As many people know, writing a book is a huge accomplishment – and one that many people wish to achieve throughout their lifetime. For Samantha VanAlstyne (“Sam”), a 25-year-old who initially hailed from Chatham, New York, this dream recently became a reality. According to Star Revue, Sam wrote and published a children’s book called Hi, I’m Sam. The book explores Sam’s experience with cerebral palsy (CP), raises awareness about CP and builds community, and offers a route to self-acceptance for readers.
“Hi, I’m Sam”
Five years ago, Sam moved out of Chatham and moved into Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health New York, where she also receives services. Sam is happy with her move, believing that the team at Devereux has improved her independence and self-confidence. However, not everyone understood why Sam lived at Devereux instead of with her family. For example, her 7-year-old niece questioned why she was not at home with her father.
Through this, Sam developed a method for raising awareness and teaching others about CP. In addition to raising awareness, she was also excited about the prospect of writing a book. Throughout her life, Sam has always been drawn to literature, even still reading or listening to 2-3 books each month.
Altogether, the book took her over 4 months to write, culminating in January 2021. During the writing process, Sam balanced her psychology courses from Hudson Valley Community College with independent research on self-publication, book design, and illustrations (which her cousin Tessa helped with). On her website, the book’s synopsis reads:
Meet Sam, a young woman who is a little different than most. But that’s okay! Come along on this journey of learning about who you are and that with the right attitude and a little help from those you love anything is possible.
So far, Sam has sold approximately 300 copies of Hi, I’m Sam. The best part? She has seen her book mobilize a community and spark conversations and acceptance.
Interested in supporting Sam on her journey? You can find Hi, I’m Sam listed on Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble. However, if you’d like to support Sam directly, consider purchasing an author-signed copy of the book below!
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
While many may think of cerebral palsy (CP) as a singular neurological movement disorder, CP actually consists of a group of movement disorders which affect muscle control and coordination, balance, and posture. Altogether, CP results from damage to the developing brain, often before birth or within the first 2 years following birth. Potential reasons for damage include maternal or fetal strokes, genetic mutations, infant infections, or traumatic head injury. The effects of CP vary greatly between individuals. Signs and symptoms usually manifest in infancy or early childhood. These include:
- Muscle rigidity or spasticity
- Weakness in one side of the body / favoring one side of the body
- Developmental and motor delays
- Variations in muscle tone (too stiff or too “floppy”)
- Urinary incontinence
- Athetosis (slow, writhing movements)
- Excessive drooling
- Vision and/or hearing difficulties
- Involuntary movements
- Intellectual disabilities
- Difficulty walking, swallowing, sucking, eating, and speaking