"This is a book I will pick up over and over to take me back to the passions of childhood and that wisdom inside. Don't miss it." Robert A.
Naseef, Ph.D., author of Special Children, Challenged Parents; co-editor Voices from the Spectrum
When his grandson was born, Daniel Gottlieb began to write a series of heartfelt letters that he hoped Sam would read later in lifethese letters
culminated in the book Letters to Sam, which has been translated into 15 languages, with more than 50,000 copies sold in the U.S.
Now, The Wisdom of Sam: Observations on Life from an Uncommon Child
continues the extraordinary story of the interaction between a grandfather who is quadriplegic and a grandson who is autistic, as they share their discoveries
about empathy, compassion, courage, happiness, and the power of laughter.
The Wisdom of Sam is available anywhere books are sold.
After a near-fatal accident rendered him paralyzed, Daniel came to understand the importance of patience, acceptance, gratitude, and hopequalities he
sought to teach his young grandson, Sam. Yet when Daniel least expected it, their roles reversed and the student became the teacher.
All of our children have something of critical importance to teach us, but are we able to be their students? I believe we
do have that capacity, if we respect their wisdom.
Sam's observations on his experiences provide simple yet profound lessons on life, death, courage, fun, uncertainty, and joy.
These lessons are gentle reminders of what we once knew, what we often take for granted, and what matters most.
In Letters to Sam, I told the story of how each of us got an indentation on the upper lip before we were born. As
the story goes, God whispered all the secrets that we need to know in order to live our lives. Then he, or she, said
"Sssshhhhhhh" and pressed a finger to our upper lip.
Those are the secrets that Sam and all of us were born with. We know them, but that knowledge can be easily lost. In
many respects, children are more honest than adults, because they are not yet influenced by expectations of teachers, peers,
and the larger world. So what they say is their truth, and what they see is more clear than what we see.
As Sam's grandfather, I see him as a child who is different from other children. His character is uniquely his
own. Sam is loving and engaging. He has eyes as big as the moon that seem to be asking questions even when his lips
don't move. When Sam does say what he thinks, he speaks without editing himself, often expressing thoughts that are
surprisingly kind and considerate and often remarkably insightful. He remembers rules and is quick to remind me
of them—especially when I'm not following them! The Sam I know, and love, often can't differentiate between
appropriate and not-appropriate timing for these reminders, but if his confusion makes him stumble a bit socially, to
me that's all the more endearing.
But for all his uniqueness, Sam has many traits in common with children who see the world differently
than many of us. Now that Sam is talking to me about the world, there are numerous times when I'm aware he actually
sees it more clearly than his parents or I do. How can this be explained? Often these children are not influenced by
context. The positive side of this is that they can see things we miss—the texture of a paper with an important message,
the exact words someone used at a critical moment, or the colors of the sunset when everyone else is rushing around.
But this clear and narrow focus is also one of the reasons their social skills are often so poor. They cannot absorb all
of the social cues in the environment. For example, Sam would be comfortable going up to a group of peers and
trying to engage them. But he wouldn't be aware that they were already having a conversation, so he would just begin
saying whatever he wanted to say. And then he wouldn't be able to notice that the kids might be uninterested. Sam's
focus would be exclusively on the story.
Sam has improved dramatically since his initial diagnosis, but he still has that clear-minded perception.
And because Sam is doing so well, he is able to talk about his inner experience.
But . . . is he really wise? Can a seven- or eight-year-old teach us anything truly important?
These were some of the questions that led to the writing of this book. If I have accomplished my mission, this book is
not only an introduction to Sam's world seen through Sam's eyes; it is also a reminder of the things we once knew and
might otherwise have forever forgotten.
The deep emotional connection between "Pop" and Sam serves as a springboard for wonderful moments of reflection, understanding, and humor.
Touching memories from Daniel's personal and professional life as a family therapist are peppered with keen, candid observations from Sam's vantage
point. Readers of all ages will be inspired.
"Another beautiful volume from one of the few inspirational writers who has actually walked the walk and not just talked
the talk. Gottlieb is a national treasure."
Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology, Harvard University; author of Stumbling on Happiness
"The book can be read at many levels, from a description of autism in a child and quadriplegia in a mature adult, to a
philosophical understanding of the meaning of life. I really enjoyed reading the words of wisdom in The Wisdom of Sam."
Tony Attwood, author of The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome
"In the imagination, important things are big achievements in the past or future. In life as it is experienced, important things are small, present,
and moment to moment. This beautiful book is a meditation about those small and yet important moments. As you read it, you will find
yourself settling down, breathing in, and opening up to your own life. Consider it a gift to your heart."
Steven C. Hayes, University of Nevada; author of Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life
All of Daniel's royalties are being donated to children's charities.