Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CPSE-CSE Meeting

CPSE stands for the Committee for Preschool Special Education, and CSE stands for the Committee for Special Education, which encompasses the next 12-16 years of school. These meetings are held annually to discuss student progress, and next steps. They can be intimidating and emotional.

The meeting was headed by the assistant director of pupil personnel services. She was joined by a special education teacher from the school district, a regular education teacher from the school district, my son's teacher, me, a school psychologist, and another person from the preschool, whose position I can not remember.

There were three parts to the meeting. The first part was the annual CPSE meeting, which would discuss whether or not my son would be eligible for the Summer Program. The second part was the preschool summary meeting, which would evaluate how much progress my son has made during his two years in preschool. The third part was the CSE meeting, which would discuss my son's classification, and where he would be placed now that he was entering the public school system.

The CPSE meeting reviewed my son's progress over the past year, and that he has started to eat some fruit, drink from a straw, take off his coat, and talk, although most of his speech still sounds like babbling. Because of his severe delays and his tendency to regress when he's absent from school, it was decided that he was indeed eligible for the Summer program. That was good.

Then part two of the meeting evaluated how he had progressed throughout his preschool "career". It was a little like the Newlywed Game. The teacher and I had to pick a number from 1-7 to describe how well my son was able to do something, 1 being not at all, 3 being an emerging skill, and 7 being a mastered skill. Then the meeting leader would tell us what my son's score was during his initial evaluation before beginning preschool. All of the scores remained exactly the same except for self help, since he can finally tell me if he's hungry and request a bottle, some water, or some fruit. This was the only area where there was improvement, where my son went from a 1 to a 4. This was disconcerting, upsetting, and sad. Then it was on to part three.

The third part of the meeting was the CSE meeting. The first order of business was to discuss how my son would be classified. Because he is on the autism spectrum, and also has dyspraxia, growth hormone deficiency, and other muscular and neurological issues, as well as very little ability for self-care, he has been classified as a child with multiple disabilities. Because he is so very delayed and needs so much assistance to do absolutely anything, he can not go to a regular school, not even a special education class in a regular school. The best ratio in a school is 15:1, and this is not good enough for my son. So, it was suggested that he be placed in a BOCES (Board of Continuing Education Services) school program for children on the autism spectrum. The ratio there is 6:1:2...six students, one teacher, and 2 assistants. He will be able to continue to receive speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy in addition to behavioral and psychological services. His case will continue to be reviewed annually, and depending upon his progress he will either be moved to a regular school, or he may remain in this program until he graduates high school, which he has until he is 21 to do. Should he remain in this program, he will not be required to take state exams or regents, and will graduate with an IEP diploma. IEP is Individualized Education Plan, and is a course of action used to evaluate the requirements and progress of special education students. An IEP diploma is not the same as a regular diploma or even a GED. It's basically a certificate of completion only. The program does provide counselling and job training and placement, however, so that he would be able to work in whatever capacity he was able.

He will be in a school with other children like himself, and will have every opportunity to succeed at the best of his capabilities.

The school is 1/2 hour away, and he would be on a special bus with a matron, and would receive door to door service. Because he's little, he will also be getting a car seat. These are also very good things.

It was upsetting and gratifying at the same time. I know what his issues and problems are. I couldn't imagine him going to a regular school and riding the bus with all the other "normal" kids who could be very mean, and without a bus matron to supervise him. I couldn't imagine him going to a regular public school, even with a special education class, and then mixed in with other classes. I didn't know about the BOCES school, and I was so happy to hear of a place that I think would be just perfect for him...a place where he would be with other kids just like himself, getting all the services, help, and supervision he needs. I was also a little sad, because it's always difficult to have to focus on your child's problems, and to have a qualitative record of his lack of progress. There's always a bit of a period for me when I mourn my son's struggles, and imagine the future, and think how are we going to get through all this?
Then I see his smiling face, and remember to take everything one day at a time, one hug at a time, and know that love and faith will get us all through.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I bought a tent for my son several years ago because it's supposed to be a great developmental toy. Now he and my daughter love playing in it together...and around it...well, just running in and out and around the tent is great fun. The best part is to see the hair-dos created by the static electricity that builds up running through the material. Apparently, there's just nothing better than a tent.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Busy Week!

Drumming! My daughter running around at my son's kiddie party with her "Minnie"... she calls all animals, stuffed and real, "Minnies" after our cat Minnie. LOL

My son coming out of a jumping toy at his party.
My daughter coming out of the same toy.

Well, since my son's birthday, we've all had colds. We were feeling particularly miserable Thursday and Friday, but by the weekend, we were feeling a little bit better and still did the things we were planning for my son's birthday weekend.

My son LOVES drums. Our baby sitter's boyfriend plays the drums. We're very blessed to have found a babysitter who loves our kids! She told her boyfriend about my son, and he offered to bring his drum over. So, I thought that in return, I'd cook dinner. I told my next door neighbor about it, and she said she'd love to come over with her husband and daughter. So, it turned into a regular little party.

My baby sitter's boyfriend and my son played duets, and my son followed his rhythm. My daughter and next door neighbor's daughter also played the drum.
I made a lasagna for dinner with salad and garlic bread, and my next door neighbor made Emeril's Chocolate Cream Pie which was TO DIE FOR. Here is the recipe.

It was a great night and everyone had a wonderful time.

