Bentley McIntyre, known as “Little B” to those close to him, suffered permanent brain damage when he was shaken by his father just over a year ago.
“He’s in about the seventh percentile for his height and weight,” said his mother, Kaylee Zalsman, 20.
The Grand Haven woman hands the boy a toy after he says “please.” In response to a little prompting, he quietly says “tank you.”
Zalsman picks up her younger son, Brycin, as Bentley walks across the room to check on another toy at the day care run by their friend, Autumn Ames.
“When B gets to day care, everyone runs to the gate and yells ‘B,’ Ames said. “Everyone loves him.”
The road has been long and hard for Zalsman. She was at work the night her young child was injured.
Bentley’s father, Justin McIntyre, had taken over the child’s care when he returned to their Ferrysburg home from work on Aug. 24, 2012. The 6-week-old child was fussing and McIntyre later admitted to shaking the child out of fatigue and frustration.
Justin McIntyre, 23, is serving an 18-month to 10-year prison sentence for second-degree child abuse. His parenting privileges were also removed, Zalsman said.
The earliest the boy’s father can be released from jail is March 23, 2014, Zalsman said.
While Zalsman spent the first few weeks of Bentley’s life trying to juggle child, work and sleep, she said the months after the assault was a nightmare as the child struggled for his life at a Grand Rapids hospital. Once Bentley returned home, he needed constant care and many doctor and therapy visits.
Along the way, Zalsman found out she was pregnant with her second child. The support of her family and friends has been "incredible," she said.
But now, Zalsman is happy to be in her own home with her children, and working a full-time job again.
Doctor visits are down to a minimum for the toddler, although they were just at a checkup last week, said his mother.
“He is already doing everything a 15-month-old would be doing,” Zalsman said.
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