Weekly Update: March 1, 2024

Weekly Update

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Ms. Caughey’s students have had a blast learning about outer space!

Information From Cotting School

Star Employee of the Week

We are proud to announce this week’s Star Employee of the Week is Michael P.! Cotting’s Vocational Department asked him to expand his responsibilities at Magic Garden Children’s Center and, wow, did he deliver. After practicing at Cotting School, Michael read “Bear About Town” by Stella Blackstone to an engaged group of preschool students. Congratulations!

Love Cotting? Let Boston Parents Readers’ Choice Awards Know!

Boston Parents Family Favorites nominations open today! Voting happens in two-rounds, with the first round taking place from March 1-April, 2024 at

2 a.m. We hope you will consider nominating us by writing “Cotting School” in the “Special Needs Services & Resources” categories: Special Needs Preschools, Special Needs Elementary Schools, Special Needs Middle Schools and Special Needs High Schools.


The second round opens in mid-April, with voters being able to select from the top nominees in each category. Thank you for your support!


Vote here: bit.ly/BPPFamilyFavorites

Meet Up and Socialize

Take a break from parenting and join the Cotting PTO for some adult time.

Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m.

Newburyport Brewing Co.

RSVP to triciasabulis@michaudinsurance.com

The Cotting PTO will provide light nibbles and drinks will be available for purchase.

Mark Your Calendars for the Next PTO and PAC Meetings

Our next PAC meeting is scheduled for:

Friday, March 15, 2024

9-10 a.m.

In person in the Board Room and on Zoom. A draft agenda and link for joining online will be sent by email.

Please also mark your calendars for the remaining upcoming PAC meetings, all on Friday mornings from 9-10 a.m.:

  • March 15
  • April 26
  • May 24

Our next PTO meeting is scheduled for:

Friday, April 5, 2024

8:30-10 a.m.

In person in the Board Room and on Zoom. A draft agenda and link for joining online will be sent by email.

Please also mark your calendars for the remaining upcoming PTO meetings, all on Friday mornings from 8:30-10 a.m.:

  • April 5
  • May 3
Thank You Cotting Parents and Guardians

Thank you to all of the Cotting families who contributed to the latest PTO staff appreciation event on February 15! The bounty of treats was timed just right, arriving just before February break. You can still help show your appreciation by paying for some of the items included in the event! Click here and select the item or items you would like to send payment for. Make your contribution via the PTO Square site or send in a check made out to the Cotting PTO to Cotting School, attn.: Cotting PTO. Please put Teacher Appreciation in the memo.

Community Resources & Events

Flexible Supports for College Success for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Webinar, March 6, 2024, with the Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston. Are you interested in learning what supports are available on a college campus for students with intellectual disabilities? Our presenters will explore the comprehensive supports available on college campuses. This webinar will shed light on the range of resources and strategies available to help students excel in inclusive programs.

Key topics covered:

  • Supported Education: Learn how peer mentors and educational coaches provide individualized support to students.
  • Campus Resources: Discover disability services accommodations and campus support center offerings.
  • Student Perspectives: Hear stories from current students on their experience using and accessing campus support services.


  • Ashley Luce, MA, Program Manager, Postsecondary Education–Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston
  • Maria Paiewonsky, EdD, Project Director -Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston
  • Special guest: Luke SaintAmour, Student, UMass Boston

Click here to register or for more information or contact sheila.johnson@umb.edu.

The Jody Acford Conference: Building Interdependence – Practical Tools for Neurodivergent Adulthood

Virtual Conference, March 8, 2024, with the AANE of Watertown, MA. This conference will provide valuable insights and practical tools for Autistic and other Neurodivergent individuals navigating the complexities of adulthood.

  • Emphasizing the importance of interdependence, AANE will offer a day of learning designed to foster capability and confidence in adulthood, including information on healthcare, financial literacy, housing and more.
  • For Cotting parents who have questions about future housing for your students, this conference will have a workshop dedicated to exploring the possibilities – this information can be applicable to adults with a range of disabilities: Finding/Navigating Housing Solutions – Desiree Kameka Galloway from Autism Housing Pathways
  • Conference registrants will gain free access to the 2023 recorded presentations on accessing federal benefits.

Fees apply, registration is required or contact events@aane.org.

FCSN Visions of Community Virtual Conference

Join our vibrant community of families, youth and professionals who support and advocate for children with disabilities at a conference where you matter.

March 9, 2024 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tickets: $25 (scholarships available)


Conference Schedule

Register Now


Visit our VOC 2024 event page for more information!

For your $25 ticket, access all live events and recorded presentations for three months after the conference closes. For scholarship information and questions, email voc@fcsn.org.

