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We set out this summer to find some great inclusive suburban spots to play. Here are 10 we think everyone will enjoy.
1450 Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook
The Sandlot is Oak Brook Park District’s newest attraction. It is a fully accessible and inclusive park equipped with two ramps for wheelchair accessibility and adaptable swings.
What kids will love: Kids will enjoy the musical elements and saucer swing.
What parents will love: The variety of play equipment for all abilities and shaded seating area.
Special note: This is a perfect location to host a playdate or birthday party. This is an inclusive playground that really suits the needs for various abilities.
15W400 Harvester Drive, Burr Ridge
Harvester Park is nearly 37 acres of wetlands equipped with playgrounds, fishing, trails, observations points, discovery centers and much more.
What kids will love: The splash pad and musical barn fully stocked with instruments to create various musical sounds.
What parents will love: The shaded pavilion and accessibility to restrooms and plentiful parking.
Special note: There are no accessible swings. However this park is full of sensory-stimulating elements, including the instruments, waterplay, splash pad and sand box. There is also a ramp and paved pathways to maneuver through the park.
7100 Clarendon Hills Road, Darien
A fully ADA accessible park for children of all abilities to enjoy and allow their imaginations to run wild. The park is equipped with imagination stations to allow children to use their creativity along with a spongy surface to easily maneuver about the playground.
What kids will love: Chalk wall and drama village stage for performing.
What parents will love: Fully fenced-in playground and plenty of seating.
Special note: There are no bathrooms, however there is a portable potty.
2000 W. Army Trail Road, Hanover Park
Indoor play place for children that have sensory sensitivities. This playhouse doubles as play place that has dual functionality equipment perfect for play or developing strength.
What kids will love: The sensory stations, painting, zipline and quiet time in the “carwash” for those moments when they need to decompress.
What parents will love: Playologists! The Playologists are in place to not only to keep kiddos safe but to play alongside with them. This allows parents an opportunity to sit back, relax or observe their child.
Special note: Some therapists visit the playhouse with patients using interchangeable equipment on site.
2350 W. Higgins Road, Hoffman Estates and other cities
Gigi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center dedicated to providing educational, therapeutic and career development services free to individuals with Down syndrome.
What kids will love: Children love the vibrant and fun atmosphere along with all of the fun toys and classes.
What parents will love: Free educational and support services and warm sense-of-joy atmosphere.
Special note: Gigi’s Playhouse has many locations throughout Illinois and beyond. The Hoffman Estates location has a beautiful cafe run by teens looking to gain work skills.
2751 Navistar Drive, Lisle
An inclusive playground and garden nestled in the DuPage Forest Preserves’ Danada South area, this playground is completely sensory based with gardens that ignite fragrances of flowers and herbs and instruments that evoke sound.
What kids will love: Sound garden with chimes and drums.
What parents will love: The shaded central gathering area equipped with benches and picnic tables.
Special note: The park has a trail that’s suitable for running or walking with six workout stations along the way for a quick stationary workout. The trail is suitable for strollers and wagons.
1435 Jefferson Ave., Downers Grove
Universally designed playground with double-wide ramps, relaxation station, connected climbing structures and structures that adapt to a wheelchair or walker.
What kids will love: Kids love the connected structures with lots of opportunities to climb through each structure.
What parents will love: Relaxation station for children who need to rest or are overly stimulated.
Special note: This playground is located on school grounds and is only open to the public on days when class is not in session and during the end of the school day.
151 S. Water St, South Elgin
Inclusive playground equipped with adaptable swings and ramps allowing parallel play for children with all abilities.
What kids will love: The adaptable swings and wide open spaces allowed for additional play space.
What parents will love: Beautiful scenery, shelter with picnic tables and accessibility to Fox River. It’s a great location to have an extended afternoon of fun.
Special note: Fishing opportunities are available on the premises and walking trails.
553 E. Dundee Road, Palatine
We Rock The Spectrum is an indoor gym for children of all abilities. This gym is a true kiddie gym with 10 pieces of uniquely designed sensory equipment.
What kids will love: The variety of equipment available to play on.
What parents will love: The ability for children to have a place to play indoors that is not only sensory stimulating but allows them to be active.
Special note: Check the Facebook page or call ahead of time for open play hours.
311 S Reed St., Joliet
Fully wheelchair accessible playground with apparatuses supporting individuals with various special needs.
What kids will love: The accessible swings that allow wheelchairs to be attached.
What parents will love: The idea that the park is fully wheelchair accessible and with many opportunities for children in wheelchairs to be fully immersed in fun.
Special note: The playground is located on the premises of the Center For Disability Services campus. It is a great resource for families and caregivers to individuals with cerebral palsy and other severe special needs.
From the best family brunches to the coolest kids’ soft play areas, here are the shortlists for this year’s awards ceremony
Dubai is one of the most family-friendly cities on Earth. There, we said it. Don’t believe us? Then feast your eyes on the nominees for this year’s Time Out Dubai Kids Awards, which will take place on Sunday September 22 at Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City.
Categories are more competitive than ever for 2019, with so many superb activities for kids of all ages, and the parents who are secretly just as excited about flinging themselves onto inflatable landing pads.
From the UAE-wide Best Family Hotel to the Dubai-specific Best Soft Play Venue, these awards are designed to highlight the greatest destinations around for parents and their energetic broods, plus the services they need to make lasting memories – that’s why this year we’ve introduced new categories including Best UAE Family Leisure Store and Best Maternity/Family Photographer.
Whether you’ve just arrived in the city or think you’ve lived here long enough to have tried it all, this year’s nominees is essential reading.
For table bookings, email email@example.com.
Best UAE Kids’ Clothing Store
Best Online Kids’ Retailer
Best UAE Family Leisure Store
Best UAE Maternity Retailer
Best UAE Toy Store
Best Kids’ Entertainment Centre
Best Kids’ Edutainment Centre
Best Soft Play Venue
Best UAE Theme Park
Best UAE Waterpark
Best Kids’ Party Choice
FOOD AND HOSPITALITY
Best Family Café/Restaurant
Best Family Brunch
Best Family Beach Day
Best UAE Family Hotel
SPORT, HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Best Fitness Organisation
Best Outdoor Adventure Sports Experience
Special Recognition for Pre- and Post-Natal Care
PEOPLE AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Best Maternity/Family Photographer
Parent Blog of 2019
Time Out Kids Family Entrepreneurial Award
Recognition for the Education of People of Determination
BEST UAE KIDS’ CLOTHES SHORTLIST
Cotton On Kids
BEST ONLINE KIDS’ RETAILER SHORTLIST
Eggs & Soldiers
Five Little Ducks
Martin and Ella
Mumz and Munchkins
BEST UAE FAMILY LESIURE STORE SHORTLIST
Sun & Sand Sports
The Cycle Hub
BEST MATERNITY RETAILER SHORTLIST
Marks & Spencer
Mums & Bumps
Nats & Jun
BEST UAE TOY STORE SHORTLIST
Back to Games
The Toy Store
Toys for Less
Toys R Us
BEST KIDS’ ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE SHORTLIST
Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ
Dubai Bowling Centre
BEST KIDS’ EDUTAINMENT CENTRE SHORTLIST
School of Culinary and Finishing Arts (SCAFA)
STEM for Kids
The Green Planet
BEST SOFT PLAY VENUE SHORTLIST
Funky Monkeys Playland
Stay & Play
We Rock The Spectrum
BEST UAE THEME PARK SHORTLIST
Bollywood Parks Dubai
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
IMG Worlds of Adventure
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
BEST UAE WATERPARK SHORTLIST
LEGOLAND Water Park Dubai
Splash ‘n’ Party
Splash Island at Blue Wave Club
Wild Wadi Waterpark
BEST KIDS’ PARTY CHOICE SHORTLIST
Be Bar Blow Dry Bar
Kid’s Party Palace
Mattel Play! Town
Splash ’n’ Party
The Green Planet
The Happy Studio
BEST FAMILY RESTAURANT/CAFÉ SHORTLIST
Jones the Grocer
LOWE, KOA Canvas
Reform Social & Grill
The Cheesecake Factory
BEST FAMILY BRUNCH SHORTLIST
Al Bahou, Mövenpick Ibn Battuta Gate
BFF, Ibn Battuta Gate
Bread Street Kitchen, Atlantis The Palm
Family Daycation Brunch, Lapita Hotel Dubai
Farmer’s Brunch, Bab Al Shams
Geales, Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa
Mazina, Address Dubai Marina
Nomad, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel
The City Brunch, Hilton Al Habtoor City
The Picnic Pantry Brunch, Crowne Plaza Festival City
BEST FAMILY BEACH DAY SHORTLIST
Club Joumana, JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort
Club Mina, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim
La Mer, Jumeirah 1
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort, Dubai Marina
RIVA Beach Club, Palm Jumeirah
Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah
Talise, Madinat Jumeirah
The Beach, Dubai Marina
Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah
BEST UAE FAMILY HOTEL SHORTLIST
Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah
Emirates Palace, Corniche, Abu Dhabi
Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim
Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts
Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort, Dubai Marina
Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah
The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Corniche, Abu Dhabi
BEST FITNESS ORGANISATION SHORTLIST
Desert Palm Riding School
Diverse Performing Arts School
Dubai Tigers Rugby Club
Elite Sports Academy
My Sports Academy
Spanish Soccer Schools at Dubai Sports City Football Academy
We Rock The Spectrum
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE SPORTS EXPERIENCE SHORTLIST
Al Boom Diving
Dubai Offshore Sailing Club
Surf House Dubai
Wire World Adventure Parks
Xtreme Wake UAE
SPECIAL RECOGNITION PRE- AND POST-NATAL CARE SHORTLIST
Amy Vogelaar & Jasmine Collin, co-founders and parenting educators, Love Parenting UAE
Andrea Allen, founder, The Doting Doulas
Dru Campbell, midwife, Health Bay Clinic
Eleonora Fornelli and Shereen Zarroug, co-founders, Belly Baby Mom
Elsa de Menezes Fernandes, Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and founder, New Concept Clinic
Janice Aton, Lactation Nurse, Malaak Mama & Baby Care
Jennifer Kasirsky, Head of Maternity, Mediclinic
Jo Holt, lead sleep expert & quality control, Malaak Mama & Baby Care
Joanne Hanson-Halliwell and Lala Langtry White, Small & Mighty Babies
Kirsty MacPherson-Wright, co-founder, Phoenix Rising
BEST MATERNITY/FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER SHORTLIST
Adele Major Photography
Becky Clemson Photography
Blink by Laura McCone
Emma Staples Photography
Hotshots Photography by Charlotte Simpson
Marli Smith Photography
Sophia Mattia Photography
Stu Williamson Photography
PARENT BLOG OF 2019 SHORTLIST
Babynilia & Mummy, Behnoush Aghajanpour
Dubai Mother, Wahiba Esri
Just Two Mums, Megan Kelly and Rebecca Davis
Khalid Al Ameri
My Little Loves, Helen O’Brien
My Wilde Tribe, Jeri Willmott
Nadine As A Mum, Nadine Zein
Seashells on the Palm, Edwina Viel
The Mothership, Helen Farmer
TIME OUT KIDS FAMILY ENTREPRENEURIAL AWARD SHORTLIST
Charlie Barlow, Health at Hand
Dr Saliha Afridi, LightHouse Arabia
Geetanjali Kaul, TurtleCard
Hannah Curran, Pure Born
Hiba Van Dyke, Chubby Cheeks organic baby food
Holly Hart, Neon Starfish
Jumana Al Darwish, The Happy Studio
Lily Kandalaft, Malaak
Raquel Ramalheira, Martin and Ella
Sofi Chabowski, Eggs & Soldiers
RECOGNITION FOR THE EDUCATION OF PEOPLE OF DETERMINATION SHORTLIST
Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs
Child Early Intervention Center
Dubai Autism Center
Dubai Center for Special Needs
Riverston Children’s Centre
Team Angel Wolf
Tender Hearts Arena
Wilson Center for Child Development
As summer stretches on and the temperatures tick skyward, Florida families know that sometimes the best place to play is inside where the AC is cool and sunscreen is not required. Thankfully, the First Coast is home to plenty of indoor activities so you’ll never be bored while beating the heat.
