The pandemic continues to create challenges for local people with intellectual disabilities

Chatfield said her department is seeing many referrals for after-holiday service, a trend she expects will be exacerbated by the pandemic. She pointed to the lack of opportunities for social interaction during a period of physical distancing, as well as an influx of babies born in the past two years.

“I think it’s probably going to be front and center because they haven’t come out and have access and seen,” she said.

Face-to-face socialization opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities have also been impacted.

Chatfield said his department has, however, seen some positive consequences of the pandemic: for example, the department has had to look to new ways to connect with people with intellectual disabilities.

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Its staff, unable to enter most homes in the area, have learned to video call families to guide parents in caring for their children. Chatfield said her staff have seen this empower families more as the training has become parent-focused.

“It gave them so much more confidence,” she said. “That’s one thing that COVID has given us: education, learning and growth.”

Likewise, council workers have been meeting adults with developmental disabilities safely, via video calls, frequent phone calls and physically distanced meetings in outdoor spaces or talking to people through their screen doors.

“Even if it’s through a screen, we’re still here, seeing you, engaging,” she said.

Chatfield said the council bought several folding chairs to take with them to meet families and individuals in the parks as well.

“They know they can count on us,” she said. “You work with people you love and care about.”

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Clark County Developmental Disabilities serves people from birth throughout their lives. Pictured is Mason, who receives services from the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Early Intervention Program. Mason uses physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists at Clark DD, and obtains vision and hearing services through the Ohio State School for the Blind and the Deaf Community Resource Center. Photo courtesy of Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.

Clark County Developmental Disabilities serves people from birth throughout their lives.  Pictured is Mason, who receives services from the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Early Intervention Program.  Mason uses physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists at Clark DD, and obtains vision and hearing services through the Ohio State School for the Blind and the Deaf Community Resource Center.  Photo courtesy of Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.
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Clark County Developmental Disabilities serves people from birth throughout their lives. Pictured is Mason, who receives services from the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Early Intervention Program. Mason uses physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists at Clark DD, and obtains vision and hearing services through the Ohio State School for the Blind and the Deaf Community Resource Center. Photo courtesy of Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.

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People with developmental disabilities were among the first to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, and Chatfield said council staff worked with individuals to educate them about the impacts of COVID-19. Clark County Developmental Disabilities worked with the Clark County Combined Health District to schedule appointments for people who wanted to be vaccinated, Chatfield said.

The council said the annual campaign aims to raise awareness of the inclusion of people with DD in all areas of community life, as well as the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting within communities in which they live.

“Developmental Disabilities of Clark County is committed to helping people reach their full potential through meaningful relationships, but we need the help of our community to make lasting progress,” said Will Bagnola, Superintendent of Disorders. development of Clark County.

In recognition of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Clark County Developmental Disabilities participates in or hosts a variety of events. Banners featuring local individuals will fly in Springfield, New Carlisle and Enon during the month. Local governments have also made proclamations recognizing Awareness Month.

Finally, Clark DD is also donating inclusion books, “It’s OK to be Different” by Sharon Purtill to all first grade classes at Clark County schools.

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“Everyone benefits when we welcome people with disabilities equally into our neighborhoods, at work and at social events,” Bagnola said. “We must learn to look beyond the differences we all have and focus on the humanity we share.”

The local SD council shared several ways the community can be more inclusive. For starters, Developmental Disabilities of Clark County urges people to learn more about people with disabilities through films and books that share their experiences.

Being aware of the language is another step people can take, the council said, especially when using People First Language (PFL). PFL uses phrases such as “disabled person”, “persons with disabilities”, and “disabled children”, as opposed to phrases that identify people based solely on their disability, such as “disabled people”.

“They need to be heard, seen, included and loved,” Chatfield said. “Like everyone.”