Sam. Conqueror. Overcomer.

On the 15th May 2009, Samuel Christian made his way into this world...two month's premature and in severe respiratory distress. Within hours, Sam was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome - a very rare congenital disorder, of which little was known. The diagnosis together with the immediate challenges Sam faced to thrive became our core focus and it was with joy and thankfulness that we eventually brought Sam home, after nine weeks in the NICU.

As time pressed on, it became obvious that Sam's development was falling behind that of his RTS peers. Shortly before his 5th birthday Sam underwent a brain scan and it was confirmed by a paediatric neurologist that in addition to Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, Sam also has Cerebral Palsy related to his premature birth, as well as Autism.

This blog chronicles our journey through these challenges...
Our world has crashed, been blown apart.
This can't be happening....why us? Why now?
Your fragile life shaken before it could barely start,
How do we get through this...please, Lord, tell us how?

Drowning in our sorrow, waiting for answers that just don't come.
Our baby "special needs"? It simply can't be true!
The heartache overwhelms us, we're left feeling cold and numb.
The diagnosis tells us little - these children are so few.

But then we finallyget to touch you, to see your precious face
And all the heartache and questions fade, replaced with love and pride.
It's obvious from the very start you're showered in God's grace,
And with His love and guidance, we'll take this challenge in stride.

When once we couldn't pronounce it, Rubinstein-Taybi's become our norm.
When once the future seemed dark, we now welcome the journey as having an RTS angel brings lessons in unexpected form.

Our world has crashed, been blown apart!
This IS us.....right now!
We've been blessed with a gift, so precious from the very start. How do we get through this? Here's how.....
By believing in a God, so merciful and great,
By trusting that He's right beside us as we journey through the narrow gate.
By believing His love for us is not determined by a human frame,
By trusting that we draw Him near by merely calling His name. This precious baby we asked God for,
Prayed he'd be perfect and complete.
And, as Samuel means "God hears", He's laid His answer at our feet.

(Nicky de Beer : 27/05/2010)

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Sam turns five this year. Yikes!
Meghan turns thirteen. Double Yikes!
Mom turns.....mmm, let's just not go there!  #fortyphobia

Since pretty much the beginning of Sam's sensory/anxiety issues I have found myself wanting to homeschool Sam. I take great delight in sharing that before the age of three Sam knew all his numbers 1-20, many shapes, letters a-f and more recently can recognise almost 30 different WORDS from his list of signs.  And these words have no pictures or icons, it is simply a list of 200 words from which he can select several simply by scrolling down the list. And it's not the easy's words like caterpillar, swing, sleep, daddy, mommy, grampa! I love how much Sam absorbed whatever I was "teaching" him and how he thrives on a one-on-one setup.

Towards the end of last year I started having second thoughts. Watching Meg enjoy the excitement of the various yearend activities like concerts and grade results, etc. made me a little bit emotional about Sam not ever experiencing those same things.  Suddenly all thoughts of homeschooling had me envisioning a solitary smurf, humped over his i-Pad, robbed of social interaction and, seemingly, life. Accompanied by an equally solitary, hermit-like,  humped-over mother (hers age-related LOL). I thought about the extra, included therapies Sam would benefit from by attending a school for differently-abled children as well as the possibility of me returning to work to try and keep our heads above water financially. 

Also, and perhaps having had the most impact, I recalled someone making a comment on some or other medium implying that homeschooling was effectively saying that you do not believe your child has the potential to thrive.

Yip. Definitely what had me ever-so-slightly mortified.  Simply because I know Sam truly does have potential, huge unimaginable hoards of potential.  And it would be devastating to have him or anyone else believe otherwise. 

And then the holidays happened. Along with a level of anxiety and distress we have never seen before...and we've seen plenty of both. Apart from the change in routine that goes with no school or work (which I've mentioned before) there were other minor things just as baffling. Samuel stopped pulling himself up on the tv unit, which he used to do all the time especially when watching his favourite dvd's. He became impossible to transition from, say, the couch to the floor. He would just turn around and cling to whatever he could grab in absolute fear. Having him so fearful in his own home is saddening.

Remember the story about the time I hung curtains in our bedroom? Try this one on...

As our lounge is a little quaint, putting the Christmas tree up required the moving of some furniture. And by "some" I mean shifting one sofa a total of about 1.5 metres at a 90deg angle. When Grampa returned from a two week visit with his sister and noticed the change in Sam, he asked if it couldn't perhaps be the shifting of the sofa that was unsettling Sam so much. I said "Nah!"

Yesterday morning I moved the lounge back to it's original arrangement. Instant improvement in Sam's behaviour. The fear is not completely gone, but it is better.

The lil smurfy dude just doesn't do well with change. He doesn't do well with unfamiliar. I tried to introduce Sam into the Sunday School class last weekend.  With the classes not having begun yet, the class was very casual with the other kiddies just playing ball or building blocks...nothing particularly exciting. Of course I planned to stay with Sam all the time. Instantly he started gagging. I tried to distract him, which worked for a little while. More gagging. Twice I left the room to try calm him. But eventually it got too much for him and he started vomiting again.

So here's the thing...Sam in a mainstream school It is not a cop out. It is not a surrendering of his potential. It is not an over-emotional grumbling. It is what it is. REALITY. Putting Sam in a mainstream school now would not be for Sam's benefit. It would be for ours...for the sake of our pockets and for the sake of the "normal" expectations instilled in us for our children, for the sake of fitting in, for the sake of a hundred other things except for the sake of our uniquely designed Sam.

Now, the only doubts I have about homeschooling are really about myself. Having no teaching experience, will I be able to adequately educate Sam? I am blessed to have a good friend who is currently homeschooling both her sons and has introduced me to a homeschooling group. Her reassurances that homeschooling by no means deprives a child of social interaction have been validated almost immediately by an arranged group art class tomorrow morning at 10:30 which Sam and I will be attending (hopefully minus v-wording) and an outing for next Thursday to the Fire Department which couldn't come at a better time as Sam has suddenly developed a keen interest in fire engines.  I have every intention of persevering with the Sunday school class as well and can only pray that Sam eventually starts to feel comfortable there. Taking that Meghan took a total of two years and nine months before she enjoyed her first tear-free day in primary school, I am hoping that by the time Sam is 7 we might have a successfully attended Sunday school class!!!

I am excited about our homeschooling journey. I am excited about finding new and creative ways to teach Sam, knowing that I am playing an active role in helping him be all that he can be. I know in my heart it's the right decision for Sam :) What was that I mumbled recently about how changing the path you take doesn't necessarily mean changing the goal xxx

Progress is a nice word, but change is its motivator.
And change has it's enemies.
(Robert Kennedy)

1 comment:

  1. It was my turn to read to the end :) I'm not good with words but endeavour to bring a smile of encouragement ........ and a Hug and for certain a prayer Godspeed