(locations at the Beaches and Bartram Springs, www.baynbee.com) Bay & Bee is a locally owned, eco-friendly indoor play space inspired by Montessori and Waldorf educational principles and geared toward children, infant to age 5. In addition to open play, classes and workshops are available to members. Your first visit is free and monthly memberships start at $62 a month.
(8380 Baymeadows Rd, www.sensorytowne.com) Sensory Towne is a cutting edge sensory gym that provides a safe and inclusive environment for all children and families to enjoy no matter what their ability. Their one-of-a-kind sensory circuit classes, interactive floors, equipment and educational opportunities make it a great place to play. Open Gym is available to the public during all regular business hours (excluding events) and admission is $12 for two hours and $20 for all day play.
(9357-3 Philips Hwy, www.werockthespectrumjacksonville.com) We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. Their uniquely designed sensory equipment is perfect for all children, including those with sensory processing disorders. Open Play time is offered daily at $12 per child and includes full use of all gym equipment and access to the arts & crafts area. Memberships are also available starting at $50.
(1035 Blanding Blvd, www.jumperzfuncenter.com) Jumperz offers 14,000 square feet of fun-filled attractions for parties and walk-in play. Activities include the Jump Zone with themed inflatables for ages 2 to 12, the Game Zone Arcade, two escape rooms and a combat game called Bazooka Ball, which combines laser tag and (paintless) paint ball for ages 7 and up in the Battle Zone. Open play includes access to the Jump Zone and the Game Zone Arcade and starts at $7. Other attractions are an additional fee.
(11840 Beach Blvd, www.pumpitupparty.com/jacksonville-fl/) Pump It Up is a private, indoor arena, filled with gigantic inflatable slides, bounce houses, obstacle courses and more. They offer Family Jump Time, field trips, summer camps, and birthday parties. Open jump times are $10 per child.
(10503 San Jose Blvd, www.slinkeyjax.com) Slinkey’s is a 25,000 square foot play facility that offers a wide array of activities as well as open play, private parties, birthday parties, and fundraisers. Open Play price is $8.50 per child for the whole day.
In the last few years trampoline and adventure parks have become a huge favorite with kids and adults alike. There are several in the Jacksonville area, all offering wall-to-wall trampolines, basketball dunking lanes, dodgeball, and other fun activities to help get the wiggles out. Attractions and pricing varies based on location. That info, along with any discounts, deals and promotions offered, can be found on the parks’ websites.
(9292 Arlington Expy, www.surgeadventureparks.com)
(1564 Park Ave, www.getairsports.com/orangepark)
(1210 Beach Blvd, www.gotjump.com/florida/jacksonville-beach/)
(7022 AC Skinner Pkwy, www.flightfitnfun.com/locations/jacksonville/)
(14085 Old St. Augustine Rd, www.bravoz.com)
(Jax location coming soon, www.skyzone.com)
(Opening soon at 9950 Southside Blvd, www.urbanairtrampolinepark.com/locations/florida/jacksonville)
The Greater Jacksonville area is home to several bowling alleys and many are participating in Kids Bowl Free, a program that was designed by bowling centers to give back to their communities and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer. Children are eligible to register for 2 free games each day of the KBF program, all summer long. Sign up at www.kidsbowlfree.com and bowl for free at:
(818 Beach Blvd)
(3245 A1A S, St. Augustine)
(1838 Cassat Ave)
(5210 Lenox Ave)
Strap on some skates and burn some energy at one of the Bold City’s skating rinks. Roller skating and ice skating are both available and are both solid options for an afternoon of high-energy fun.
(3604 Philips Hwy, www.jacksonvilleice.com)
(locations in Orange Park and Mandarin, www.funworks.com)
(9244 Arlington Expy, www.skatecityjax.com)
Our local libraries are a godsend to cash-strapped parents who want to beat the heat while giving little ones something fun to do. Each county’s library system has put together a variety of programs for children and teens including storytimes, crafts, movies, gaming, and special programming. There’s typically something going on everyday for every age group. Check out your county’s website to learn more about the programs offered at the branch near you.
St. Johns www.sjcpls.org
(10370 Philips Hwy, www.mainevent.com) With state-of-the-art bowling, multi-level laser tag, more than 100 games topped with handcrafted food and a full bar under one roof, Main Event is the destination for fun. Promotions and deals can be found on Main Event’s website.
A visit to one of Jacksonville’s museums is a great way to spend a summer day. Our museum “big three” all offer free or reduced admission on certain days, making it affordable as well as fun! Below is a look at the current promotions at each of the museums. Be sure to check the museum’s website for hours and other info.
(www.themosh.org) $5 admission and extended hours every Friday; free admission to Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholders on the first full weekend of the month; Buy-one-get-one-half-off adult admission on “MOSH Mondays”
(www.cummermuseum.org) Free admission every Tuesday after 4 pm; free admission to Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholders on the first full weekend of the month; free admission on the first Saturday of the month
Boca Raton play gym aims to be the one place kids don’t have to say they’re sorry
“I LOVE THIS PLACE!” my 6 year-old daughter and 2 year-old nephew exclaimed as my sister and I walked (they ran) into the brand-new location of We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton.
I almost yelled the same thing considering we were entering a wonderfully air conditioned space from 93-degree Florida heat outside.
An indoor play gym on a scorching or rainy day is a Boca mom’s godsend if you happen to have little kids with lots of energy to burn. And We Rock is extra special because they not only cater to typically developing children, but to those with autism or special needs as well—They believe in accommodating everyone.
While We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton is now in an upgraded location in The Boca Hamptons Plaza on Lyons Road, we’ve been going to this sensory-safe play gym since my daughter, Avery, was only 1 year old. (FYI—I remember her crying so hard when we left after our first visit! It was that fun.)
A family-owned franchise, they’ve now doubled in size from their original space to a bright, wide-open playtime mecca that offers tons of classes, birthday parties, a toddler play area and more. In making sure We Rock sticks to their core mission of inclusion, they’ve also added a low-lit calming room for kids who might need a sensory break.
The activities at We Rock the Spectrum are endless. From a spring-free trampoline and jungle gym to swings, a zip line, rock climbing wall and imaginary play stations, no two visits will be ever be the same for your children. As for the parents, We Rock has also added a “bar area” where moms and dads can hang out and supervise their children from a distance or have a snack at a little café table next to the We Rock Shop. Having more space has really made a big difference.
A couple things to note before you visit We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton:
There is no age limit for children with special needs. For neurotypical children, ages 11 and under.
$14 per child; siblings discounted to $12 each.
There are monthly memberships available.
A parent or guardian must accompany the child during Open Play at all times.
Rock on Boca families!
We Rock the Spectrum, 9060 Kimberly Blvd #36-39, Boca Raton; 561/218-0128; werockthespectrumbocaraton.com
BOCA RATON, Fla. (CBS12) — A place to play, learn and be accepted for children on the Autism spectrum.
“He loves coming and using the zip-line and the trampoline,” said one mother, Kristin Streit, of her son.
But while We Rock the Spectrum looks like any other place for kids to play, it’s actually specifically designed to be especially friendly to kids on the spectrum.
“I have one child with autism, one without. It’s a great, safe place for him to come where he can meet all of his sensory needs in one,” said Streit.
There are swings and trampolines that look normal but are actually based on sensory equipment found at occupational therapy centers.
“There are so many things he can play with and so many things he can enjoy,” said Streit.
The gym’s motto: “Finally a place where you never have to say sorry.”
“It’s wonderful to come and meet other people and feel like I can come and not have to apologize,” said Streit.
It’s also a great place for parents of children on the spectrum to network.
“It’s been so nice to come and meet other people: teachers, families, mothers, fathers, everybody who has an understanding of children on the spectrum,” said Streit.
And a place where any child can play and learn.
“There’s typical children and non-typical children and to have everybody together in one place to where everybody can play together has been really helpful to him and to other children as well to be more understanding of other children with disabilities,” said Streit.
Shane Stahl, the Chief Strategy Officer for “We Rock the Spectrum,” says he is excited to announce the partnership between them and Springfree Trampoline, which boasts the safest, highest quality and longest lasting trampolines. Springfree Trampoline donated the trampoline that is seen in the gym today.
