In just three months, Sam VanAlstyne wrote and published her first book called “Hi, I’m Sam.”

Her 7-year-old niece and nephew, Emma and Aidan, were the inspiration. Last October, the twins visited their Aunt Sam at her group home in Hudson.

“One said, ‘Auntie Sam ... how come you live here and not with grandpa?’ And that launched a conversation of, ‘Well, Auntie Sam is in a wheelchair, and I’m disabled,’ and what that means. And it just kind of hatched into an idea,” said VanAlstyne.

What You Need To Know

  • Sam VanAlstyne’s first published book, “Hi, I’m Sam,” came out in January

  • The book was inspired by her inquisitive niece and nephew

  • She hopes parents will educate themselves on cerebral palsy and other disabilities, and have conversations about it with their children

That sparked an idea to write a children’s book about cerebral palsy (CP).

“It’s got a message in it that you can do anything you can set your mind to, and we’re not all so different,“ said VanAlstyne.

VanAlstyne has a clear message: Take the time to understand what CP is, and talk to your kids about disabilities.

“Typically, people, if they think of cerebral palsy at all, they assume we're all very low functioning, which we're not. It’s a spectrum,” said VanAlstyne.

VanAlstyne is no stranger to answering questions, which are often intrusive ones. She says more representation for and of people with disabilities is needed.

“I’ve often explained the concept of being disabled as akin to being left-handed, because we live in a world for right-handed people, as we do for able-bodied people. There are accommodations, but they are few and far between, and we have to fight for them,” said VanAlstyne.

It took VanAlstyne only 10 minutes to write the book. Her cousin did the illustrations. Last month, VanAlstyne's dream of becoming a published author came true.

“I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I could form sentences,” said VanAlstyne.

The book came out January 16, the eight-year anniversary of her mother’s death. VanAlstyne says her mom always taught her there’s nothing she can’t do.

“Hi, I’m Sam” is for sale at the Chatham Bookstore, and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.