Pre-Conference Sessions

The New IEP Form

March 5 at 5 p.m.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will talk about the purpose, changes and intended impact of the new IEP form

Meet the Commissioners

March 6 at 5 p.m.

Hear from top leaders at state agencies about their priorities for improving outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and language learning needs.

Intro to Genetics for Parents and School Personnel

March 6 at 5 p.m.

The New England Genetics Network provides an intro to genetics and shares Genetic Education Materials for School Success (GEMSS).

VOC Information

DDS Self-Directed Adult Disability Services in Massachusetts

Webinar, March 12, 2024, with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. Hear how participants and their families can design individualized services to meet their needs through the Participant Directed Program or Agency with Choice.

  • Self-Directed service delivery models allow the participant and family the opportunity to create individualized supports based on the vision and needs.
  • The individual and family have authority and responsibility over a budget and can decide who they would like to hire, when the supports will be provided, what the individual will do, where the supports will be provided and how services will be arranged.
  • The services are flexible and can be customized to meet the changing needs of the individual as they learn and grow.

Click here to register or for more information or contact my.nazaire@mass.gov.

Schedule of FREE Events at Discovery Museum

Admission is FREE to join us during special hours for families and groups that would benefit from a limited capacity, sensory-friendly visit. During these events, we offer accommodations that increase access to exhibits and provide an opportunity for families to network with one another in an understanding, ADA-compliant environment. Extra steps are also taken for the comfort of our visitors, including a designated Take-A-Break Space.

Preregistration is required or email fun@discoveryacton.org with any questions.

Sensory-Friendly Afternoons

Visit when we’re open to the public, but lower visitation is expected.

Tuesdays 1:30-4:30 pm:

  • March 12
  • April 2
  • May 7
  • June 4

Special Evenings

Visit on Saturdays 5-8 p.m., when the museum is closed to the public. Dinner (including gluten-free option) provided.

Autism-friendly Evening

  • March 9
  • June 15

Evening for Deaf, Blind or DeafBlind

  • March 23

Sensory-friendly Evening for Visitors 18+

  • April 6

Preregistration is required

All Access Evening

  • April 27

For any questions please contact Susan Heilman, Director of Community Partnerships, at sheilman@discoveryacton.org.

177 Main Street (Route 27)

Acton, MA 01720


Sensory and Disability Friendly Performances of The Wizard of Oz!

Acton, MA, March 15– 17, 2024, with Open Door Theater. Follow the yellow brick road over the rainbow in this stage adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s beloved tale, featuring the iconic musical score from the MGM film.

  • Young Dorothy Gale travels from Kansas over the rainbow to the magical Land of Oz, makes friends, has adventure, heartbreak and realizes that she has the power to create her own future and continues to thrill audiences worldwide.
  • Discounted tickets for EBT, WIC and ConnectorCare Cardholders.

All shows will be:

  • Relaxed/sensory friendly
  • Interpreted into American Sign Language and open captioned
  • Second weekend (March 22–24) all shows will also be audio described
  • Accessible and companion seating available
  • Assisted listening devices available for all performances and include over the ear headsets, earbuds and a telecoil-enabled loop system.

Click here for more information and to order tickets, or contact 978.264.8150

“Housing 101” Disability Workshop

Webinar, March 18, 2024, with the Charles River Center of Needham, MA. “Housing 101” is for any parent even “thinking about housing.” This presentation introduces families to the range of public funds available to pay for housing and supportive services (including for those without DDS supports).

  • Some examples are given of how these can be combined with private funds to create housing.
  • Target audience: Parents of transition-aged youth (14-22+).
  • This presentation introduces families to the range of public funds available to pay for housing and supportive services (including for those without DDS supports).
  • Some examples are given of how these can be combined with private funds to create housing.
  • Presented by: Cathy Boyle, Autism Housing Pathways.

RSVPs required to: familysupport@charlesrivercenter.org.

Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress 2024 Conference

Worcester, MA, March 23, 2024. Celebrate MDSC’s 40th Anniversary UnstoppABLE Conference, where the MDSC will mark the organization’s and community’s four decades of Building Brighter Tomorrows.

  • For self-advocates with Down syndrome, as well as parents and caretakers, grandparents and siblings, health care professionals, educators and others.
  • Hear the latest research findings and timely information from regional and national experts on the full range of topics as it relates to Down syndrome.
  • This 40th Anniversary Conference will put a particular focus on the state of research in Down syndrome, including innovative clinical trials, studies and initiatives across the country which promise to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome.
  • Throughout the day, you will have access to dozens of expert-led sessions, each providing invaluable information and resources for all attendees — families with young children through adulthood, educators, medical professionals, siblings, and, of course, self-advocates. information from national and local experts on a range of topics related to Down syndrome.