Boca Raton Sensory Gym Doubles in Size, Servicing 1,000+ in First Month
We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton Hosts a Celebration for their Bigger and Better Location
Boca Raton, FL – We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton has opened the doors to its brand-new, upgraded location that is double the size of its previous space. To celebrate their success and the opening of this amazing new gym, they will be hosting an event on Sunday, July 21st from 11am to 4pm. The celebration will take place at the new gym at The Boca Hamptons, 9060 Kimberly Blvd, Suite 36 – 39, Boca Raton, FL 33434. We Rock the Spectrum caters to children with special needs and families with children of ALL abilities are encouraged to come enjoy the new gym.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the original location, it became apparent to owners, Gail and John Field, that they had outgrown the space and finding a larger gym was the next best step for their community. It was the first-of-its-kind when the sensory gym introduced itself to the community 5 years ago and continues to break barriers with all the improvements that Gail and John have implemented at this new location.
“Our customers always loved how homey our We Rock was, so John and I were afraid going bigger would ruin the effect,” Gail said. “But customers are loving the new space and layout and said that it feels the same – just bigger! We are so excited to have brought this bigger and better location to our community.”
Following months of hard work and meticulous planning to make sure the gym was ready for launch, the new location opened its doors on May 27th, 2019. Opening day proved to be a huge success. Since then, We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton has been flooded with camps, parties, and daily Open Play. New and repeat customers have raved of its upgrade and are pleased with all the new additions.
“A lot of thought and care went into the design of this location,” said Yesinia Belen, whose daughter has enjoyed celebrating her birthday several times at the We Rock – Boca Raton gym. “The owners exhibit love and compassion to all the families that come into the gym.”
The New Location Celebration will be an exciting, fun-filled day set to match the excellence of this new gym. The location will also be home to the east coast Corporate Headquarter offices. To help celebrate this milestone for the franchise, CEO and founder, Dina Kimmel, will be flying in from California with members of her west coast Corporate team. Babula Events will be providing the entertainment, Brett Preiser will be performing, Wonderland Parties will have special guests and characters in attendance, and local vendors and restaurants will be sharing their resources.
The celebration is open to children of all abilities. Children will be able to play with all the specialized equipment, including the trampoline, swings, and the zip line. It will be held at The Boca Hamptons Plaza, 9060 Kimberly Blvd, Suite 36 – 39, Boca Raton, FL 33434 from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is $12 per child, and 20% of the proceeds will go to the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation.
About We Rock the Spectrum
Founded in 2010, We Rock the Spectrum is an international franchise opportunity that provides sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development. Each franchise location features ten pieces of uniquely designed therapeutic equipment that promote learning, development, and sensory-safe play. For example, the zip line helps children with vestibular sensations and sensory feedback, while allowing them to better develop upper-arm and core strength. Learn more about the We Rock the Spectrum franchise, its specialized equipment, and the various services it offers by visiting its corporate website https://www.wrtsfranchise.com/.
A new gym in the Upstate is open to kids of all ability levels and has special sensory equipment for kids on the autism spectrum! (6/8/2019)
Beat the heat, the rain, and any weather Texas can send this way in an indoor play area. From babies to teens, get the kids out of the house this summer with these local options.
What is your favorite indoor place to take the kids? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org! Discover more fun events and activities by visiting the Hello Woodlands Calendar at HelloWoodlands.com/Calendar.
A new gym opened on Woodruff Saturday welcoming children of all abilities and catering especially to those children who may be on the spectrum.
Kim and Chris Tolbert opened the gym this weekend and said We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to learn, have fun and grow together in.
Tolbert said children can play on sensory equipment that is specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders.
There are locations across the nation and each gym includes a minimum of ten pieces of play equipment.
The equipment is designed to work with the developmental needs of children with sensory processing disorders.
Tolbert said she used to be a teacher for children with disabilities and recognizes that equipment is sometimes used by Occupational Therapists, who run sessions with the children they work with inside some gym locations.
Instruments include a zip line, tunnel, trampoline and other pieces that encourage growing upper body strength and movement.
The gym is open Monday through Friday 9-7, Saturdays from 10-7 and open to private parties on Sundays.
SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – There’s a new gym opening in Simpsonville, but it’s not filled with barbells and treadmills.
Rather, this gym is one that aims to include all children of all abilities.
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, an international franchise, announced Thursday the new location at 2607 Woodruff Road, Suite A, will have a grand opening on June 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gym’s owners says the event is open to the public and encourages families with children from all walks of life to come. Admission is $12 per child and 20% of proceeds will go to the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum foundation.
According to a press release, each franchise offers sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development. The gyms offer ten pieces of therapeutic equipment specifically designed to work with many sensory processing issues children on the spectrum face, while still providing all kids with the sensory-diet necessary for improved learning and neurological development. One such feature is a zip line that helps kids with vestibular sensations and sensory feedback. Beyond equipment, gyms also offer classes, day camp opportunities, arts and crafts; and more.
We Rock the Spectrum’s CEO and founder is Dina Kimmel, whose son has autism. The release says Kimmel struggled to find a safe place for both her son and daughter to play together, and she opened the first gym in Tarzana, California.
Locally, the gym owners in Simpsonville are husband-and-wife team Kimberly and Chris Tolbert. Kimberly has been an educator for nearly 25 years with teaching certifications in special education and early childhood education. She’s taught special needs students aged kindergarten through 8th grade and has also taught at the collegiate level. Meanwhile, Christopher has spent 19 years in marketing and sales roles with credentials in business management, diversity, collaboration, and corporate business practices. They are the parents of two sons, Christopher Jf. and Kaleb.
EDWARDSVILLE — The staff at the Edwardsville Public Library will celebrate the start of its Summer Reading Program, “It’s Showtime at Your Library” with its annual kickoff party on Wednesday.
The celebration takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. in Edwardsville’s City Park, directly outside the library.
“As usual, there will be a lot to do and fun to be had,” Edwardsville Public Library Youth Services coordinator Kristen Reno.
She said the Edwardsville Library Friends (ELFs), who sponsor events and prizes offered during the summer, will also hold a Children’s Book Sale.
“We will be visited by the Ice Sister Princesses of Brittain’s Princess Parties, and they are excited to meet and take photos with the kids in attendance,” Reno added.
Community neighbors such as Watershed Nature Center, Edwardsville Children’s Museum, YMCA, and We Rock the Spectrum, will bring games and activities for families to try.
“The Bubble Bus is joining us again this year to entertain with music and bubbles of all shapes and sizes. Chef Shoppe will be donating popcorn for snacking, and everyone who attends the party will get a free ice cream treat from the Cool Times ice cream truck, thanks again to the ELFs,” Reno said.
Visitors can stop by the library’s information table at the party to learn more about registering for the Summer Reading Challenge which will be offered online this year through Beanstack. From Beanstack, registrants can log all of their reading, earn badges, and keep track of all of their summer activities.
The library also offers a reading challenge for adults.
“It’s a fun way to work books into your summer activities and earn the chance to win great prizes,” she said.
The Edwardsville Library’s Summer Reading Program officially begins May 28 and ends July 31. For more information, visit the library or check out its website at www.edwardsvillelibrary.org.
Kim Holcomb, Michael King, and Saint Bryan host from Mrs. Turner’s Diner in Puyallup. FEATURING: Hens 4 Hire, Rampathon at Warm Beach Horse Camp, Adult Skate Night at Pattison’s West, Vance Creek Rail Riders, and We Rock the Spectrum Sensory Gym in Bellevue.
Less than one year after launching in Australia, specialised gym franchise We Rock the Spectrum is making good on its promise to help special needs children across the country.
At the brand’s inaugural Team Australia conference, We Rock the Spectrum welcomed four new owners to the mix. The new operators will steer expansion across New South Wales and Victoria, with all gyms expected to open before year’s end.
The purpose-built centres incorporate specialised equipment such as slides, swings and zip-lines. All activities are aimed at aiding sensory and motor-skill development of children with processing disorders.
Sally Johnson is the Australian master franchisee who launched the model last year. The Victorian mum said the community support she has received has been truly inspiring.
“We’ve been so thrilled first off from a base level with the support from the local community with all of the things that we had hoped would happen in our single gym,” Johnson told Inside Franchise Business.
“We have a great mix of mainstream families and families with a special needs child. It’s been fantastic to see them learning from each other.”
Johnson revealed that since the Preston gym opened, she had been inundated with franchise enquiries.
“We had close to 200 enquiries come in. Nobody expected that, and what’s more, they were all amazing quality,” she said.
“They are coming from far-away places as well, perfectly positioned around the country. From Katherine to Margaret River, not places we’d put on our map.”
The latest four signings see We Rock the Spectrum unveil three sites in Victoria, at Geelong, Ringwood and Darebin, with New South Wales expansion in Wollongong and Western Sydney to follow.
“These were chosen as the initial round for a number of reasons, namely as they were people who stood out as ready to go, but also because they were in territories we knew would be successful and that had a real need,” Johnson said.
Johnson herself knows the importance of community programs and specialised businesses like this. Her son Digby was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD at age two, and she revealed a number of the new owners shared similar stories.
“We’ve seen interest from other families to open in their local communities. To be able to join with other passionate families who have their own history or experience in the sector has been really successful already,” she said.
Dina Kimmel, We Rock the Spectrum founder was there at the Team Australia conference and said she was humbled to see the impact her business had made on the Australian public.
“We have already boarded four new owners, we weren’t expecting to open past two, so it’s been a tremendous response,” Kimmel said.
“At the end of the day, I am simply a wife and mother of a child with autism who was inspired to create this model because we had nowhere else to go. Just talking to all of customers and the community both here and overseas is just gratifying beyond belief.”
Aussie expansion announced for We Rock the Spectrum | Inside Franchise Business
The We Rock the Spectrum story is remarkable one. Kimmel’s son Gabriel was diagnosed with autism at age two, prompting her to reassess her professional career.
“When you receive that diagnosis, like I did with my son Gabriel, I’ve never felt so lonely in my life,” Kimmel said.
“I just wanted to do anything and everything for my son, and I was seeking a community that didn’t exist five to ten years ago. The first We Rock the Spectrum gym was actually created in my home, and after seeing miracles happen with Gabriel and my daughter, who is not special needs, in terms of inclusion, I thought ‘there’s got to be more families out there who need this as well’.”
She was right. Within ten years We Rock the Spectrum has grown from one home-based gym to a network of over 80 locations worldwide.
Aside from its enormous presence in California and Florida, We Rock the Spectrum has also launched gyms in both Dubai and Canada over the last 12 months.
Kimmel revealed that further discussions are in the works for Saudi Arabia, with Malaysian and Singaporean growth expected to come this year.
