My son, Anthony, is 4 years old and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. After receiving that diagnosis, amongst the many thoughts and feelings that went through my mind and heart, the most prominent one was fear. I was a special educator, and now a special needs mom. Over the course of 4 years, I’ve learned a lot as an educator and as a mom. Joining groups such as the Special Moms Network have been such a blessing. It is so helpful to have new and old mothers coming together to share experiences and struggles of parenting special needs children. The close knit “family” comprised of such strong woman who share resources, listen, and support one another on issues that only we understand. Achievements and setbacks that make us laugh and cry all in the same minute- nobody else could understand.
As part of the Special Moms Network, I try to give back and contribute to the best of my ability. Compared to some, I’m still considered a “new mom,” but in my 4 years (and counting) in this position, I think I have quite a bit to share with others. One area in particular, I work a lot with the CPSE process for children in the NYC Board of Education districts, as a NYCDOE District 75 teacher.
Let me sum it up briefly. Depending on where you live, you are assigned to a district (unless, however, you wait on a list for a different program.) Each general education school has some sort of special education program (self contained or inclusion) and related services as needed like any other school. In the NYCDOE, students that have more significant delays (physical, medical, social, cognitive, etc.) and require a more restrictive environment, more than the general education can provide, there is a separate program called District 75. District 75 is made up students with autism, CP, Down’s syndrome, multiple Handicaps, Learning disabilities, emotional/psych, sensory, communication, and many more classifications. D75 is scattered all over the city in over 50 schools (as well as home instruction and a hospital schools program for students living in a hospital). In some schools there are a handful of D75 classrooms mixed in, or some schools have a designated floor/wing for D75 classes, and some schools that are entirely dedicated to D75. Basically if your assigned school cannot accommodate your special education child’s needs, they refer them to D75. You can read more about the program at http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/SpecialEducation/D75/AboutD75/default.htm
Sara Leblanc is a special needs mom and has been a Special educator for the New York City board of education for 10 years. As a mother of 4-yr old twins, Sofia and Anthony (cerebral palsy and epilepsy), Sara takes pride in dedicating her days to teaching and advocating for her special needs school students as well as her own children at home. She is extremely grateful for all the support from the Special Moms Network and especially blessed to be a part of it.”