Finding a Place to Belong

This post is about a pilot program established by GiGi’s Playhouse Madison called Dynamic Duals.

This is a monthly program designed specifically for families & individuals with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome-Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or sensory or behavioral challenges. Parents meet in one area to connect, have fun, share successes, resources, and strategies while participants engage in fun educational activities that respect the needs of each child. Siblings can join their brother or sister in activities that match their interests or choose other options.

Our focus is creating relationships, working on individual goals, and ensuring participants feel comfortable and safe. Tools specifically designed to improve communication, ease transitions, support motor skills, and explore the sensory world are utilized based on each child’s unique characteristics and preferences. A light snack will be provided.


Guest post by Playhouse mom- Jennifer

My heart is so incredibly full!!
Today, for the first time, both Noah and I attended our first Dynamic Duals event at GiGi’s Playhouse – Madison.
As we pulled in, I was a little misty eyed explaining to Noah that he was the reason this place even existed.
For a decade now, I have explained to people that I often feel that I am straddling two worlds, one half in the Down syndrome community (whom I adore) and the other half in the Autism community (whom I also adore). But never feeling we entirely fit into either one.
Imagine my delight when other participants arrived and they were so much like Noah, yet unique in their own way.
We have been told that Noah cannot attend….. cannot attend places you would think he should be allowed to attend. Today, Noah was just like the other participants and in fact, was a model attendee and played games and jammed to music for over an hour before he asked for his iPad.
I am BEYOND grateful to program leaders Wendy Kaplan and my own mother Susan Torgrude for creating this community to support Madison area families just like mine.
When another participant walked in, Noah waved and immediately stood up and walked over to where the other teen with a dual diagnosis was sitting.
He knew, he knew this kid was just like him!!
What a great day!!

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  1. Zane Torgrude, Foundiing Board President of GiGi’s Playhouse, Madison,WI on May 19, 2022 at 9:59 am

    Yes, Dynamic Duals is a special program. Thank you Jennifer for your kind words. Also a Special Thank you to Wendy and Susan for developing this unique program. I👏👏

  2. Judy Heil on June 2, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    What a beautiful story with a wonderful outcome!! Thank you for sharing, Jennifer.

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