Amina Grace Speech and Language Program: The Clinicians’ Perspective

The GiGi’s Playhouse Amina Grace Speech and Language program provides children, youth, and adults with greatly expanded opportunities to evolve and refine their clarity of speech, word order, enunciation, and message meaning. These skills are paramount to fostering greater self-confidence, comprehension, problem-solving, school readiness, social skills, independence, and overall quality of life.

The benefits of this program are immeasurable, not only for individuals with Down syndrome and their families, but for the emerging speech pathologists as well. The fabulous team of student clinicians from Wayne State University have just completed their final week of the summer session.

Here is what they had to say about their experience:

“As the semester comes to an end, it’s easy to document and focus on all the progress our clients have made (and rightfully so!). Whether they were focusing on increasing their understanding of language, increasing language use, or working on perfecting some of their speech sounds, each client worked hard during every session to reach their individual goals. I think what is easy to forget, however, is while we are working each week to help our clients meet their goals, we are also taking away something much bigger; the relationships formed with both clients and their families, and just how much teaching this population is giving back to us! As student clinicians, our growth and learning are directly attributed to parents and caregivers so graciously sharing their children with us. The biggest thank you to those families cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for this experience.”

– Danielle Giordano

“I had the most amazing experience the past couple months. It was an honor to come into this wonderful organization and develop a connection with such bright and hardworking children. Being able to experience and hear the voices of clients I worked with throughout the semester, whether it be verbal expressions or using alternative communication methods, made my heart sing. It took no time at all to feel proud of the students and the progress they made each week. All who enter through the doors of GiGi’s Playhouse are truly “The Best of All”, with their zest for life and learning that is so admirable. I sincerely thank the families for allowing me the opportunity to work with their children, GiGi’s Playhouse staff, and the organization itself for making this experience possible.”

– Sandra Folino

“Prior to my placement at GiGi’s, I had never worked with individuals with Down syndrome. While working with my clients, I learned about all the amazing skills they have and incorporated them within treatment. During the semester, the staff was extremely generous when it came to providing us with resources, printing supplies, and simply a place to work outside of the clinic. The connections I made with both the parents and clients will last a lifetime. I am so thankful for the supportive learning experience Gigi’s Playhouse has provided me!”

– Sydney Knisley

“I was honored to work with all the families at GiGi’s Playhouse for my Spring/Summer placement, and I would not have wanted to go anywhere else. The kids I worked with taught me so much about Down syndrome, laughing, caring, and just being yourself. As someone who is there to teach and encourage communication, all the children and parents at GiGi’s have truly taught me so much more than I could have imagined. I hope to stay within the circle of GiGi’s as I continue my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist, and to broaden my knowledge as I work with kids from all backgrounds. Thank you, GiGi’s, for all you have done and for entrusting us at Wayne State to be a part of the GiGi’s family.”

– Neal Backus

We are sending a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to the Wayne State University Speech Department and Danielle, Sandra, Sydney, Neil, and their supervisor, Kimberly Lyon, for the time, energy, creativity, thoughtfulness and encouragement you brought to our Playhouse this summer. It was truly amazing to witness your sessions and see the results. We wish you all the best in your careers and beyond!

And we also want to thank the wonderful Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation for the grant they awarded us to fund this life-changing program!

To learn more about the Amina Grace Speech and Language program, visit this link.

Mark your calendar:

Registration for the fall session opens August 3rd. Slots are limited and fill up fast!



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