Maura, Benjamin’s Mom, shares what GiGi’s Playhouse means to her and her family.
“A few months ago I learned about a place called GiGi’s Playhouse. GiGi’s is a national nonprofit organization that was created as a support system for families with a child with Down Syndrome. They support families from prenatal diagnosis all the way through career and life skills for young adults. While developed for kids with Down Syndrome, kids with other disabilities sometimes join the fun, too. After touring the facility and meeting the staff, I was so excited to sign Benjamin up for classes. This fall he took a Special Olympics Young Athletes class and a Social Skills class taught by an amazing Speech Therapist. I’ve met other parents who are living a similar life of appointments, therapies, IEP meetings and unknowns for the future. I’ve met other kids who, like Benjamin, work hard to learn but are joyful and friendly despite their challenges.
Benjamin loves GiGi’s. A couple weeks ago he made up his own (sign language) sign for it. It took a couple days for me to figure out what he was trying to sign and when I finally got it he was so happy I understood. I then spent a couple days trying to get into his brain to understand how he decided on that particular sign for GiGi’s. There’s usually a reason he chooses the signs he does when he makes up his own, but sometimes it takes awhile for me to connect the dots. When I went into the gym to pick him up from his Young Athletes class, I watched the group singing their “goodbye” song. While singing they also signed some of the words. His sign for GiGi’s was the (sign language) sign for “friends”. And when I realized he chose this sign, I almost cried. (Who am I kidding, I actually cried…just a little). Even though we were the outsiders in this organization, I finally felt like we were somewhere we belonged. Where people understood Benjamin and where I wasn’t the only mom dealing with an additional layer to parenthood.
And the fact that Benjamin decided the sign for GiGi’s should be the sign for “friends”, tells me that he also found a place where he feels like he belongs. ❤️”
Thank you, Maura for your kind words! We are so happy you, Benjamin and your whole family are here!