At the St. Louis Arc, supporting the whole family is a vital part of our mission. No one understands that more than the Saputo family. Peter and Susan Saputo are quintessential St. Louisans. Born and raised here, they met, married and brought twin boys, Jack and Joe, into the world 18 years ago.
Susan states, “because they are twins, we knew early on that something was different so we had Joe evaluated.” When Joe was diagnosed with autism, Peter and Susan relentlessly researched to help him. The path was often a never-ending string of unknowns and frustrations. “You simply don’t know what you don’t know,” Peter says. “You try everything because you don’t want to miss the possibility of that one right answer.”
Programs and Services for the Whole Family
The Arc’s Family Supports team understands the challenges families face. Whether a family is at the beginning of their journey or has been navigating the disability community for decades, it is crucial to support families as they build their confidence and competence. Developing a network of support with other families, ensuring access to resources, and guiding families to make informed decisions with their family member with I/DD can alleviate stress and help them achieve their goals.
Peter and Susan discovered that parental support is an incremental “letting go.” They battled the urge to be overprotective. Susan recalls how hard it was to leave Joe at St. Louis Arc’s summer Teens In Motion program for the first time. After a week, it was clear that Joe was having the time of his life. The Arc was the right place for him at the time – he grew and flourished.
The Saputo family has taken part in many programs at the Arc, including Sibshops, Teens in Motion, Family Workshops, and advocacy. Peter says, “I consider our journey a ‘voyage’ where we encounter lighthouses to guide us along the way. St. Louis Arc is our lighthouse today as we look to plan for Joe’s future transitions. Though we have invested a lot of time and effort thus far, we are still learning. Agencies like St. Louis Arc can be places that provide us with answers, pointing us in the directions we need to go.”
At the St. Louis Arc, parents, siblings, significant others – all family members are supported. We are grateful to Peter, Susan, Joe, and Jack for sharing their story. As we kick off the giving season, learn more about the Saputo family and their journey.