My Brother Samuel

( Intermediate Level )

My brother Samuel often received stares from others when we were out in public. People concluded there was something different about him and shied away.

Many made the assumption that mom must have used alcohol or drugs when she was pregnant with him. This is not the case at all. Sam was born with an intellectual disability.

In the past, this was dubbed mental retardation, bringing much hurtful slang towards the ones with these disabilities. These slangs upset my mom terribly.

My son is just like all others” she argued. “He laughs. plays and does everything your child does. It may take him a little longer to understand but he eventually does.”

I always protected my brother when we were at school. We were 3 grades apart from one another and thankfully, we are at the same school. He always knew where to look for me after school . We would meet up and walk home together.

Some days he would have to wait for me. I was the editor of the school’s newspaper and sometimes we had a short meeting after school. He never minded. He always found something to keep him busy as he waited.

As the school year pressed on, Samuel was more quiet than usual. He was never really quiet around me as he was with strangers. I chuckled somedays as he chattered on about his day . It was hard to keep up with what he was talking about.

“Hey Sam, why are you so quiet? Something bothering you? I asked. Samuel looked up at him “No.” I knew this was not true. Something was. In his own time he would tell me.

I guess a week or so had passed and Samuel wasn’t waiting for me in his usual spot after school. I waited for a few minutes and began to look for him.

I asked a few teachers, when I passed them in the hall, “Have you seen my brother?” and each resounded a “No, they hadn’t.

It was the last place I looked where I found him. He was huddled up next to the bleachers in the gym. He was covering his head and you could hear him sobbing.

I yelled out, “Sam, what’s wrong?” He looked up at me and you could see a mark on his face which obviously looked as if he was hit. Tears running down his cheeks.

A bunch of boys kept pushing me around and calling me a retard. I tried to leave but they kept following me. I came in here and one hit me.” I was so angry at this point. I helped him to his feet and wiped off his face. His brother looked at him, ” Am I a …retard?”

“Don’t be silly Sam. You are you. Things in life are a little more difficult for you and may take you longer to do but you are not a retard. Now let’s go home.”

The brothers arrived home and explained everything to their mother. Of course she immediately called the school to alert them on what happened to her son.

A couple of weeks had passed and Samuel was back to himself. The school authorities suspended the students for the rest of the school year for what they did to my brother. I was happy the school took this step towards this type of bullying but I wanted others to know what I felt.

I had asked the principal if I could publish an article, in our school newspaper, regarding this incident. He agreed to allow as long as he approved the contents before it went to publication.

I began writing right away and finished so it could go out in our monthly newspaper. I immediately took it to our principal for him to read the next day.

I knocked on his door and entered. “I have finished my article. Can you read it over so I can make sure it gets published?”

He handed his heartfelt article to the principal and he began to read.

Dear Readers,

Most of you know who my brother Samuel is but do you know him? Have you ever stopped to say hello or have a conversation with him?

Let me tell you about my brother Sam. He is the kindest person I know. He finds good in everything and has the purest heart. If he is capable he would do anything for you.

He has an innocence about him that many do not have. He never judges anyone nor says anything bad about anyone. This is more than I can say about most, including myself.

When my brother was born, I was three, I had no idea of his disability nor do I really see one now. He is my brother. We had our fights growing up but we also shared secrets.

We enjoy playing sports and watching scary movies on TV, even though Mom gets mad at us because we do not go to sleep afterwards.

Does any of this sound different from you?

No.

I do not want to go into details but when Samuel was tormented and hurt by fellow classmates it saddened me more than it made me mad. How could a person do this to another? How could they do this without really knowing Samuel?

Next time you happen to pass my brother in the hallway, why don’t you say hello to him. Get to know him. You will discover what I have about him. He is the best person I know and has taught me a lot. I am proud he is my brother.

Editor / Samuel’s brother

Caleb

The principal finished the article and handed it back to Caleb. “You did a wonderful job with this. Absolutely, send this to print.”

The newspaper came out and Caleb took two copies home with him. He shared one with his Mom and the other with Samuel. He knew Samuel wouldn’t be able to read it so he read the article to him.

As Caleb finished the article and looked up, Samuel leaned in with a bear hug. “I love you too!”

Written by: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Is this behavior due to the lack of understanding? Who is to blame for such actions? Is it the parents? The education system?

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Vocabulary:

stares – noun: a long fixed look at someone or something

assumption – noun: accepted as true without proof

concluded – verb: arrive at a judgement

shied – verb: avoid

intellectual disability – noun: limits to a person’s ability to learn at an expected level and function in daily life

dubbed – verb: to give an unofficial name or nickname

slang – noun: very informal words or language used mostly by the younger generation

pressed on – phrasal verb: to continue moving forward in a forceful or steady way 

chuckled – verb: laugh quietly

chattered – verb: rapid talking

resounded – verb: echo

huddled up – adjective: to sit in a bent position with your arms and legs close to your body

bleachers – noun: bench seat at a sports arena or gym

sobbing – noun: noisy crying

suspended – verb: to stop someone from going to school whether temporarily or permanently

publication – noun: the act of making an article available for others to read

heartfelt – adjective: sincere

innocence – noun: being innocent

tormented – adjective: physical or mental suffering

bear hug – noun: tight embrace

Question ( s ):

Do you find yourself staring at someone who looks different? Maybe dressed differently or in a wheelchair?

