Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Committee on Special Education Year In Review... aka, I Am A Machine

Add glasses and this is surprisingly accurate.
As I bask in the glory of summer, I remember that this year was not all Zumba classes, bike rides, wedding planning, and watching TLC. As you may remember, this year was totally nutty-- my Committee on Special Education (CSE) chairperson was out for 9 months receiving chemo and I spent the year working with a district representative (which was fantastic); I single-handedly underwent a state ed. review; attempted to run Positive Behavior Intervention Supports like Check-in, Check-out; and of course, dealt with every day chaos and crisis. I'd be a big fat liar if I said I'm not enjoying the time off, that's fo sho.

Before school ended, I sat down and totaled up all of the stats for the Committee on Special Education meetings I've done during '11-'12. The results were all together staggering, nauseating, tiring, and awe-inspiring. Here are some fun facts...
  • The meetings held for male vs. female students was 73 vs. 42. Our special education population at our building (and in the district) is disproportionately male and African American.
  • We held 30 initial CSE meetings. Many of these meetings were kiddos that were being referred for services due to severe behavioral problems, and the students were recommended for more restrictive settings where their needs could be met, such as a Special Class. Five of these initial referrals did not qualify for services. 
  • In a similar vein, we held 28 reevaluation meetings where a more restrictive setting was recommended. Many of these were for a Special Class, but others were a recommendation where a student moved from receiving only related services, like speech, to Integrated Co-Teaching services.
  • We held 21 reevaluation meetings where changes were made to programming (adding or removing a related service, etc) or as part of a three-year reevaluation, in accordance with legal mandates.
  • We declassified 8 students from special education services this year. One of them was due to chronic lack of attendance in school, thus not accessing special education services nor receiving appropriate instruction (he came to school four days all year).
  • Although I had three full days of CSE meetings in March (on top of helping teachers with the Annual Review process for their caseloads), the biggest volume of CSE meetings came late fall, during the state ed. review. In November and December, I had a total of four meetings days, but they covered 30 kiddos. I'm getting hives just remembering... ugh.
  • My building has a small population of preschoolers receiving special education services via the Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE). When they turn school age in kindergarten, we have to reevaluate their programs to see if they will transition into CSE services. We completed 4 CPSE to CSE reevaluations this year, two at the beginning of the year for '11-'12, and two at the end for '12-'13 (we got ahead of the game). 
  • We amended 24 students' IEPs, making minor changes that don't overly affect their service levels. These included changing goals, fixing/cleaning up parts of the Present Levels of Educational Performance (PLEP), altering time durations for programming, and adjusting program modifications and testing accommodations. 
So, for those playing at home, that brings my Committee on Special Education meetings for the 2011-2012 school year to a whopping 115.

I am psychologist. Hear me roar.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Analyzing Your Friends: A Fun Party Trick

I'm sure that many of you, when telling others that you're a school psychologist, have encountered those folks who get nervous that you're analyzing them or are eager to tell you their problems (or they ask if you're a school counselor, whatevs). Sure, we joke and laugh, but maybe you are psychoanalyzing or evaluating them in some way unintentionally (or on purpose, I won't judge). Honestly, as psychologists, we have more insight into human behavior than the average Joe, and maybe we're scrutinizing those we meet just a little more.

For me, this means seeing dysfunction where it doesn't actually exist.

Fiance and his college roommates went as the Channel 4 News Team one year
for Halloween. He was Brian Fantana, at left, with a legit dirty mustache.
Fiance went to high school with a group of guys who are still all very close and are very happy to revert to Frat Pack silliness when they're together (think The Hangover and Anchorman bromances). One of the guys, Chewy, is a little younger than the rest and therefore often the butt of silliness. I'll begin by stating that Chewy has no mental health concerns or developmental disabilities... but that doesn't stop me from very jokingly and in no way seriously finding them (in his defense, I tease him about this often and he takes it in stride and without offense).

Thus, I bring you, Why I Think Chewy May Have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (as substantiated by NY State Part 200 educational regulations and DSM-IV diagnostic criteria):

  • Use of repetitive phrases, especially movie quotes (i.e. Anchorman, I Love You, Man, Superbad, Wedding Crashers, etc). Also, echoing statements of friends and peers for days and weeks after it was first stated (i.e. "adorable," "cupcake," "it's not not hot out," "chicks chicks chicks," "so good! so good!,") Meets Part 200 and DSM-IV criteria B3
  • Encompassing preoccupation with women, or "chicks" - looking at women, chatting up women, trying to pick up women, going on dates with women. Will then work a certain girl into repetitive phrasing (i.e. "omg I love her so much," "love her, need her, Chewy," repeating the girl's name over and over). Meets Part 200 and DSM-IV criteria C1
  • Use of repetitive/stereotyped gestures and poses, which often coincide with said repetitive phrases (i.e. pumping his arms in the air above his head while squatting and cheering, "It's free!"; flicking his wrist and fingers while stating, "Obviously.")  Meets Part 200 and DSM-IV criteria C3
  • Adheres to routines in most weekend locales, food, and drink (i.e. same group of watering holes, vodka tonics, Bud Light Limes, Raspberry BBQ chicken wings). Meets Part 200 criteria
Actual diagnosis/classification: typical mid-20 something male. But super psychologist me sees a little bit of the Autism spectrum, for amusement's sake.

Please tell me I'm not the only one. :)

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