At Cross Keys Middle School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, a day is not complete without a high-five, fist bump or thumbs up from Jason Minor. As the eighth-grader navigates the halls at the school, he distributes the greetings generously to both staff and peers. Jason has been receiving SSD services in the essential skills program since kindergarten and has shown tremendous growth in all areas including communication, fine motor skills, academics and community involvement.
Jason is minimally verbal and uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device to do much of his communicating. He works closely with his teachers and speech-language pathologist whenever he is unsure of how to say what he wants to say. Likewise, his perseverance is always on display as he works on his physical and motor skills throughout the day. He loves to write—even working on his handwriting lessons independently. But one of his biggest goals in this area is his new ability to tie his shoes on his own, thus giving him a new level of independence.
Jason also works at least an hour each day on vocational training. He keeps things running smoothly at Cross Keys Middle as he helps sort the mail into teacher mailboxes, loads paper into copy machines, helps tidy the hallways and school grounds, delivers packages and helps out in the library. As he works throughout the building, he practices his other skills along the way.
Despite his big presence at school, Jason’s most lasting impact may turn out to be what he has helped build within his community. In 2016, Jason and his family started working with the Special Needs Tracking and Awareness Response System (STARS) program at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital to help raise awareness and educate first responders in his community about interactions with individuals with special needs. Jason and his family have made connections with all divisions of first responders in the Florissant community. They hope that these connections will help make an impact on the community’s perception of youth with disabilities as well as create a safer and more fruitful standard of interaction among first responders and all members of the community.