Why do you think we do this?

Twins

( Intermediate Level )

As many twins often do, Susie and Sally grew up enjoying each other’s company. They explored and discovered the world around them, inseparable.

Mothers, always, enjoy dressing their identical twins the same. This would usually confuse others, but somehow, parents always knew who was who.

In Susie’s and Sally’s case it was rather easy. Sally is outspoken and would take risks. Sometimes doing something that her parents would not approve of.

As for Susie, she is the shy one. When it came to developing early skills, her sister was first. Sally was the first to roll over, take her first steps, and say her first words.

This concerned their parents. The doctors, always, reassured them this was normal, and comparing the girls is not a good strategy. “Both Suzie and Sally are perfectly normal, healthy little girls, and will do things at their own time,” they would tell her.

Regardless of what the doctors said, the differences between the girls concerned their mom. She would constantly say to Susie, “Why can’t you be like your sister?” Susie never really understood what her mom meant by this.

As the girls grew older and started school, the differences between the girls grew more obvious. Sally excelled at everything, whereas Suzie struggled. Suzie, eventually, would catch on. It would just take her a little longer.

The close, inseparable, relationship between the sisters faded. Suzie had always felt she was in Sally’s shadow. She never felt she was good enough.

Suzie never understood why she wasn’t like Sally. Her parents always praised Sally. She had all the friends at school and learning was easy for her.

Suzie withdrew, more and more, into her own little world she created. Where she didn’t have to listen to the criticisms from her family. She knew she was smart. Things just took her a little longer to learn.

Suzie’s teacher had noticed the change in her. She was not as focused in school as she once had been. She asked her to stay after class to see if she could find out the reason why this change has happened.

The class was over and Suzie sat quietly at her desk. She had no idea why her teacher had asked her to stay after class. She couldn’t be in trouble, or so she hoped. Her teacher approached her desk and sat down next to her at a desk beside her.

“Suzie, I asked you to stay after class, not because you are in trouble. I have noticed a change in you. You are much quieter and do not participate like you used to. Is there something I can do to help? Is someone bothering you?”

Suzie looked up at her teacher and began to speak, with sadness in her eyes, “I am not like my sister. Everything is so easy for her. She gets good grades and has lots of friends. I am not like her but I wish I was.”

Suzie’s teacher sat for a moment, trying to find the right words to say. She looked into Suzie’s face, as she spoke. She knew this was a huge burden for Suzie.

“Suzie, we are created differently. You look identical to your sister but you are unique in your own way. We learn in different ways. Your sister finds it easy to learn from books. You, on the other hand, need visual cues to learn. You need images, graphs, illustrations, and colors. I noticed this when you became my student. You are a visual learner. You are just as smart as your sister. Always remember this. Just say these words to me or any future teachers – show me . We will understand.”

Suzie smiled and hugged her teacher. She left the classroom and headed home. Her sister had, already, headed towards home. She had heard Suzie had to stay after class to talk with her teacher.

As Suzie walked home, by herself, she continued to smile. Her teacher made her feel good about herself. She was happy her teacher had asked her to stay after class and she wasn’t in trouble.

Now, she knows she is not different and she is smart. She is just as smart as others, including her sister. She just has a unique way of learning. She began to run the rest of the way home wanting to tell her mom what her teacher had said. “Show me.” The two little words that will change everything for her.

Written by: Angel

“I, too, am visual learner, like Suzie. I had the privilege, in high school, to have teachers who used visuals aids in their everyday teaching styles. Now, as an ESL teacher, I use visual aids, in my teaching style. From facial expressions, to running around the classroom, to drawing stick figures on the whiteboard. A huge thank you to all the teachers, in the world ,who make a difference in a student’s life” – Angel

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Vocabulary:

inseparable – adjective: always together

identical – adjective: similar or exactly alike in appearance

outspoken adjective: direct and open opinion

reassured – verb: remove doubts or fears 

excelled – verb : exceptionally good 

catch on -phrasal verb: understand what or how

praised -verb: individuals respect or gratitude

withdrew -verb: leave a place or situation

criticism – noun: disapproval of someone or something

focused- verb: pay particular attention 

approached– verb: come near

participate -verb: take part in an action

created – verb: bring (something) into existence

unique – adjective: one of a kind

Question( s ):

Did you every have a teacher, like Suzie’s, to care and encourage you?

Did you have a unique way to help you study? (example: visuals, songs or word association)