to Know from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services Metro Region

For individuals and families of all ages.

Where: Virtual

Topics: Eligibility, transition, self-direction and autism supports


  • Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 6:30-7:30 p.m. register here.To request ASL and other language interpreters, contact Maria by October 4, 2023.
  • Thursday, October 26, 10-11 a.m. register here. To request ASL and other language interpreters, contact Maria by October 12, 2023.

Meeting links will be emailed to registrants prior to the event.

Questions? Contact Maria Stefano maria.stefano@mass.gov or 781.314.7508.

Webinars: Help With Problem Solving the Transition Process

The ARC of Massachusetts is offering webinars to help problem solve the transition process:

Virtual Navigation Help with ARC staff.

  • Have issues navigating services?
  • Want tips on Turning 22?
  • Where do you start?

12-1 p.m.

  • Oct 18
  • Nov 15
  • Dec 20

Registration is required.

This fall, the BAC is hosting a Community Game Day series! This group is intended for neurodivergent pre-teens and teens ages 9-17 (non-BAC individuals welcome as well!) to make new friends outside the context of typical therapeutic activities. The groups will be held from 3-4 p.m. at BAC Natick on:

October 21, 2023

November 18, 2023

December 9, 2023

Participants do not need to sign up for all dates.

Feel free to check out the flyer and go to Boston Ability Center Community Game Day to register!

AANE’s 2023 Virtual Daniel W. Rosenn Connections Conference

A one-day virtual event for the entire autism community: autistic individuals, their families, professionals and allies!



Join us for a vibrant, virtual gathering of autistic individuals, their families, professionals, and allies to celebrate the richness of autistic culture. This year’s conference will deep dive into the world of autism from a cultural perspective while fostering understanding, acceptance and appreciation for the unique experiences of autistic individuals.


  • Date: October 27, 2023
  • Time: 11 a.m- 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Livestreamed via Zoom and the recording will be available to registrants post-event
  • Cost: $45 for AANE members, $60 for non-members

To learn more about AANE membership contact fundraising@aane.org. AANE offers free and discounted admission; contact events@aane.org to learn more.


Keynote Highlight:

An Ethnographic Examination of Autistic Culture and Identity

As the neurodiversity movement has gained momentum, communities of autistic individuals have evolved towards a unique autistic culture. In this keynote, Dawn Prince Hughes explores the ethnographic evolution of the autistic culture and the importance of the autistic identity.


Dawn Prince-Hughes is an anthropologist, primatologist and ethologist. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in interdisciplinary anthropology from the Universität Herisau in Switzerland and is an adjunct professor of anthropology at Western Washington University. She is also a successful author of books such as Gorillas Among Us: A Primate Ethnographer’s Book of Days and Songs of the Gorilla Nation in which she describes how she learned to manage her autism from observing and interacting with gorillas at the Woodland Park Zoo (where she was employed when she was young). Additionally, she is the editor of Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students with Autism. Most recently, Dr. Prince-Hughes has been facilitating the autism ethnography project, which she also designed, for the Cultural Autism Studies arm of Yale’s social autism programs (CASY), run by Dr. Roger Jou.

2023-2024 School Vacation Programs

They’re back and registration is open!

December 26, 27 and 28, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

February 20, 21 and 22, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

April 16, 17 and 18, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Multi-age program for ages 5-12. A great alternative for families who live a distance!

Reserve your spot(s) here! No deposit required.

Tuition: $400/week cash discount or $425/week by check/Venmo.

Drop-in available $140/morning.

Have a great weekend!


Please share your own resources and questions with Pam Varrin at pvarrin@cotting.org.

Helpful Links
Family Resources Dashboard
2023-2024 School Year Calendar
Cotting Admissions Information
Spread the Word!
Do you know someone who would like to learn more about Cotting School? Please share the information at the links below with someone you know. Cotting School parents are our best ambassadors, and our team is available to connect with families that would like to learn more!
Cotting’s Viewbook: Reaching New Heights!
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