WINSTED, Conn. (WTNH) — “This was probably the hardest six and a half months of my life,” said Sherri Zummo.
Due to the visitation ban, Zummo chose to take her profoundly deaf son with autism out of his group home to her house in Mystic to ride out the pandemic together.
So set into motion a roller coaster ride: Frightening incidents that required police intervention, along with special, sweet moments between mother and son.
“That’s my story as the mother of my beautiful son, Robby,” said Zummo candidly. “That’s the way it’s been since day one.”
Now that the ban has been lifted, the 22-year-old is transitioning back to his group home, a one-of-a-kind house for deaf residents, run by Marrakech Inc., a project that Zummo spearheaded.
“Robby deserves to have as much of a normal life as possible, and he needs to learn to live in a world without Mom because I won’t live forever,” she said with emotion.
With help, the residents do their own shopping, cook meals and participate in work programs. Robby, a talented artist, has his own room where he draws and relaxes.
But, the transition has already been challenging for the young man, who thrives on routine. House Manager Stephen Brathwaite said it’s to be expected.
“He enjoys certain activities,” Brathwaite said, noting that Robby likes to dance and eat with his friends. “It helps him to feel more grounded. He feels better; it takes his mind off the stress of everything going on. The staff does whatever they can. They pull tricks out of a hat to make magic happen for these guys.”
Zummo hopes the last few months are a memory and that the future is filled with new experiences for her son.
“How happy he is when he sees staff, his housemates he lives with, that just makes everything worth it,” said Zummo.
Robby, who communicates through sign language, added, “I like it here.”
Zummo, the founder of Robby’s Cause, is working hard right now to open another home in Winsted for deaf residents with intellectual disabilities.