Playgroup Pays Off for Children with Special Needs

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

For a family with a child with special needs, especially autism, finding support and stimulation for your child can be difficult. That’s why two mothers got together to start a unique play group, known as the Revere Drop and Stay group, and it’s been a great success.

Jennifer Duggan and Enza Goodwin, mothers whose children are on the autism spectrum, started the play group 15 months ago with the support of the city.

“Both of our kids are on the autism spectrum, and we wanted something local,” said Duggan, whose son has sensory integration disorder. Now, he has has gone from being barely verbal to more verbal. “The kids find their niche and interact with each other.”

Now the group gives families a once a week play date where parents can also sit around and talk. The group is geared toward children age 2.5 to 8 years old and costs $5 per child.

The group meets in the Recreation Department Building on Beach Street. The enclosed space is a safe place to allow the children to be themselves, running and yelling freely, and having a chance to be who they are.

Every night  has different activities like providing a trampoline, play dough, coloring and more. They also throw holiday themed parties. The activities focus on movement and sensory

“There’s no judgement,” Duggan said. “The key is to have the parents learn from each other.”

Last year Goodwin and Duggan approached Mayor Brian Arrigo to bring the Special Olympics back to the city. The young athletes ages 2-7 are able to develop athletic skills.

“We hope to build community and meet new friends,” Duggan said, adding that the programs aren’t just for Revere families. “There are a lot of programs for for older children, but nothing was available for younger kids.

The following activities are available this fall:

  • Special Olympics Junior Soccer, six-week program, ages 5-15 at the Paul Revere School, 395 Revere St., starting Sept. 30.
  • For Special Olympics Young Athletes, ages 2-7, six weeks, also at the Paul Revere, starting Sept. 30. To register call Eric at 508-485-0986, ext. 221.
  • The Drop and Stay Play/Support group is on Monday nights, 150 Beach St. from 6-7:30 p.m., Recreation Building, 105 Beach St.

For more information on the programs email Goodwin at [email protected] or Duggan at [email protected]

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