Fees apply, registration is required or contact 781.221.0024.

Apply for the Waypoint Adventures “Leaders-In-Training” Program!

Are you a young adult (age 16-28) with a disability looking to further develop your leadership skills? Do you love adventure, community and the outdoors? We are accepting applications for our next group of Waypoint Leaders-In-Training! From May through November, join us for an adventure each month alongside an awesome and supportive community, growing as leaders along the way.

The application process includes filling out an application and participating in a short interview, as well as a program fee (scholarships available if needed).


We are looking for applicants who are able to do the following:

  • Have a formal interview with a Waypoint staff member
  • Be reasonably familiar and comfortable with social settings
  • Can participate in group discussions around a theme or goal
  • Can answer open ended questions
  • Can generally follow multi-step instructions or stick to a task independently (or with few prompts)
  • Commit to attending and participating in all LIT programs

Click here to learn more or apply today!

Applications due March 25, 2024.

Wheelchair Basketball Social

Sunday April 7, 2-4 p.m. at the Andover/North Andover YMCA

Fun games, contests and scrimmages. Players of all ages and abilities are welcome to this free event at the Andover/North Andover YMCA.

To register and for more information, contact Kelley at to kohara@mvymca.org.

Save the Date! Disability Connections: A Massachusetts Office on Disability Networking Event

Join the Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) for Disability Connections, a networking event for the Massachusetts disability community. Hear about MOD’s latest work promoting accessibility across the Commonwealth, and connect with leaders from local and state government, nonprofit disability services, advocacy groups and all who make up the vibrant Massachusetts disability community.


Disability Connections: A Massachusetts Office on Disability Networking Event

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Mass General Brigham Assembly Row

399 Revolution Drive, Somerville, MA

This event will be live streamed on Zoom. It is free and open to the public. Registration will open in February. ASL interpretation and CART services will be provided.

Disability Pride Celebration at Fenway Park

Join the Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays, May 13 at 7:10 p.m. for their annual Disability Pride Celebration at Fenway Park!

Ticket holders who purchase through this special offer will receive an exclusive Red Sox hat with the Disability Pride flag as well as braille lettering spelling Fenway Park on the brim. Click here for tickets and more information.

The Red Sox are committed to making baseball and Fenway Park accessible. Ballpark and program accommodations can be found on the Fenway Park Access Guide. If you have additional questions about accessibility, please call 617.226.6000 to speak with a Fenway Park ambassador.

New Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program

Debby Sabin, Occupational Therapist and Founder of the Lovelane Therapeutic Riding Program, has embarked on a new but familiar path. She has gone on to create a small, private program of therapeutic riding at a barn in Concord and is looking for a few new clients. If you are interested, please contact Debby directly at debbysabin@gmail.com or 781.799.9751.

Become a Parent to Parent Support Parent

Do you like to help others by drawing on your own personal experience? Our Family TIES Parent to Parent Program is a great way to volunteer for just a few hours–or as much time as you’d like!


Parent to Parent is the foundation of our new C2C program, and continues to serve as an essential source of phone-based support for families of children with disabilities and medical needs. Volunteers complete a 1-session training and then are matched to a family who has asked for help.


Learn more on the Parent to Parent website!

Help Applying for Mass Health


The Federation is a MassHealth Certified Application Counselor Organization! Trained staff members are available to help families apply for MassHealth, or to check your application status.


Join us for Walk-In Hours:

Wednesdays starting at 10 a.m.


Location: FCSN Offices – Schrafft’s Center

529 Main Street, Suite 1M3

Boston, MA 02129


Or request an appointment at mmclaughlin@fcsn.org or nmonteiro@fcsn.org.

Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

REMINDER Seeking parents/guardians of special health care needs students for a survey on oral health related quality of life.

Invitation to participate in a research study being conducted at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) under PI Dr. Cheen Loo–the survey is still open for responses. The goal of this survey is to better understand the impact of the lock down and school closures in particular and how it affected children with special health care needs along with their families in the USA and Kuwait.

Participation will include the completion of one survey taking approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Your participation in this study is voluntary and there are no personal benefits to your participation. This study has been reviewed by the Tufts Social, Behavioral and Educational Research (SBER) Institutional Review Board (IRB). If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact fatemah.alwaheeb@tufts.edu. If you have questions about the rights of research subjects, please contact the Institutional Review Board Administrator at 617.627.8804.

Please click this link to take the survey.

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
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