Remembering Jason & What He Taught Us
Jason was just 14-years-old when he died.
Although his death was tragic – his life taught us lessons that will help us support others who are experiencing similar obstacles in their lives.
First, Jason did not die because he was adopted or had been in the foster care system – he died because he was in poor physical health and his behaviors contributed to his death. I have met countless families who have had children struggle through childhood and young adulthood but are now, for the most part, living productive lives as happy, healthy adults.
Second, early intervention is the key to providing children like Jason with a “second” chance at life – providing them with a new beginning. However, early intervention cannot begin with just one person – school systems, therapists, foster parents, and society as a whole need to accept that although initially costly, early intervention strategies and structures can help an entire population of our community that is often misunderstood – children who struggle with these obstacles and those who support them.
Third, just because a child exhibits strange, violent, or uncompassionate behavior does not mean they are innately “bad” – rather, that they need the support and services to help them achieve more advanced social, emotional, and behavioral skills. In fact, these children can be extremely compassionate. Jason often exhibited behaviors at home that were contrary to those experienced by others in public. One day, a friend of mine and her husband (who has vision problems) were carefully making their way down our slippery driveway in a snowstorm. I learned later that Jason appeared beside them and, offering his arm for support said, “I feel like a walk – will you both hold my arms and we’ll walk down the hill together?”
Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson Jason taught us, was that these struggles are not easy to deal with on your own. Whether you are the child who is suffering from the lasting effects of early trauma, a family member trying to support such a child, or an educator/professional trying to provide guidance and assistance to the child and family, the best approach is to reach out for professional help, guidance, and support.
In loving memory of Jason,
Dot & the Hayes Family