Meeting Sam

The middle of October of 2009 started my first day of volunteering at W Elementary. I wanted to do something productive with my life. I felt like I needed to help somehow. It was a pretty big gamble, however. I told the volunteer coordinator to put me at W Elementary but after that, I told her to put me where I was needed most. It was supposed to be a weekly ordeal. I would go in every Friday, starting out with early childhood special education, then to Mrs. B’s kindergarten class, and lastly, to Mrs. W’s special education class. Somehow the weekly thing didn’t work out for me. I loved it so much that I was there four times a week. I remember getting looks of confusion from the teachers when they asked why I was volunteering. “Because I want to” seemed like a valid reason to me!

My first time to Mrs. W’s class, I was nervous. I had never worked in a special education classroom before. I had no idea what to expect. I walked in and discovered a lot of adults there and I walked up to the nearest one, looking very confused. She introduced herself as Mrs. C, and she was the mother of one of the kids in the class, Sam. He had autism. She introduced me to him and I started working with him on the computer. I had a blast and I couldn’t wait to do it again. Patience wasn’t even a problem. Normally, I’m highly impatient. When I was with Sam, though, or any of the other kids, I had all the patience in the world. I didn’t ever get impatient with them.

However, the next week I was there, excited and ready to work, she told me something I found very confusing. “You’re back!” She said it with so much surprise. Why wouldn’t I be back? I thought. I had committed myself to volunteering. Why would I just quit? It made me feel like people had given up on Sam. It gave me more determination to help.

I had a great time working with Sam. We did all kinds of things: worked on handwriting, number recognition and typing on the computer. I learned that being a softy doesn’t always get the message across. Saying “No, Sam,” didn’t work. Instead, I had to say, “NO SAM!” After that, there was the issue of the corner. When one of the kids got disrespectful or defiant they got sent to the corner for a time-out. I couldn’t do that to Sam. The few times it did happen to him, I felt like doing it for him. Being hard continues to be my biggest weakness.

His mom was equally special to me. I saw little of her, but when I did see her, she always waved to me and asked how I was doing. There was an aura about her that was warm and kind. She even gave me a Christmas gift. Her remembering me made me feel like jumping for joy.

It is now the end of February and last week Mrs. W told me that Sam’s family is moving. He had one more week at W Elementary. It didn’t sink in until the next day. I woke up on Saturday morning and thought, that had to be a dream. Sam’s not moving! Unfortunately, it was true. I cried that night and wondered, Why? Why is this happening? I am finally blessed with something wonderful in my life and it’s being snatched away! The thought of not seeing them anymore broke my heart. I thought of never going back to Mrs. W’s class ever again. It wouldn’t be the same without Sam. But while I was crying, another thought came to me: What is this crying going to solve? Mrs. C wouldn’t like it. And it isn’t helping anything. Instead, I looked to the positives. I could take what I learned from Sam and use it to help the other kids. Things happen for a reason. I think Sam and Mrs. C entered my life not only to boost my self-confidence but also for me to realize that I am valuable human being and can do anything I set my mind to.





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Clairemaims said...
Apr. 8, 2010 at 10:16 am
I understand working with kids with autism it is hard when they leave or grow up.
 
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