Boy Born Without Cerebellum Enters Kindergarten

10:05 PM, Sep 4, 2012   |    comments
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CLARENCE, NY - The first day of kindergarten is a milestone for any child, But for one new student at Sheridan Hill Elementary, starting school this fall is more than the next step: it's a leap.

"I think when mom and I first talked about it, it was a little bit of a shock thinking he'd be coming into public school, and he's really ready," said Christine Berry-Krazmien, School Psychologist at Sheridan Hill Elementary.

A bit of a shock because Chase has an incredibly rare condition; he was born without a trace of his Cerebellum. That's the part of the brain that plays a major role in motor control, balance, coordination, emotional control, language and learning.

Chase is also missing his pons, a structure that regulates basic functions, like sleeping and breathing.

We first introduced you to Chase about a year and a half ago.  Back then he was-- and still is-- a puzzle for top doctors around the world.

"His vocabulary skills have gone through the roof, he's imitating everything," said Heather Britton, Chase's mom. "Saying everything, he's always understood everything, but he's much more expressive now."

She says his vocabulary includes more than 150 words, and he reads about 20 of them from flash cards.

But as his new teacher has noticed, Chase is not all business.

"I've noticed significantly his sense of humor," said Andrea Pusateri, Chase's teacher. "He's got quite a sense of humor. I think he's going to keep us all on our toes."

"His favorite thing is to start a game with somebody and then when you get into it, he stops it and says that you're done, and then when you act upset that he's doing it, that he's ruining your fun, he thinks its hysterical," said Heather Britton.

This year hasn't brought all good news; a few months ago Chase started having seizures.

"The day after he started, the week he started, he had them every other day. All of the sudden it just hit him," said Heather Britton. "We have it under control, he's doing really well, nobody's shocked. Disappointed, but not shocked."

The seizures haven't slowed him down; he's crawling so fast it's tough to keep up with him.

He needs extra help walking because of his balance issues, but his older brother, Alex, who will be a sophomore in high school this year, is more than happy to help.

"I started out by holding him around by his elbows so that he could walk, but it's gotten to the point where he's so strong now, all he has to do is hold my fingers," said Alex Britton. "And he's going faster than I am."

But by now, the Brittons are used to seeing Chase move.

"We just keep expecting it from him and introducing him to new things and giving him new experiences, and he's picking up a little bit from every one of those experiences," said Heather Britton.

Chase will be in a class with several other students with special needs, but he will be spending time with other Kindergartners throughout the day.

His mother says she hopes Chase will benefit from being around other children that are more verbal.

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