Embracing New Shoes with Sam


This will be Sam’s third year at ABC. Sam was in home day care until he reached age 2. We put him in a preschool at a church where our other children have attended and thrived in the past. His teacher loved him and could tell he needed some extra attention. We knew early on that Sam had some developmental delays and were utilizing First Steps therapies in our home for Occupational, Speech and Physical therapy. Sam was mostly non-verbal for the first year and didn’t even ask for mommy or daddy by name. He didn’t walk until he was almost 2, didn’t get any teeth until he was 14 months old, was and still is a very picky eater, and continues to be small on the growth chart. He used to have meltdowns frequently when presented with too much stimuli or in unfamiliar territory. In public, he used to insist on being carried everywhere until he was almost 5. He used to have to wear his “coat” anytime we traveled in the car, regardless of whether it was 90 degrees outside or not because he felt “safe” with it on. Trying anything new, I used to be very stressed and sometimes cry in private when I couldn’t get him to do a simple thing like wear a new pair of shoes or shirt because the others simply needed to be thrown in the trash. He would not get in the swimming pool, and the idea of potty training was out-of-the question for years. Also he would not walk in the grass, even with shoes on. The director at his preschool had worked with kids on the spectrum previously and suggested perhaps we have him tested. We did this through our local public school system and implemented an IEP for when Sam was to attend Pre-K there for one year. His teacher was amazing, but it still wasn’t enough. The ratio of provider to student was 1 to 14 in that class. He cried when I took him to school every morning. It broke my heart.

Sam’s strengths that have blossomed as he began to use his words include a vast knowledge of geography. He knows all the states and capitals, countries and capitals, oceans, continents, planets, and even better is that he can recite them in alphabetical order if you request him too. With the use of his I-pad, he has self-taught the alphabet in Russian, as well as the names of many animals. He started reading at age 3 straight from his books. He loves learning about nature, animals, plants and flowers. He also draws things and can free hand any map accurately just by looking at it.

ABC and its fabulous staff members have become family to us. We have watched the progress he has made over time and we have all celebrated together in sharing his milestones! Over the past year, Sam doesn’t complain at the idea of new shoes, but embraces it. He doesn’t need the “coat” anymore when it’s not indicated. He’s learning to try new foods through the nutrition program at ABC. He’s potty trained with just a few accidents here and there, loves the swimming pool, doesn’t mind the grass, and uses his words to communicate interactively with people now, such as initiating a question and responding appropriately rather than just rote memorization and spewing of facts. He’s trying new things! Last summer, through the Easter Seals we learned about “Camp Ability” where he was able to attend with one of his therapists for 2 weeks of day camp. He rode a horse at Morning Dove stables in Zionsville for equine therapy among many other activities alongside other children with some special needs similar to his. He attended again this year and we couldn’t be happier that he had such a great time there. He’s been participating in weekly swim therapy/lessons through ABC all year. This month, he can get into the pool with his floaty on by himself, where last year he was still terrified. He’s a pretty special little guy that makes us smile every day with his determination. He’s also very affectionate and enjoys hi-fives and hugs. We are grateful that we are enrolled at ABC. And thanks to everyone and their support, Sam was promoted this week out of the Early Learning Center to the next level at the North Building. He is 6 years old and we are very proud of him!

-Beth Ann Cook, Mother of Sam age 6

Interested in learning more about what we can do for your child?  Contact Jane Grimes, Enrollment Director, at 317-849-KIDS, Ext. 104.

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