“It’s an awesome thing that happens when you do something meaningful, you see a growth and it’s organic,” Kimmel said.
“It isn’t about growing too quickly or expanding rapidly, we really try and control that growth, and we’ve found that adding two countries per year works best.”
While international growth is certainly on the cards, for now the focus is firmly on Aussie expansion. Johnson revealed that the brand is likely to surpass its original target of 30 to 35 Australian gyms.
“Now just seeing the level of interest, not just from prospective owners but from regions, local councils and politicians saying ‘how can we help?’, I’m beginning to think that may have been conservative,” she joked.
The ‘mumpreneur’ believes that if the latest interest is anything to go by, We Rock the Spectrum will go a long way in achieving its business and cultural goals.
“We had a few tears over the weekend, not just appreciating the hard work that’s already paying off, but also the shift in the world that we’re a small part in creating. It’s heart-warming as a parent, not just as a business owner.”
Do you have a passion for working with children too? Take a look at these great franchising opportunities.
We Rock the Spectrum, a gym in Pomona, California that caters to children, including those with special needs, was burglarized, owners say. Now, they’re asking for help to fix damages and replace stolen merchandise.
We Rock the Spectrum, a gym in Pomona that caters to children, including those with special needs, was burglarized on Mother’s Day, the owners say. Now, they’re asking for help to fix damages and replace stolen merchandise. Steve Kuzj reports for the KTLA 5 Morning News on May 14, 2019.
POMONA, Calif. (KABC) — Cold-hearted thieves hit a Pomona gym that works with special-needs children, and cameras captured them swiping thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, including kids toys.
Katie Haines is the owner of We Rock the Spectrum, a play gym for kids of all ages and all needs.
“It was incredibly devastating because it was Mother’s Day and I am a mom,” she said.
Haines said her gym caters to all children, including those with special needs. She said it’s more than a gym, it’s a home.
Haines said the suspects stole about $3,000 worth of merchandise, including costumes and toys, and a computer and printer from the front counter.
They only opened in September, but their clients come from all over the area to play in the sensory-safe zone.
Kayla Hall, 14, is the karaoke manager and is angry because her sanctuary was damaged.
Kayla and the rest of her friends are now hoping someone will recognize the thieves in the video.
“I don’t know how someone could do this to a family business,” Haines said. “We are a small business and with our small business, we cater to a lot of families.”
Marked by musicality, the ‘berbuka puasa’ affair at 176 Avenue saw two great Malaysian singers under one roof: Ning Baizura and Atilia Haron belted out tune after tune to an appreciative audience primarily made up of parents and kids from We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym. Manicures, haircuts and an animated storytelling session kept everyone preoccupied until the golden hour of iftar.
PARENTING an autistic child is extremely demanding, and the lack of guidance and information can have a massive impact on the child’s development and ability to cope with real-life situations.
To highlight teaching techniques and offer an insight on the matter, a special project called Project Haans for Autism Awareness organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) students together with Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur was held.
The event, held at the medical centre, consisted of forums on the topic of parenting a child with autism as well as job coaching and inclusion. Additionally, a messy play demonstration by occupational therapists was conducted.
Event organiser and UKM postgraduate student from the Faculty of Education, Desiree Kaur, said, “Autism is a spectrum that manifests differently in each individual. UKM’s Faculty of Education (Special Education) course titled ‘Collaboration and Consultation in Education’ requires students to carry out a collaborative event with inclusive elements.
“Hence, the main purpose of this event is to collaborate with partners and provide a platform to share different perspectives for wider autism awareness and understanding. I am also a mother to a boy with autism and I hope Project Haans can be a guiding light or starting point for others out there who may be struggling for information.”Among the forum speakers were Nori Abdullah, co-founder of We Rock the Spectrum Ara Damansara, who is a mother to a boy with autism; and Mohd Adli Yahya, founder of Autism Café Project Malaysia, father to Luqman, a young man with autism.
They shared their journey as parents, the joys of parenting a special child and the challenges experienced.
Assoc Prof Dr Manisah Mohd Ali, a UKM lecturer whose area of study is Special Education, also shed light on the importance of inclusion from a young age, which could later help autistic children in gaining employment.
Another panellist was Joshua Teow, who is autistic and presently working, thanks to the guidance of his job coach.
Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s consultant development and general paediatrician Dr Raja Juanita Raja Lope said, “It is important to understand the diagnostic process where autism is concerned.
“Since autism is a spectrum, it is an ongoing process. Acceptance is key to help a child on the spectrum achieve their full potential and hopefully, attain independence as adults.”
Occupational therapists from Sensory Play and Pantai Integrated Rehab joined forces to conduct a “messy play” session with children aged six years and below.
(Messy play is a type of sensory activity which is crucial in developing a child’s senses, gross motor, fine motor, cognitive and social as well as emotional skills.)
It also served as a demonstration to the attendees consisting of students, teachers and parents to young children.
Attendees were shown how to conduct simple activities in their own home or even in the classroom.
Another highlight of Project Haans was the bazaar organised by Autism Café Project that offered food items, cookies, handicrafts and T-shirts for sale.
Autism Café Project is a social enterprise that helps autistic youths start their own small business. Most youths with autism find it difficult to find permanent employment. Starting their own small business allows them to earn and eventually, support themselves financially.
Project Haans for Autism Awareness brought together various individuals, all of whom are passionate about raising awareness of autism. The organiser hopes this would turn into an annual event held in conjunction with Autism Awareness month in April.
Devon and Octavia Brown welcomed members of the GSPACC for a gathering to celebrate their new ownership of We Rock The Spectrum, which they officially marked with a ribbon cutting ceremony. We Rock The Spectrum is located at 160 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park.
We Rock the Spectrum announces its Developmental Resource Fair — a day for families with children of all abilities to come together in awareness, understanding, and support. The event will be held at 160 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD 21146 on Saturday, April 27th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be local special needs vendors, event sponsors, food, ABA & OCT therapists, rockin’ music plus awesome deals & discounts! It will be a wonderful opportunity for families to become educated about what is available and feel the support of an entire community.
We Rock the Spectrum is a franchise opportunity that provides sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development. Each gym features ten pieces of therapeutic equipment. This equipment is specifically designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues that children on the spectrum face, while providing all children with the sensory-diet necessary for improved learning and neurological development. For example, the zip line helps children with vestibular sensations and sensory feedback, while allowing them to better develop upper-arm and core strength. Each We Rock the Spectrum location offers unique classes, children’s day camp opportunities, arts and crafts, additional pieces of play equipment, and more.
An autism mom from California, Dina Kimmel, is the CEO and Founder of We Rock the Spectrum. Kimmel opened the first gym in Tarzana, California after he son was diagnosed with autism and struggled to find a safe place where both her and her son and her daughter could go together.
The motto for all We Rock the Spectrum gyms is “Finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry!”
Octavia and Devon Brown are the new owners of We Rock the Spectrum – Severna Park. These two have a shared passion for serving the community.
Octavia is a social worker who has dedicated the last 12 years of her life working to encourage, empower, and uplift under-appreciated and under-served communities. Devon is an entrepreneur and has always had the belief that businesses are more than just for generating money but should be used to give back, uplift and serve the community. Octavia and Devon will bring their knowledge, resources, dedication and passion to We Rock the Spectrum – Severna Park! They are excited and proud to serve the families and children within their community.
The celebration is open to children of all abilities. Children will be able to play with all the specialized equipment, including the trampoline, swings, and the zip line. It will be held at 160 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD 21146 on Saturday, April 27th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 per child, and 20% of the proceeds will go to the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation.
Every evening, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and his wife Nori Abdullah print out the next day’s schedule for their son Timor, detailing all his activities for the entire day.
The timetable is illustrated with images and visuals of the following day’s activities. Should there be last minute changes to the schedule, his parents would prepare the 10-year-old for the disruption to his routine ahead of time.
Such schedules are crucial in helping Timor maintain a sense of calm and order.
Timor has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and, as with many children (and adults) on the spectrum, an adherence to routine is crucial. A sudden interruption to a set routine could make him anxious and lead to tantrums.
In the seven years since Timor was clinically diagnosed with autism, Khairy and Nori have had to face the realisation that their child understands the world differently and, as such, needs to be nurtured differently.
“Honestly, you never fully come to terms with or understand completely a child with ASD,” admits Khairy. “They live in a neurological world that is completely different to people who are neurotypical. I will never fully understand what the world is like through Timor’s eyes. It’s good, in a sense, because everyday we are evolving.”
Timor started showing signs that he was developing differently after he turned two.
“He started regressing and seemed to be in his own world a lot. By the time he was three, it was quite obvious that he had issues. On his third birthday, we noticed that he didn’t want to play with the other children and was just focused on the slide. We went to see a developmental pediatrician who diagnosed him with ASD,” Nori shares.
Timor with his self-portrait. Though the 10-year-old loves to ride horses, swim andplay Minecraft, his favourite pursuit of all is drawing.
Hearing that their son has autism wasn’t easy, admits Khairy.
“Initially, it was a shock because it was a diagnosis that he is different. As parents, we’ve had to change our life plans, dreams and ambitions for him. Modify them to take into account that he has ASD. But we knew that we had to help our child become independent,” says Khairy in an interview at their home recently.
As unprepared as they were, Khairy and Nori knew that they had to hit the ground running and do whatever it takes to help their son navigate the world.
Timor had gone for speech therapy even before his diagnosis, and he started learning using the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) method, one of the widely accepted therapies for children with autism.
At school, Timor is also taught life skills. He is now learning to memorise his parents’ phone numbers and his home address.
“Just in case he gets lost in the middle of a crowd or something, he needs to know this information,” explains Khairy.
Timor (in blue) gets along really well with his brothers Jibreil (in white) and Raif. Though they don’t spend all their time together, the three share a bond.
ASD is a neurological disorder, characterised by a cluster of symptoms that are often different in every child or adult, depending on the type and severity of their condition.
Individuals with autism often have impaired communication and social skills, scrambled sensory processing, delayed childhood development, an aversion to eye contact, tendencies towards repetitive behaviours and poor motor functions.
While there is no known cure for autism, early treatment and intervention can make a vast difference in the lives of those with ASD.
“We were never in denial. We just jumped into action, finding out what we had to do next. We started him on therapy right away and many things have happened along the way … we have evolved but everyday, we are still learning.
