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How We Wrote the Story

We talked to many people and read a lot of paperwork to make this story.

Jaden Ruiz in his bedroom. Jaden has autism. He lives in Avondale, Arizona. Jaden was told he couldn’t get help from DDD. He won a lawsuit against DDD in October. He will get help now. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star)

ProPublica is a group of reporters. We write stories that look at how the people in charge behave. We make sure they are not doing anything wrong or unfair. You can sign up to read more of our stories.

The Arizona Daily Star worked with us to write this story. They are part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network.

Many people helped make this story. The two groups that made the story are:

  • The Arizona Daily Star

    • This is a newspaper. It is in Tucson.
  • The Local Reporting Network of ProPublica

    • This is a group of journalists who write stories. These stories make sure people and groups do what they say they will. We call this accountability journalism.

Amy Silverman wrote the story. Amy is a journalist. She did 125 interviews for this story. These are the kinds of people she talked to:

  • People with developmental disabilities.

  • Their families

  • Their caregivers

  • Disability advocates

  • Researchers

  • Politicians

  • Lawyers

  • Doctors

  • Teachers

  • People who work for the Arizona government

Amy looked at a lot of paperwork. These are the kinds of paperwork she looked at:

  • Government audits

    • These are reports about how well groups do their jobs.
  • Budget reports

    • These show how groups spend their money.
  • Historical documents

    • These are papers that show how things worked in the past.
  • Court records

  • Surveys

  • Paperwork given to Amy by the people she interviewed

Amy has a daughter with Down syndrome. Amy’s daughter gets services from the Department of Developmental Disabilities.

Alex Devoid helped get info for this story. He is a reporter at the Arizona Daily Star. He got information from DDD. He used a computer program to figure out how many people get services from DDD. He found the reasons people did not get help from DDD.

Maya Miller and Beena Raghavendran helped with the story too. They work for ProPublica. They worked with Amy to make a storytelling event this summer. People with DD told stories about their lives. Most of the storytellers were from a group called Detour Company Theatre. They are in Scottsdale.

This was important because we want people with DD to tell their own stories. Maya and Beena helped people watching the event share their stories too.

We call people by their first names in this story. That is because we talked to people in the same family. Some people had the same last name. Using last names may be confusing.

Mamta Popat took pictures for this story. She works for the Arizona Daily Star.

Shoshana Gordon works for ProPublica. She found people to draw pictures for the story.

The people who drew pictures for this story work at Make Studio. Make Studio is in Baltimore. The artists there have disabilities.

Rebecca Monteleone helped with the story. Rebecca is a teacher. She works at the University of Toledo in Ohio. She rewrote Amy’s story in plain language. Plain language means it is easier to read for some people. You can learn more about plain language by clicking on the blue link. Rebecca helped with the storytelling event too.

We made the story in plain language because we want people with DD to be able to read it.

Beena read the story out loud too. People can listen to the story instead of reading it.

We wrote this story in Spanish too.

Rebecca Monteleone translated this story into plain language.

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ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that produces nonpartisan, evidence-based journalism to expose injustice, corruption and wrongdoing. We were founded over 10 years ago to fill a growing hole in journalism: Newsrooms were (and still are) shrinking, and legacy funding models are failing. Deep-dive reporting like ours is slow and expensive, and investigative journalism is a luxury in many newsrooms today — but it remains as critical as ever to democracy and our civic life. More than a decade (and six Pulitzer Prizes) later, ProPublica has built the largest investigative newsroom in the country. Our work has spurred reform through legislation, at the voting booth and inside our nation’s most important institutions.

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