Several years ago, Stacy realized Jason needed more support than she was able to provide on her own. He was already receiving counseling services and attending a school designed to cater to the specific educational needs required by his Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. In spite of these provisions, he had failed the last two years of school. As Jason started to move into his teenage years, Stacy said, “He was getting more and more defiant...Jason’s getting a lot bigger. There’s no male around here. I can’t do this by myself. And with his other problems [Asperger’s] I really couldn’t manage it all by myself. I was praying and praying and praying...” Even though Stacy had invested all of her time and resources, she had reached the limit of her capabilities. Stacy recognized that it was time to place Jason in residential care outside of her home in order to best help him and provide him with new opportunities. As she searched for facilities, she did not want to place him in a hospital environment, or a dormitory where he would feel discarded. She faithfully prayed, “God, I want some place that feels like a home for him.” She feels very blessed to have found Heritage Ranch and believes it is God’s answer to her prayer.
Jason moved to Heritage Ranch in August 2015, and according to Stacy, “He has told me this is where God wants me. He feels like he is living in a home.” Being an only child raised by his NaNa, this was a huge transition for him. He currently lives in a home with a husband and wife couple, four other boys, and attends the local public school where he is on track to pass this school year. When Jason arrived at the Ranch, he had very limited ability to interact with other children. When asked what has been the most beneficial part of the Ranch for Jason, Stacy says, “Interacting with so many other people on a personal level.” Before arriving at the Ranch, “He didn’t know how to use bathroom space or how to stay out of someone else’s way when they were really upset. He didn’t have any of those kinds o f social skills to work with.”
Jason has made a lot of progress in his first 6 months at Heritage Ranch. According to Stacy, “When he gets upset, he can calm himself down and back up from it and restart again. He is learning to adjust himself back to where he needs to be and start again and he’s more respectful to me.” Even though it is still a struggle, the new found respect Jason has for Stacy makes it possible for them to get more accomplished with each other in every area of life. Everything doesn’t turn into a disagreement or argument when they spend time together. Stacy has hope today and is looking forward to Jason’s future possibilities. She hopes Jason becomes a more self-sufficient young man as he continues to grow during his stay at the Ranch.
Jason realizes that Heritage Ranch is where he needs to live at this time in his life. He says, “Before I came here it was me overthrowing authority in some ways, like I [would] disagree [with my NaNa] and we would fight back and forth until I went to bed.” Living at the Ranch has been an adjustment for Jason. He thinks it’s fun to have brothers now, but he says, “It’s been tough getting to deal with one another; we each have our own problems.”
He describes the Ranch as a beautiful place to live, “It’s basically like living at home away from home, and it’s sort of a roller coaster...I’m okay with it. I never have had brothers, so this has been a very different experience and it’s just fun. This place has made me happier, and at times sadder but mostly happier. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in.”
Jason is doing better in school than he has in the past. He is on track to pass the 6th grade this year, after failing the last two years. He works weekly with a tutor and the houseparents help him with his homework, as well. When asked to describe why he is passing, he says, “I’ve learned to stick with the right attitude and have a good day. That it is all my choice. If I have a good day at school they say good job and encourage me. That’s what Mr. Brian and Ms. Brenda will do, they encourage us to have a good day.”
On his weekends home, Jason enjoys the time he spends with his NaNa but he says, “There’s another thing that happened at my home, something changed.” His NaNa has new rules that he must follow when he is home on the weekend. He is learning he doesn’t have to always agree with the rules but to respect his NaNa and “try to stick by them.” Jason believes that living at the Ranch will give him hope for his future. He hopes to join the military one day and possibly become a General.