“Timor is in a good place right now but we know that it’s going to be a continuous effort. We don’t know what tomorrow will be like … his special needs are something we have to live with,” says Nori.
The best that he can be
Timor is the middle child of Khairy and Nori. He has an older brother, Jibreil, who is 11, and a younger brother, Raif, who is four.
“Jibreil, being a year older, is very familiar with his brother being on the spectrum. He understands the challenges. Because socialisation is a problem for Timor, the two of them don’t have long conversations that neurotypical brothers may share. But there is a close bond between the two. They may not talk, but they wrestle and rough each other up and play with each other.
“They are brothers and though they don’t spend all their time together, they realise that they are the closest person to each other than anyone else.
“And Raif? He seems to understand too. The way he treats Timor is different than the way he treats Jibreil. He is more respectful to Timor, actually,” shares Khairy.
Raif, adds Nori, hero worships his two brothers.
“He worships them both. We hope that this is him being aware and understanding their differences in a positive way.”
Like most children his age, Timor has many hobbies.
Like most children his age, Timor has many hobbies, says his father with pride. He loves to draw, swimming, inline skating, cycling … and he loves the alphabet. Timor loves Minecraft too.
“He rides horses, and he loves cold weather and snow. He is a happy child who has had a happy childhood and I personally think that he is an overall great kid,” says Khairy. About three years ago, Khairy spoke publicly about a watershed moment in his relationship with Timor after reading Uniquely Human, a book about autism written by Dr Barry M. Prizant.
“The fundamental message from that book is that we should stop trying to change the child (with ASD) to suit the world; we must change the world or our surroundings to accommodate children who are on the spectrum. That’s a big idea in neurological development thought and it has brought about a different way of approaching people with autism,” says Khairy.
So inspired were the couple by the book that they bought dozens of copies for friends and family, hoping to spread awareness about living with ASD.
Khairy and Nori recognise Timor’s unique talents and find ways to nurture them, on his own terms.
It also changed the way they approached Timor; it made them more aware of his unique talents and find ways to nurture them, on his own terms.
“We hope that he will grow up to be independent. As parents, I think we’d like to know that if we are not able to look after him 24/7, he will be able to do some of that on his own.
“We also want him to fulfill his potential. We don’t ever want to sell short our child with different abilities. Timor loves to draw … that’s one of his favourite pursuits and he is very good at it. He can draw straight lines without a ruler and in such detail.
“Who knows, he could grow up to be a draftsman or architect if he wants,” shares Khairy.
Access to therapy
Khairy and Nori are well aware that Timor is more fortunate than many in that he has access to early intervention and therapies.
To do their part in supporting other families, Nori has opened a special needs gym, a franchise from the United States called We Rock The Spectrum, to increase access to therapy for families who may not otherwise have the financial means to afford occupational and sensory integration therapy.
“Not everyone can afford therapy. It’s not cheap and it’s not that readily available. Timor has come as far as he has because he is so privileged to be able to get therapy and we want all children to be able to get therapy,” says Nori, adding that Timor wasn’t home during this interview as he was at the gym.
The indoor gym, open to both special needs and typical children, is equipped with specialised equipment used by therapists.
Khairy and Jibreil at the We Rock The Spectrum Gym for children at the launch about three years ago.
“We recently launched a programme called Therapy Through Play. The idea behind this is that everyone should have access to therapy. So we started a sponsorship programme to help families who really can’t afford the fee. Ideally, we want parents to come and learn what they can do to help their children too,” says Nori.
Timor’s parents’ message on Autism Awareness Month is, “Read up a little about autism. It may not affect you personally but there are many Malaysians on the spectrum and the greatest tragedy would be if, because society is unaware, we deny these children the opportunity to reach their potential.”
Autism rates have risen sharply across the United States over the last two decades, but services and support available to those on the spectrum have not kept pace.
In this Sound Ideas feature, GLT looks at how families in McLean County seek help for their children with autism and how those kids strive for independence as they become adults.
“I’m ready to go Easter Egg hunting,” Kevin Innis of Normal declared.
The 6-year-old boy does just that as mother Monica Innis watches.
ISU graduate student Alex Berry acts as a sensory-friendly bunny at We Rock the Spectrum’s Easter egg hunt in Bloomington.
Credit Becky Clark
This, however, is not your typical Easter Egg hunt. A relatively new Bloomington business called We Rock the Spectrum hosted the event with a limited number of children and what’s called a sensory-friendly Easter bunny.
It was owner Becky Clark’s idea.
“Some bunnies, they have the big heads on them and they are a little bit freaky looking to the kids,” Clark said. “So we specifically bought a costume for her that did not obscure her face so they could see her and see her eyes. We just wanted her to be low-key and play with the kids.”
Monica Innis said her son does well in school but social settings and highly charged sensory environments can overwhelm him. That’s exactly what We Rock the Spectrum is not.
“He goes to a mainstream classroom, he just gets some accommodations to help him out,” Innis said. “We do love having a place like this to come where we don’t have to say ‘Sorry.’”
That’s a common refrain for parents of children on the spectrum. Dezi Knipe of Normal said she wouldn’t think of taking her 6-year-old son Reece to a typical Easter egg hunt.
“We couldn’t go to the big one at the Corn Crib,” Knipe said. “(There’s) too many kids. There’s too much going on. It would lead to a meltdown. Here we are just hanging out and relaxing today.”
Jessica Janicki of Normal has two adopted children, ages 4 and 5, Amber and Chance, who have sensory sensitivity. Janicki said large crowds and loud noises are not good, though she added Chance can better manage a scene when he’s given structure. If not, Janicki said, there’s no fighting it.
“No, we typically just pack up and leave,” she conceded.
Janicki said that’s why she likes taking her kids to an indoor playground that caters to children with special needs but is welcoming to all kids.
“They understand when your child is having a meltdown, no one is looking at you,” she said. “They are all coming to offer you help which is really nice.”
Becky Clark opened the gym in January. It was open for a brief time previously under a different owner.
Clark lives in suburban Woodridge and works as a software developer in downtown Chicago. She took her 5-year-old son Eli to a We Rock the Spectrum in Palatine last year and thought it was a perfect place to host a birthday party for him.
“I just thought so many other moms who have kids with special needs or whose children are on the autism spectrum that they must feel the same way,” Clark said. “They can’t bring them to your regular birthday parties that all of their friends are inviting them to Chuck E. Cheese and things like that. It’s too loud of an environment. It just ends up being very stressful for the parents.”
There she learned the Bloomington franchise had recently closed. So she bought it and now she makes the 200-plus mile round trip commute twice a week.
Clark said the more controlled environment has benefited her son, but the gym’s mission is to be welcoming to all.
“We have a kid (visit) who was nonverbal and I think they just feel a sense of acceptance to be in the gym because nobody is saying they don’t belong here,” Clark said.
Autism Rates Rise
In less than a decade since the first We Rock the Spectrum opened, the concept has grown to more than 75 locations in 23 states and five countries.
Whether there are more children with autism than there used to be is not clear, but the number of children diagnosed has increased dramatically in recent years.
A group of volunteers formed the nonprofit Autism McLean in 2002 to educate parents and the community about the disorder few knew much about, perhaps because autism was considered extremely rare.
Board member Chuck Hartseil noted the autism rate at the time was about one in 10,000.
“It was just beginning to come on the scene,” he said.
Hartseil said in less than two decades, those diagnosed with autism has grown to 1 in 59 people, a near 170-fold increase.
Autism McLean board member Kari Sandhaas helped form an education campaign called Autism Friendly Community to create awareness and acceptance. She said the increase in autism has raised awareness on its own, but she suggested testing your own tolerance.
“Imagine a family with a child with autism that has a meltdown in a grocery store,” Sandhaas said. “Do they judge that parent or do they extend some understanding to that parent?”
Autism McLean lives entirely on donations and fundraisers, no state or federal dollars. It’s sought to raise awareness by distributing sensory bags to local museums and other points of interest. The bags contain noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys and visual communication cards that help children verbalize their thoughts when they become distressed.
None of this suggests parents can or should entirely shield their children on the spectrum from challenging environments. Prominent activist and author Temple Grandin said recently at Illinois State University she’s concerned an autism label stigmatizes children and that some parents stunt their child’s social and emotional development.
Temple Grandin spoke recently at Illinois State University about how autism doesn’t need to be a barrier to a successful and fulfilling life.
Credit Rosalie Winard
“Because I’m seeing parents become overprotective on having their kid learn the most basic, basic skills like just learning how to stop, learning how to budget money,” Grandin said.
Grandin wrote the book “Emergence: Labeled Autistic,” which challenges assumptions that someone on the autism spectrum can’t live a productive and fulfilling life. Her life story became a critically acclaimed HBO feature film starring Claire Danes.
Grandin spoke to a gathering at ISU to mark Autism Awareness month. Her message to parents: focus less on what their children can’t do and more on what they can, and lay the groundwork early to help them find success that will lead to a life of independence.
“We need to start that training for working at around age 11 with dog-walking jobs and church volunteer jobs, maybe playing cards with the residents at the old folks’ home or something like that,” Grandin said. “Things that we can find in the neighborhood.”
Children on the autism spectrum grow into adults on the spectrum; it’s not something you outgrow. But Grandin said many people with autism bring unique characteristics that can help them thrive in certain work environments.
They tend to be highly detail oriented, which is a critical skill for certain tasks. They follow directions precisely and they don’t tire of repetitive tasks.
Alex Moody of Normal has found his niche in the insurance business. He works at Country Financial in Bloomington in its workers’ compensation claims office.
“My job here at Country is to process the bills. I enter information on the computer. I print the checks, then I stuff them in the envelopes so they can get to where they need to go,” Moody said in describing his job.
Alex Moody works weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon in Country Financials workers’ compensation department.
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Moody is 32. He has worked at Country since 2011 and said he enjoys the job.
“It fits my job well because I am good at working with the bills,” he said.
Moody works 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. He said the only time he struggles is when there are loud noises nearby.
“When we moved here (a second time), we were over by the ice machine,” Moody said. “That was pretty loud and that made it difficult to concentrate.”
When that happens, he breaks out a sound machine. It mimics the ocean and other calming sounds that put him more at ease.
“It helps with blocking the noise as much as possible,” Moody said.
Roberta Brooks, the supervisor for workers’ comp claims at Country, is Alex’s boss.
“He’s very conscientious about his work, very reliable,” Brooks said, adding that Alex rarely misses a day of work. “When he does I get nervous. But Alex is wonderful.”
