Developmental Disabilities | St. Louis Public Radio

Developmental Disabilities

St. Louis resident Megan Vitale and her nine-year-old daughter Sophia, who has cerebral palsy, participated in the Ride to Unite event on September 1, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

When Erika Wolf was young, she loved riding her bike.

But when she was 11, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa — a rare genetic disorder that causes a person to lose their vision over time.

Wolf is now blind, but she hasn’t stopped cycling. This is her second year riding a tandem bike in “Ride to Unite,” an annual event that pairs champion cyclists racing in the Gateway Cup with riders who have disabilities. The goal, say organizers, is to help make cycling a more inclusive sport.

Jen Kerner plays a Bird Girl in Christ Memorial's 2016 production of Seussical.
Cindy Tiefenbrunn

St. Louis actor Jen Kerner has played dozens of characters, but in recent years she’s taken on a new role: making the theater experience enjoyable for people who are overwhelmed by loud sounds and bright lights that are part of the typical theatrical experience.

Kerner works in job placement for people with developmental disabilities who often have sensory issues. Four years ago, she began to pay more attention to her own sensitivities during rehearsals for “The Music Man," in which the orchestra seemed noisy and abrasive. Shortly thereafter, a doctor diagnosed her with autism.

Logan and his sister, Ireland, swim at Manchester Aquatic Center on July 16.
Ashley Lisenby | St. Louis Public Radio

Ava Battelle leans into her camp counselor at the back of a big cafeteria called Miller Hall at Wonderland Camp. Parents, including Ava's mom, are registering their kids for another week there. Ava’s counselor, Sydney Dungan, dangles her arm across the girl’s shoulders.

“You don’t get any other experience like this than to live with someone with disabilities for a whole week, getting really close with them, and then just seeing them as a real person and not just as their disability,” Dungan said later.

Priscilla Miller, who has been coming to Artists First for about a year, colors in one of her drawings.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When it comes to supporting people with developmental disabilities through art-making, the activities are much more than just a pastime.

For some in St. Louis, being creative helps them buy food, or get a job. Those are goals – and outcomes – of a St. Louis-area organization called Artists First. But budget cuts are jeopardizing the nonprofit, forcing some hard decisions.

Worker at one of Community Link's workshops for adults with developmental disabilities.
courtesy Community Link

Social service agencies that provide support to thousands of people in the Metro East will be operating without state funding starting Wednesday if Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner can’t reach a budget compromise before the start of the new fiscal year.

Funding for most state programs, including child care subsidies and early intervention for children with developmental disabilities, have yet to be approved.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The expert Easter egg fillers at Canterbury Enterprises in Shrewsbury packed 5.5 million plastic eggs with candy and toys this year — a new record for the nonprofit sheltered workshop that employs about 100 people with disabilities.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

The state of Missouri may be required to repay $11.5 million to the federal government, after miscalculating Medicaid payment rates for some case management services to people with developmental disabilities. The findings  were published last week in an audit by the Office of the Inspector General. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 26, 2008 - The movie Tropic Thunder debuted in August with attendance that matched the accolades from the critics. It was feted as humor at it finest - a satire that pulled no punches.

About 13 years ago, I might have found Tropic Thunder humorous. Then, my son was born with autism. Now, it's not so funny. The movie's repeated use of the term "retard" and its depiction of those with developmental disabilities are unquestionably demeaning. But the real joke is the defense of its satiric ambitions that fall once again on that great pillar of Hollywood absolution - creativity.