Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Child Celebrated, But Autism Hits Home


The Freeman’s Journal
Nick, Anne and baby Sam after the Saturday, April 29, Autism Walk at Glimmerglass State Park.

You may remember her as that super-efficient former waitress at the Doubleday Cafe.  Or as the Rev. Sundar Samuel’s daughter.
But, now Anne Steinbuck, she was back in town from Clifton Park the other day for a very special purpose:  to join the Autism Walk Saturday, April 30, at Glimmerglass State Park.
She was walking for Sam’s Team, Sam being Samuel Nicholas Steinbuck, first grandson of the Cooperstown Methodist Church pastor and his wife, Deborah, a lively lad who was exploring the parsonage porch the other day while the adults talked.
Lively, but quiet.  And that began worrying Anne and her husband, Nick, when the toddler reached 15 months.  “He was diagnosed as being in ‘the spectrum’” of autism, his mother said.
The Steinbucks knew little about autism, an umbrella term that covers a range of disorders from severe to, in Sam’s case, mild.
Eventually, he is expected to talk.  Meanwhile, Early Intervention Services in Saratoga County, where the family lives, is sending specialists to their home three times a week to have Sam go through exercises to help him socialize with other youngsters.  Among other things, he’s learning signing.
While most of us are familiar with the term “hypersensitive,” Sam is the opposite – “hyposensitive.”  Rather than being overstimulated by experiences, he tends to underreact.
On the porch the other day, the boy, playing with a pinwheel, stuck the stick sharply on the roof of his mouth.  Most children would have screamed, but Sam took it without a murmur.
Anne was raised in Bainbridge, where her father was a pastor before moving here seven years ago.  She attended Clarkson and SUNY Oneonta, studying biology, then business and history, and is now a manager at a CVS.  Nick, raised in Andes, attended SUNY Delhi and studied auto mechanics at Lincoln Tech in Mahwah, N.J.  He works at Lia Infiniti, Latham.
The couple began researching autism, and learned about an Autism Walk in the Capitol District, which they attended.  They hadn’t even heard of the local Autism Walk, but when they did they formed the local team with the help of her parents.
“We were initially sad about the whole thing,” said Mrs. Samuel, “and sad for these young people as parents.”
But the whole process of putting together a team raised awareness locally and within the local congregation about the disease.
“We kill two birds with one stone,” Anne observed.  “We walked, and we visited my parents for the weekend.”
And, Sam’s Team raised $1,700 for autism research.

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