Brooks said the staff treats Moody just like they do all coworkers. She has to occasionally remind herself of one of Alex’s traits that’s common in those with autism. He takes instructions literally.
“I have a bad habit of sometimes using some jargon, some slang of sorts and Alex will pick up on that and he will question me further,” Brooks said. “I have to remember, Alex, he’s taking me very literally and I’m very conscious of that.”
Moody came to the insurance company through its Opportunity Country program. It works with Marcfirst in Normal to help find employment for those who have developmental disabilities.
In the 11 years since it was formed, Country has brought in Marcfirst clients for internships with the goal of hiring them when the internship is done. Country has hired each one of them. Alex is one of five hires who still works there.
Angela Allen oversees that program as Country’s Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager.
“Regardless of someone’s differences, we are open to working with people. It’s really about creating a space where we can all get to know each other and work and do our best jobs here,” Allen said.
Allen oversees inclusion training for Country’s 3,000 employees, about 1,800 of those are in McLean County.
The training isn’t mandatory, but she said the company “highly encourages” it. She said the training rate is nearly 100 percent. It’s a two-hour course for most. Managers take four hours.
Partnering with Marcfirst, Allen said, has done more than just provide job opportunities for its clients. It has also helped foster a more diverse workforce at Country.
“The differences of understanding, the differences we bring help us to work better together,” she said. “I really think creating an inclusive environment and having an understanding of what that really means, I think we all benefit from that.”
While County Financial and other employers have opened their doors to developmentally disabled employees, that case is more the exception than the rule.
Marcfirst CEO Laura Furlong noted nationally one in 10 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities finds work. For people with autism, the number is even lower.
Barriers to Work
Those on the spectrum face barriers before they even get the job. Marcfirst tries to help clients find employment suitable to their skills.
“People who are able to understand systems, especially when something is done in a consistent way, finding tasks in which that person is able to do things without a large amount of judgment is often a good fit,” said Anne Taylor, Marcfirst’s vice president of customized employment and grants.
Then there’s the job interview. Marcfirst will sometimes sit in to reassure the interviewee and interviewer.
“Our main goal is to make sure that person is able to show their best selves,” Taylor said. “In order to do that, having that person at the forefront and then being there just to facilitate if there is any point where the question may need may be something that needs more explanation.”
Another barrier for those on the autism spectrum is transportation. Most can’t drive, and public transportation isn’t always readily available for some.
Kari Sandhaas with Autism McLean said getting behind the wheel requires a level of coordination and anticipation. That, she said, can be difficult to process.
“You can’t really predict exactly what the others (drivers) are going to do,” Sandhaas said. “Are they going to follow the rules of the road? People with autism follow rules exceptionally well, but they expect others to do as well.”
Marcfirst boasts it has been able to find work for 60 percent of its clients who are seeking employment. Chuck Hartseil with Autism McLean said most jobs those with autism land are entry level and sometimes non-competitive, through what’s called job carving, assigning specific and limited tasks that offer low pay and little opportunity for advancement.
“There are parts of the job that individual could complete, but not the whole job,” Hartseil said. “Is a business willing to look at that and analyze what they are doing to make those kinds of decisions and would you then make the same rate of pay if you reduce what type of work that individual is going to do?”
Hartseil’s son Austin is 22 and has moderate to severe autism. He’s been able to find his own employment niche through a family business as a candle maker.
“My wife jokes with him (saying), ‘If I’m going to do this, we’ll make it Jackie’s Candles.’ (He replies) “Oh no, it’s Austin’s Candles,’” Hartsail said. “He has taken that ownership and pride in regards to that and that is phenomenal for him.”
A developmental disability can be tough on parents as well as the child as everyone seeks ways to navigate a challenging life. Janicki said that’s the good thing that higher autism rates and awareness have fostered.
“There’s a lot more,” Janicki said. “There’s a lot of support groups and I think Facebook leads to a lot more moms connecting with kids with social needs. I know there’s a lot of support groups in the churches in the area as well.”
Above all, parents of autistic children say they want understanding.
“That awareness and people accepting, that needs to keep happening and people need to know it’s out there and know how to help and not judge the differences that come with that and the different needs that come with that,” Knipe said. “I’m glad it’s out in the forefront more now that it has been in the past.”
Clark said she has seen her son blossom since opening We Rock the Spectrum and having a regular playground home that specifically serves his needs.
“I just want to raise them with the awareness that everybody is different and that doesn’t make him, I don’t know, bad in any way,” Clark said.
Clark said she’s working to make the business a clearinghouse of resources for parents to find out where they can get help for their children.
She added if We Rock the Spectrum succeeds in Bloomington, she might look to add another location in the Chicago area.
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Normal, Ill. (HOI) – A McLean County gym for kids is making sure Easter is for everyone this week with sensory-friendly egg hunts.
We Rock the Spectrum promotes themselves as an inclusive space for all kids to play, including those with special needs.
Thursday they hosted their first egg hunt of the week to allow a sensory-friendly Easter celebration with a low-key bunny, snacks, craft and of course eggs!
Owner Rebecca Clark says she knows the important of these special events because her son is on the autism spectrum.
“That’s the idea behind the sensory-friendly event where it’s not too crazy, not too chaotic but fun and memorable for the families,” said Clark.
The egg hunts are done in small groups to allow kids the time and space they need for their search.
The next egg hunt is Saturday, April 20th from 9am- 12pm.
Children on the autism spectrum can hunt for Easter eggs at a Bloomington gym that specializes in serving children with special needs.
We Rock the Spectrum hosted its first Easter egg hunt yesterday and hosts another hunt from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Owner Becky Clark said she limits the number of children to create a safer, more controlled environment and includes a sensory-friendly Easter Bunny.
“Some bunnies they have the big heads on them and they are a little but freaky looking to the kids, so we specifically bought a costume for her that did not obscure her face so they can see her and see her eyes,” Clark said. “We just wanted her to be low key and play with the kids.”
Parents said it was nice to take their children out without having to say ‘I’m sorry.’
Reece Knipe, 6, was among the dozen children who looked for Easter eggs at a sensory-friendly event Thursday at We Rock the Spectrum in Bloomington.
Dezi Knipe of Normal said it was less hectic than your typical Easter egg hunt, which is just right for her six-year-old son Reece.
“We couldn’t go to the Corn Crib, (there’s) too many kids, there’s too much going on, it would lead to a meltdown,” Knipe said. “We are kind of just hanging out and relaxing today.”
Clark reopened the business in January after its previous owners closed it last year. She knew about We Rock the Spectrum by visiting another franchise location in the Chicago suburb of Palatine as a playground for her 5-year-old son Eli to play.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.
BLOOMINGTON, IL. – Exercise for adults is important, but it’s even more crucial for growing children.
Saturday, a gym for kids celebrated its grand opening with a developmental resource fair and a day full of fun.
We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym is an indoor play-scape that provides a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together.
Bonnie Brown, a parent of a child with autism, said she’s excited that the gym is open and that she can get her child involved because there aren’t many places like it in her community.
“I think the earlier you can get your kids involved when they have some type of high functioning autism or autism in general is just going to help them,“ Brown said.
The gym is equipped with ten pieces of specialized play equipment. The equipment is specially designed for We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gyms with the developmental needs of children with sensory processing disorders in mind.
A gym in Williamsburg designed for children with special needs has changed hands, and will host its “grand re-opening” on Saturday.
We Rock the Spectrum — an indoor gym with 10 sensory-safe pieces of play equipment for children with autism, special needs and neurotypical development — will celebrate the re-opening Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its facility, 5251 John Tyler Highway, Suite 2, according to a news release from the gym.
The event is open to the public. Admission will be $12, 20 percent of which goes to the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation.
We Rock the Spectrum is part of an international gym franchise opened by a Californian mother in 2010. The franchise in Williamsburg was opened in 2017 by Lena and Mike White.
The gym has equipment designed to help children with sensory processing issues, a common issue children on the autism spectrum face. The gym has a zipline, trampolines, swings and more.
On Feb. 21, the White family announced they were leaving their “beloved gym,” and a new owner would be taking over.
“We love the gym we have built and are proud to have brought it not only to Williamsburg, but to have been the first family ever to have opened a We Rock location in all of Virginia as well,” the family wrote in the post.
The following day, the gym Facebook page announced Kimberly Moore, a Williamsburg native who has a 7-year-old son on the autism spectrum, as the new owner.
Moore and her son, Aiden, were customers at the gym before Moore became the new owner.
Moore has a degree from Christopher Newport University in psychology and worked for 12 years managing two local hotels for Colonial Hospitality.
Customers and potential customers can meet Moore and Aiden during the re-opening event.
“We Rock the Spectrum is not just a kids gym. It’s a place that your child can discover, learn and play, in their own way and at their own pace,” Moore said. “It’s a place where parents can come together and talk about the struggles, the challenge of finding adequate services, and the developmental breakthroughs. It’s a place that you can drop off your little one for a few hours and have the peace of mind that the person watching your child understands them.”
If the playground, park and movie routine is getting a little tired, why not do something different with the kids this weekend? From arcade arenas to whale watching, these events will win approval from everyone in the family.
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Playdate Connection is hosting a Paw Patrol Party this Wednesday at The Playroom, an indoor play space for children. The event will include a meet and greet of Chase the Police Dog, balloon animals and temporary tattoos, alongside food and drinks. RSVP before the event to receive a free goodie bag.
When: Thursday, January 30, 4 p.m.
Where: The Playroom, 14392 Ventura Blvd.
Grab the family and stop by entertainment center Family Arcade, which houses over 200 arcade games, air hockey and more. The deal includes two vouchers — for one arcade visit and 120 tokens each.
Where: Family Arcade, 876 N. Vermont Ave., Central LA
Price: $30 (32 percent discount off regular price)
We Rock The Spectrum, a safe play-space for children on the spectrum to explore, learn and socialize, is offering deals on all-day passes, birthday party packages and a one month membership. Purchases will ensure access to all gym amenities and the craft area.
Where: We Rock The Spectrum, 5520 Crebs Ave., Tarzana
Price: $10.50 (48 percent discount off regular price); $156 (48 percent discount off regular price)
Climb aboard “The Fiesta” for a day of whale watching and snacking. The deal offers multiple vouchers for a 3.5-hour whale-watching nature cruise for parties of one, two or four.
