Dear Mrs Porter,
This is Sam.
You may have seen him around school. You may have heard his name a few times. I'm afraid he may be "that kid" to a few people.
And the truth of the matter is, he earned that title.
See, Sam has been through a lot. I knew he was different when he was 9 months old and instead of crying when frustrated, he would bang his head. Hard. On the wood floors.
I was a nanny for 16 years, but I wasn't prepared for this level of frustration. He would literally hurt himself when trying to communicate. And instead of expressing himself verbally, he would express himself physically. With chaotic, crazy movements. With running, falling, then running again. Flipping himself off the couch. Taking off at full speed for the street.
Hitting. Biting. Pushing.
For a long 2 years, Sam was a runaway train. And we were the screaming passengers trapped aboard- his father, myself, and his sister.
I knew something was wrong. He wasn't talking. At all. 3-4 words where children of his age were speaking sentences.
He was hurting and sad and so frustrated.
I was his mama. And I couldn't fix it.
So we saw his pediatrician. And at 2 years old, Sam began speech therapy.
They said he was too young to be diagnosed. But they felt he had Apraxia. A neurological planing disorder that prevents words from getting from the brain to the mouth.
They said he may never be a big talker.
We were, as a family, rocked to the core. This is my baby. My beloved son. And I couldn't help him. His daddy couldn't fix him. His sister couldn't talk with him.
He was alone and lonely in his silence. And his frustration at not being able to talk grew and grew.
I stayed up at night, kneeling next to his bed. I prayed for God to heal him. But if He couldn't heal him, then to help me help Sammy make his way.
I became his voice- speaking for him. Translating for him.
I vowed that as long as I had breath I would be his voice. I would advocate for him. I would help him to be heard.
He has been in speech for a long time now- almost 2 years. And I can tell you his last year at school was very very hard. He had alot of beahvior issues we were trying really hard to conquer.
Everytime I dropped him off , my stomach would be in knots. I just wanted him to be understood. To be loved. And not to be lonely.
And then, he turned 3, and something magical happened.
There was a dramatic shift in him that can only be explained by God. His found his voice. He found his words.
And we found Sam.
He has opinions on everything from what to have for lunch to what color monster truck we should buy. He chatters constantly about everything under the sun. His words literally never ever stop- from sunup to sundown.
He gives us a headache. He makes us laugh. He makes us cry when he folds his hands and says his prayers.
I can't say he is where he should be. And I can't say you will understand everything he says.
And I also can't promise you you won't ever have to discipline him.
I know he will drive you crazy. He will talk your ear off. He will grab your hand, drag you to what he wants to show you, and spend 30 minutes telling you all about it.
I look at him and wish he would give me one blessed minute of silence at least 10 times a day. You will too, I'm sure.
And then I remember. That lost, sad little boy he was just a year ago. The one trapped in his own mind and his own body. The one bursting with things to say...and no way to say it. No one to say it to that would understand. Not even me.
I remember this day. We were on our first day of vacation. I followed him, trailing his steps as I always did, just trying to keep him from harm. He tried to tell me something I didn't understand. Then he gave up and walked to the water, alone. He just stood there, looking.
I took this picture between sobs.
I remember this day everytime I want to tell him to hush.
Every single word he says is precious to us. Every syllable has been fought for and prayed for and earned.
I don't ask that you take extra time with him. I'm not asking for him to be your favorite, or for him to be treated special.
All I want is for him to be understood. And to be loved past his slowly diminishing limitations. For a patient heart willing to see this little boy that has fought so hard to be heard.
This is Sam. My beautiful, kind, mischevious, loving and chatty son. I hope you love him just as much I do.