Just like every other loving parent, I HOPE to see my son Samir progressing and beating all odds in this life, despite the appearance of uncertainty.
Samir was born with a myriad of brain defects, a heart murmur, food allergies, Torticollis, and Plagiocephaly. He was hospitalized often and I never got to see him meet any of those fabulous infant milestones. He’s a fighter, and every time a doctor would say “If he doesn’t do X,Y or Z by tomorrow, we’ll have to do _____” …Samir would do X, Y and Z, cancelling the doctors’ doubts!
Samir’s father lives overseas and he expected us to join him, but due to Samir’s medical needs, I didn’t feel that would be best…so it’s been just the two of us for the past 4.5 years.
We were blessed to find Ms. Mary—an elderly lady who lovingly watched him while I traveled for work as a flight attendant. With my career, I was home 21 days a month to juggle all of Samir’s therapies, doctor and specialist visits. At this time, he was mostly just scooting around on his back and trying to sit upright. He also began pulling himself up on things and taking supported steps. Things were looking up for us. I was gaining seniority and pay increases at work, Samir was impressing EVERYONE with his drive and progress, and then BOOM – the pandemic hit.
Ms. Mary, who was high risk for the virus, didn’t feel safe keeping Samir anymore, and I didn’t feel safe sending Samir to school with typically developing children, as he too was ‘high risk’ and they didn’t have proper safety precautions. I was forced to leave my dream career after nearly a decade to stay home with my kiddo.
Samir quickly regressed. He was no longer sitting up, pulling up, or taking any steps. I knew this was due to “virtual” vs. “in-person” therapy, no socialization with children at school, and my own disappointed exhaustion.
I adopted a mini poodle for mental stimulation (we named him “Kodi” which means “Helper” in Hebrew). I started my own virtual Mary Kay business, and actively sought in-person therapy.
One day his speech therapist asked if I’d ever heard of Bryan’s House, because her patient was a student there, and his parents raved about it. “They even have summer programs!” she told me.
I immediately called Bryan’s House and connected with Natasha who kindly answered my questions and put Samir on the waiting list. ‘Waiting list?!’ I thought…not another waiting list. We’ve been added to many waiting lists because Samir doesn’t have an “official” diagnosis and most programs for children with special needs require that…but luckily not at Bryan’s House. I knew it could take up to a year to get Samir a spot, so I prayed for a miracle…and MIRACULOUSLY Natasha called me back that same week with an opening, telling me that Samir could start the fall semester!
Since starting school at Bryan’s House, Samir has become much more aware of his surroundings; he is almost walking on his own (just needs a hand for confidence); he’s pulling up on furniture again, pointing, and non-verbally communicating more than ever! The biggest change I’ve seen in Samir, however, is that for the first time ever, he’s showing love and affection to others besides just his Mama! He’s giving hugs to the teachers and staff (he even tries to give them kisses)!
Above all else, Samir’s love and adoration for his Bryan’s House family tells me that he feels loved and at-home there.
Bryan’s House is more than I HOPED for, and gives me the ASSURANCE that all will be well with Samir.