Where: 141 W. 22nd St., Coastal San Pedro
Price: $15 (57 percent discount off regular price); $27 (61 percent discount off regular price); $50 (76 percent discount off regular price)
A purpose-built gym designed for children with special needs, with customised equipment including slides, swings and ziplines has opened in the Melbourne suburb of Preston.
Equipment in the Australian-first gym, We Rock The Spectrum, a franchise of the USA brand, has been designed by occupational therapists with the aim of aiding the sensory development of children with processing disorders, while providing additional motor skill development.
Local mother, Sally Johnson and master franchisor behind the Preston opening and was inspired to bring the concept to Australia after seeing the benefits first-hand.
She explained “within my own special needs community, I see the desire families have to connect with one another.
“I also see how great families feel when they know their children are benefiting from activities that help them regulate their sensory needs, while having fun.”
Johnson’s son Digby was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD at age two, and the pair struggled to find play centres where he felt included.
After learning about the We Rock The Spectrum model, Johnson traveled to the USA to see the gyms for herself, meeting with founder Dina Kimmel, who shares a familiar story.
Kimmel developed the specialised concept in 2010 after her two year old son, Gabriel was diagnosed with Autism, allowing families with special needs children to engage in sensory-beneficial activities.
Now in its fourth year of franchising, We Rock The Spectrum has over 70 locations across the globe, with the Preston opening marking the third international franchise and first for Australia.
While franchising some sectors of the fitness industry is seen as reaching saturation, the We Rock The Spectrum model caters to a traditionally under-represented market.
According to a recent study from AMAZE, Victoria’s peak body for Autism Spectrum Disorder, only 4% of autistic Australians feel their community knows how to properly support them.
For more information www.werockthespectrumkidsgym.com and www.werockthespectrumaustralia.com/
Louise Larkin was driving to work in Melbourne when she heard a little boy’s mother on the radio talking about how no one had showed up to his sixth birthday party.
The 34-year-old was so heartbroken by Logan Camilleri’s story that she decided to throw a celebration for all lonely and isolated children in her community to encourage social inclusion.
Three years later and Mrs Larkin is preparing to host the third ‘Friend In Me’ party at Seaworks Maritime Precinct, Williamstown, with interpreters and ‘sensory rooms’ available for deaf and autistic children.
Her message is simple – no child should be left behind.
Louise Larkin (left) was driving to work in 2016 when she heard Logan Camilleri’s (right) mother on FOX FM radio. Logan has spina bifida, a birth defect resulting in spinal cord problems
Logan (pictured), who has spina bifida, was gifted an incredible birthday party of his own when he turned seven, with radio station FOX FM organising Transformers, celebrities and jumping castles for the young boy
‘I only had my daughter Giselle then [she now has three-month-old Florence too] and I just kept thinking “Imagine if that was my child feeling left out? How would she feel?”,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘It was really sad for his mother as well. So I reached out to my contacts in mother’s groups on Facebook and put together a party for kids in our area. There were 350 people there.
‘We doubled that number last year and hope to reach more than 1,000 people this time around.’
Ah, the dreaded “I’m bored.”
It’s the least favorite phrase of parents everywhere. And sometimes, no amount of telling your kids to go read a book, play outside or even watch TV will solve the conundrum of a child with a short attention span and too much energy to burn.
So what’s a parent to do? Check out one of these newer Chicago area play places the next time your kids have a case of the blahs.
Where: 3108 S. IL-59, Suite 144, Naperville
The average second-grader may not be interested in learning how to code, but you can bet they’re up for an afternoon of video game playing. At the recently opened Code Ninjas location in Naperville, kids 7-14 learn computer programming, robotics and problem solving while building video games they already love, like Roblox and Minecraft.
What kids will love: At Code Ninjas, everything is martial arts themed, presenting learning in a less intimidating way. Classrooms are called ‘dojos,’ teachers are referred to as ‘senseis’ and kids earn a different ‘belt’ as their skills progress.
What parents will love: Watching children build confidence, discipline and STEM skills in a fun and safe environment. Plus flexible drop-in class times and camp schedules make it easier for families to work Code Ninjas into their busy schedules.
Where: 553 E. Dundee Road, Palatine
Every child deserves a safe and supportive play environment. We Rock the Spectrum is Chicagoland’s first sensory gym, featuring both open play and classes for infants through age 13.
What kids will love: Trampolines, swings, arts & crafts and even a zip line (with crash pit) offer endless opportunities for exploration and skill building. Classes like yoga and music therapy make learning a fun experience for littles.
What parents will love: Parents can rest assured their little ones are enjoying themselves safely while also developing social skills, improving sensory processing and increasing strength.
Where: 1801 Knapp, Crest Hill
This Crest Hill activity center boasts age-appropriate group play for toddlers through teens. Littles will find creative stimulation in classes like music, movement and mini yoga. Children 6 and older can join one of the “clubs,” which include activities like dance, cheer, video and board game playing and arts & crafts. Plus, an inclusive playgroup is available for children with special needs.
What kids will love: The sheer variety of activities mean children will never run out of things to do, and The A’s Club’s Fun Coordinators help make group play engaging and entertaining.
What parents will love: Three words: Parents. Night. Out. Enjoy a kid-free evening at an affordable cost ($8.75 per hour or $35 flat rate for four hours, plus kids are fed dinner). While you’re away, kids will enjoy board games, karaoke, movies, crafts and story time.
Where: Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake Cook Road, Northbrook
We’ve all visited mall play places that feel less than hygienic. Northbrook Play is not your average free indoor playground. This play area (designed by the Chicago Children’s Museum) offers families a bright and creative space to get the wiggles out while you shop.
What kids will love: Playdates, anyone? Kids will jump at the chance to hang with friends and play dress up, climb playground equipment or snap some pics at the selfie station.
What parents will love: Did we mention it’s FREE? Enjoy all of the fun of a museum exhibit without spending a dime. Not to mention practical perks like a phone charging station and designated nursing area make Northbrook Play a must stop during your next shopping adventure.
Where: 7037 N. Central Ave., Skokie (additional locations in Chicago and Oswego)
Offering wall-to-wall trampolines, a rock climbing wall and trampoline games, kids and parents will jump for joy over this all ages play space.
What kids will love: Whether they’re in the mood to battle it out over extreme dodgeball and trampoline basketball, or would rather simply bounce around, kids of every age will have a blast getting their energy out at Altitude.
What parents will love: A monitored trampoline court for younger children, plus designated toddler jump time means less worry about little ones getting hurt while playing.
Where: 4845 W. 111th St., Alsip
Nothing beats cabin fever like a 30,000-square-foot indoor play area filled with playground equipment, imaginative play centers and an arcade. Luv 2 Play even offers six-month memberships at a discount, so you can visit as many times as you like when the weather is bad.
What kids will love: Slides, tubes and obstacle courses will keep children in motion for hours. When they’re done running amok on the playground, kids can get some downtime building at the kinetic sand area.
What parents will love: No more stuffing your bag to the brim with granola bars and water bottles. The play center has a full-service cafe, perfect for grabbing a snack for the kids and extra caffeine for parents. There’s also a “relaxing area” where the grownups can score free Wi-Fi and comfy seating.
Where: 25 S. La Grange Road, La Grange
This light, airy spot that is a combo playplace, retail boutique and cafe gives you plenty of reasons to dream about sunny days.
What kids will love: A custom-built clubhouse with two slides, a reading corner and multiple play zones with toys.
What parents will love: Space to relax and shop while the kids play, plus freshly brewed coffee.
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Dubai, part of an American “play with purpose” franchise with playgrounds across the world, won the Highly Commended Sports Experience recognition at the Time Out UAE Kids Awards, a publication that is widely known as families’ intelligent guide to parenting. In addition, the gym was awarded Best Party Venue in the emirate by Mother, Baby & Child magazine, one of the biggest parenting magazines in Dubai.
Behind We Rock the Spectrum, the gym that is changing the face of sensory edutainment in Dubai, is Dr. Nashila Farrah Jaffer. A mum of two girls, the chiropractor’s dreams and goals for the venue stem from a deep belief in children’s potential, including those with developmental delays of all types.
“I have been in the medical practice for 18 years now and, over the years, I have seen more and more cases of children with developmental delays such as gross motor and postural weakness, in addition to back pain in very young age groups,” says Dr. Jaffer.
“I believe that the reason for this is the sedentary lifestyle that we are leading compared to, say, 15 years ago when iPads and smart phones didn’t exist. In the past, children led more active lifestyles, so kicking a football around or playing in the garden were part of daily life. Nowadays, they go to school from such an early age and have regular routines when they should really be actively learning through movement,” she adds.
Movement, Dr. Jaffer highlights, is essential for the development of children’s neurological system, as 90% of stimulation to the brain comes from movement of the spine.
“Being a mother myself, I know how important it is for my children to get active every single day. Thankfully, Dubai’s parks are a fantastic way to keep children moving, encouraging a healthy lifestyle during winter months. However, it is not the easiest task to find things to do during the hot summer,” says Dr. Jaffer.
“So, when I came across We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, I thought it would be perfect for Dubai as an indoor playground where children can fulfil their sensory and motor development needs while having fun. I call the concept ‘Play with a Purpose’,” she adds.
In 2017, Dr. Jaffer launched the flagship gym in Jumeirah, and it garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from parents. We Rock the Spectrum Kids’ Gym had finally catered to the needs of many mums, ones who longed for such a facility where their children could work out and have fun at the same time.
Parents were also happy to see an extensive list of activities on offer at the gym, which is the first of its kind in the UAE.
“We have Open Play, where you can come with your child at any time of the day, just like a regular gym, so you don’t need to book in advance – just show up. We encourage parents to play with their children, but also have a Drop ‘n’ Shop option where we can supervise and care for your child for an hour or two,” says Dr. Jaffer.
“We have kids’ fitness, dance and drama classes and science workshops. Plus, birthday parties, a coffee shop and free Wi-Fi. We also work very closely with occupational, speech & language therapists and child experts who offer free monthly workshops at the gym to help educate parents on child development, called the Children’s Wellbeing Series” she explains.
The gym’s parties have been among its most successful offerings, with parents bringing in their children for themed events where they can play with friends in a colourful environment with plenty of activities to keep them entertained.
“In a day and age where electronics are so readily available, it is important for children to get into good habits early on and understand that movement is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Just as adults go to the gym and exercise to keep fit, the same should be applicable to children. If we can encourage the importance of exercise from a young age, we will avoid health problems later on in life,” she adds.