Sunday we went to church as usual (well, lately anyway we started going again before Easter), and the children were HORRIBLE...the worst they've ever been. We were even locked up in the back of the church behind closed doors, but when they opened the doors to let people go up for communion, my son booked up the center aisle right up onto the altar. So, I had to chase him down and retrieve him. Well, it's a children's mass, and by now everyone knows my son because he's impossible to miss seeing and hearing, so I doubt anyone was terribly surprised.

Then in the afternoon we had a little kiddie party with some boys from his class at a local place that's filled with inflatables to jump on and climb on and slide down...the perfect place for a bunch of hyperactive boys. Everyone had a great time there too. My son refuses to take off the participation bracelet they gave him when we went in. LOL

It was a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Boo is Five Years Old Today

The fire engine cake I planned to make for my son for his birthday.
My failed attempt at the fire engine cake...the poor thing disintegrated and collapsed. :(
My son turned five years old today, and we had a great day. My husband and I woke him up by singing happy birthday, and he loved it. I baked cupcakes for his friends in school, and he was so excited by them! There have been so many times when he didn't pay any attention to gifts or birthdays or Christmas or any other holiday, so the fact that he was excited by the cupcakes is a huge deal! He even counted the M&M's on the cupcakes...there were three on each one. He was adorable. Then when he came home from school, there were a couple of cupcakes left over, and he wanted one!!! So, he and his sister had cupcakes for snack. He didn't eat it, but he did lick the frosting, which is also a big deal!

I had planned on making him a fire engine cake, and found what I thought would be an easy one to make by Betty Crocker. However, it was not easy, and my cake disintegrated into crumbs until it collapsed. So, I called my husband and asked him to pick up a cake on the way home, and we had ice cream cake instead.

My son wasn't feeling very well because he has a cold, and in fact, we all have colds. My husband feels worse than any of us, poor guy. So, we didn't have the neighbors over for cake like we planned, but I did bring them over a few pieces.

My son loves having happy birthday sung to him, and he tried really hard to blow out his candles. He even opened up his birthday card and present...which he also never does. So, we were so happy! He loved listening to his happy birthday song message from my mother, and Then my brother called to wish him a happy birthday, and he said, "Hello Uncle R..." and thank you. Wow. It was a great night. :) What a great birthday for my Boo.

Happy Birthday sweet boy. Mommy loves you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Serious Case of the Giggles

With all the toys and other items of amusement my kids have, who would have thought that this shirt hanging on a hanger on the coat closet would be what the kids played with most tonight.

They had a serious case of the giggles. My son was making my daughter laugh until she couldn't breathe by spinning this shirt around the doorknob. She would count to three, and he'd give it a whirl, and oh boy, was that funny. If it spun off the knob and fell on the floor, well, that was just too much. My husband videotaped most of it. The video is all shaky because he was laughing so hard.

It's moments like this I remember when things get difficult. :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

We went hiking yesterday. It was a little windy and cool, but it was still a beautiful day. My son did not want to go. He wanted to stay home. So I forced him to go. I had to nearly drag him down the trail...after about five minutes, he was just fine, and then it was nearly impossible to get him to leave afterwards. As any typical boy, he was always on the lookout for a good stick to carry, and so long as he didn't swing them around, I let him. He found a pretty large branch that he dragged behind him like a rake. His little sister, always looking up to her big brother, also found herself a suitable stick to carry. They had a lot of fun, and how cute!!!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Daddy Was a Very Good Boy

My daughter loves stickers. Since we got to a lot of doctors for my son, she also gets stickers at the end of the appointments for being a good, patient girl while we pay attention to her brother. So, whenever stickers are available, she loves to put them all over us and herself. She just loves my husband, and even has a little "Daddy Dance" that she does when he gets home. I just got one sticker, but Daddy must have been a really good boy because he got lots of stickers. How cute is she? I can't stand it...ohhhh and those curls!!!!!!!!!!

Annual Reports/ CPSE/My Silly Kids

CPSE stands for the committee for preschool special education. Each year they are required to meet with the parents using the annual report prepared by the teachers and therapists to discuss services the child is eligible for during the following year. The first meeting I attended was during the transition from early intervention, where my son received therapy at home, to preschool, where all of his services would be provided in an educational institution. Now we're already working on the transition to kindergarten.
Reading the annual report is always difficult. By necessity, it focuses on the negative because all of the problem areas (or as Avis Rent a Car always used to call them...areas of opportunity) must be identified and strategies must be suggested.
Progress is painfully slow with my son. In two years he progressed from being 12-18 months developmentally to being 18-24 months developmentally. Everything is difficult for him.
However, he's still my little boy, and while I was feeling all upset about his report, he came over to me, leaned his head on me and said, "Ahhh Mama." That made my day.
I just love him so much. I always tell him "I don't know what to do with you" followed by, "I guess I'll just have to kiss you." He thinks that's funny.
He has such a wonderful sense of humor and loves to laugh. He and my daughter are always cracking each other up until they are absolutely hysterical. Today we went out to eat at Applebees with a gift certificate my husband received for his birthday, and the people in the booth next to us were laughing. So, my son became hysterical just enjoying laughing along with them. This of course made my daughter laugh too.
My daughter is picking up words left and right, and also has an incredible sense of humor. We're laughing here all the time. Everything is funny. Today when we asked her where we ate, she said, "Applebees". She loved the big apple on the sign and exclaimed, "Apple! Apple!" She's a pure joy.
Someone walking by our table in the restaurant said we had such well behaved children. They really were very good. We were grateful.