“He helps her with homework and making her lunch. When she has seizures, he doesn’t panic. He’s very kind in the sense that if he knows the answer, he’ll say ‘Let’s figure it out together.’” So says the fourth grade teacher of Marcus Devoy, an Arizona fourth grader. Marcus is a role model for others, including his football teammates, as he helps his older sister, Jade, who has epilepsy and an intellectual disability.
Jade and Marcus’ parents are not only helping their children achieve and grow as responsible adults, but they, too, are educating people around them. The school system appears to be responsive as well. Their story implies that Jade is accepted and supported in her Tucson, Arizona school.
Contrast this story with one about a 21-year old with autism and behavioral difficulties in limbo at Manchester Hospital in Connecticut. His family, no longer able to cope, left him at the facility. The reporter states, “The young man was first dropped off at the hospital on July 28 and has been in the hospital since then, except for a 10-day period in which his family took him home…[as] the young man had been aggressive toward his parents and brother.” As the article cited here was printed last week, the young man was transferred to a home at least for the time being.
This is our world in 2017: people struggling to cope without adequate personal or public resources, while others facing different circumstances are able to achieve. There are personal and family attributes which can weigh in heavily. But there is also the need for public assistance in a fast changing world where housing, health care, and staff assistance could pose steep difficulties for most families.
While we hope and wait for a Department of Developmental Services supplemental budget for additional public assistance, we hope for a kinder 2018 overall. In 2017, a large portion of the general public continued to be weary of government programs and the federal tax cut will place more strain on state resources.
Maybe this upcoming year, others can imitate Marcus: “Other kids should be kind because when you say something mean to a person, it gets them down.” His advice applies equally to adults, not only in our acceptance of differences, but in responding to common human needs.
Let’s toast to a kind 2018!
Leo V. Sarkissian