At We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym, which follows the same guidelines as the international franchise, there are ten pieces of equipment specifically designed to promote sensory stimulation, boosting kids’ development as they play. This is in addition to a Calming Room where they can relax after their energetic session.
“We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym welcomes children as young as one year old. There are swings to help with spatial awareness and movement. Plus, soft play toys, role play, and arts and crafts to bolster fine motor skills, as well as social skills through interacting with other little ones. From birth to the age of five, a child’s brain develops more quickly than at any other time in their life,” says Dr. Jaffer.
“Scientific research has made it clear that the quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of their life helps shape how the brain develops. Therefore, I would encourage movement and activity as early on as possible,” she advises.
We Rock the Spectrum’s equipment is also unique, with each and every piece serving a different purpose.
“There are ten pieces of equipment that can be found in every We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. These specialised pieces are all designed to stimulate children’s neurological system. For example, the climbing apparatus enhances body awareness and scheme, motor planning and bilateral coordination. The child’s body weight, combined with gravity, provides additional proprioceptive feedback to the joints, helping them coordinate their movement,” says Dr. Jaffer.
The bolster swing provides a side-to-side motion, which aids motor planning and sequencing activity. As for the trampoline, it builds lower body strength and helps teach balance, hence providing a full body workout.
“The zip line, which is by far the most popular piece of equipment in the gym, is a great way to build upper extremity strength and muscle endurance. It also enhances the child’s ability to integrate and tolerate movement and boosts self-confidence as children challenge themselves to hold on long enough to get to the crash pit at the other end,” says Dr. Jaffer.
The zip line is one of many ways through which children work out without taking part in rigorous sports activity which can be unappealing to some. For example, children on the autism spectrum, to whom the gym also caters.
“The equipment found at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gyms, including our Dubai branch, is similar to that which is used in occupational therapy offices to help children on the spectrum, or others, who experience sensory processing difficulties. Statistics show that as many as one in six children experience sensory symptoms that could affect their everyday lives,” says Dr. Jaffer.
The gym, an all-inclusive environment, is open to young ones of all ages and abilities to go and play, with the aim of ensuring that their time spent at the venue yields positive results.
“We encourage parents to come and play with their children as it helps parent-child bonding and promotes social interaction in a place where everyone is welcome. We know occupational therapy clinics tend to have long waiting lists, and can often be unaffordable, so we want parents to know that we’re here to help,” she adds,
Dr. Jaffer concludes: “The gym is fully inclusive as we encourage children of all abilities to learn, play and grow together in a safe environment, supervised by fully trained staff. We do not divide children into separate groups – all kids play together at We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Dubai.”
We Rock The Spectrum, a popular gym that provides a safe play space for children – including kids on the spectrum, reopens under new ownership.
The bright and cheerful indoor gym, operated by new owner Kimberly Moore, offers fun, educational, and motivational activities for all children – but with a special focus on children with sensory processing disorders such as autism.
The previous owners, Mike and Lena White, opened the location in May 2017, but a military deployment forced them to close. That is when Moore stepped in. “I received an email that the business was up for sale. I knew the moment I read it that it was something I had to do. This gym provides so many families in Williamsburg the resources they need for special needs children to develop to their full potential,” she says. “I could not see it close.”
For Moore, finding adequate services for children with special needs was one of those struggles and a motivating factor in her decision to purchase the gym. “It’s a place that you can drop off your little one for a few hours and have the peace of mind that the person watching your child understands them. I cannot think of a better business to raise my son around,” she says.
The Williamsburg We Rock the Spectrum location offers a variety of exercise equipment, play areas, and learning opportunities that inspire – but not overwhelm the senses. Visitors are able to utilize suspended devices such as swings, a trampoline, climbing structures, crash mats and pillows, sensory-based toys, and an arts and crafts area – all to help improve core strength and balance, fine motor skills, auditory processing, and stress release. There’s even a zip line.
Open Play, where children can explore the gym and interact with their parents and other kids, is available most days, and other activities such as Parents Night Out, birthday parties, and Character Days scheduled throughout the month. “Character Days are private events where kids can experience characters – like the Easter Bunny, in a non-crowded setting. This is important for kids on the spectrum,” she says.
Community service and support is important to Moore who feels a special connection to the Historic Triangle. She was born and raised in Williamsburg and is a graduate of Bruton High School. She received her degree in Psychology from Christopher Newport University and has 12 years of local management experience. She is also a single mom. “It’s a blessing to now be able to bring Aiden to work with me and continue to work on the activities that he is currently focusing on in therapy,” she says.
Curious moms and dads can meet Moore and tour the facility during the grand re-opening celebration held on Saturday April 6, 10am-5pm. The event will feature music, face-painting, raffles and more, plus refreshments provided by local businesses.
DAPHNE, Ala. (WKRG) — In tonight’s What’s Working, we take you a place where children with special needs can let loose and have fun. It’s a new kid’s gym in Daphne that opens a week from Sunday. It’s called “We Rock the Spectrum Daphne.” It’s a place where typical children and those with special needs can play together. “We Rock the Spectrum” is a national franchise and the first location in Alabama.
Owners, Kevin and Maura Coley, wanted to open a place where special needs children could feel safe while enjoying themselves. Maura has worked with special needs children as a speech pathologist. The “We Rock” gym provides sensory-safe play for children with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development. The zip line and many swings are the highlight.
“We really encourage total inclusion. It’s good for our kids with special needs, and it’s great for our kids who are typically developing. The more opportunities we give to our kids to play together, the more opportunities they have to learn and grow together,” Maura said.
The gym also has a calm room where children who might be over-stimulated can go to relax. It’s around the corner from the main play area.
Mom, Mollie Robinson, loves having a place where her young son, Simon, can enjoy himself. Simon is four years old and has Down Syndrome. She got a special sneak peek at the gym this week.
From a zip line, indoor play structures and sensory-based toys to suspended equipment with swings, crash mats and pillows, plus a fine motor arts and crafts area, We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym is Dubai’s ultimate edutainment venue.
“Play with purpose is about kids playing and having fun while developing physically, cognitively and socially. We’re passionate and committed to creating experiences for young ones to learn and grow,” says Dr Nashila Farrah Jaffer, the chiropractor and entrepreneur behind the international franchise’s arrival to Dubai.
Through movement, little ones improve their range of motion, balance, muscle strength, coordination and endurance. “We encourage kids of all ages and abilities to interact with eachother in harmony,” adds Dr Nashila. “You’ll see a two-year-old and nine-year-old playing side by side, it’s beautiful.”
We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym is a sensory hub. Every piece of equipment is designed to stimulate certain parts of the brain through movement.
EDWARDSVILLE/COLLINSVILLE – St. John’s Community Care and We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is partnering to host Intergenerational music classes. Intergenerational Music is the bringing together of children and the elderly for an enjoyable session of fun and music resulting in bridging the ages.
St. John’s Community Care is a faith-based organization offering help to people challenged by aging and disabilities by offering aging and dementia care support services and resources in the river bend community since 1985.
We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms has been in Edwardsville a little over a year and was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. Franchise owner, Jennifer Range said the thought of offering Intergenerational Music Classes came to her when she saw a senior gentleman getting off a van in front of St. John’s Community Care’s Edwardsville Day Program facility, which is next store to Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. She said he looked so sad, which started her thinking of ways to brighten his day. She’d heard of music therapy classes for the elderly and specifically remembered seeing something about Intergenerational Music on Facebook.
13-year-old Brandon loves to explore and try new things so We Rock the Spectrum was the perfect place for his adventure. This sweet teen has lived without a family for more than nine years. He’s ready to settle into one family and start moving forward with his life. He enjoys being active. Brandon also has a little wish. He would like a pair of roller skates! If you would like to learn more about becoming part of Brandon’s life or granting his little wish, please call the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition at 1-800-FOSTER3. A special thank you to “We Rock the Spectrum.” For more information about open gyms and other events, please visit werockthespectrumfentonmo.com.
Thanks to an English teacher’s recommendation, Prospect High School senior Natalie Pizzato will paint a rock wall mural in the first “sensory gym” franchise of its kind in the Chicago area.
This week, Pizzato is packing up her art gear and getting ready to paint at We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym, prior to its planned Saturday, Oct. 6 opening. The gym is located in the Northwest Shopping Center in Palatine on Dundee Road.
Arlington Heights resident and gym owner Mary Alice Gilgunn can’t wait to see Pizzato’s creative vision take form. Gilgunn, a former speech-language pathologist who worked for Park Ridge-Niles School Dist. 64, knows the importance of correct sensory input and how beneficial motor play is to a child’s development.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Parents of children with autism have a chance to help researchers understand it better through a ground-breaking new local study.
So far, researchers have identified hundreds of genes that may increase the risk for autism, but they say there are likely thousands of genes involved.
This study aims to pinpoint those genes to help find better treatments.
Nuris Artigas Vaello, 7, is in her happy place swinging at the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym.
“That’s her thing. Swinging is her thing,” said her father, Alex Vaello.
Her parents say Nuris has always been a happy child, but when she was around two years old, they noticed she wasn’t meeting some developmental milestones. By age three she was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum.
BRANDON (FOX 13) – It’s hard to believe less than two years ago 6-year-old Lizzie could barely talk or socialize with others.
Lizzie is just one of the dozens of children who go to We Rock the Spectrum in Brandon to play and learn. The full-inclusion, indoor sensory gym welcomes all kids and abilities but specializes in sensory-safe experiences. It’s the perfect place for Lizzie, who has sensory needs and speech delay.
“She’s made a lot of progress. She’s talking more and making more eye contact. It’s really neat to see Lizzie come out and learn more with us,” said occupational therapist, Vanessa Fox.
Vanessa works alongside We Rock the Spectrum owner Valerie Bailey. Together, they cater to each child’s individual needs.
“We are able to help children of all abilities. They can come here with their siblings. They can play and have fun and get out their energy,” Valerie explained to FOX 13.
Arnold resident Paige Bradtmueller is only 8-years-old, and one of the youngest independent business owners on the Broadneck Peninsula.
She started her business, Fidget Stones by Paige when, “we were sitting at the table with some clay,” her mom, Gillian Bradtmueller said. “She was just creating.”
Gillian said to her “I can post them online,” and they just took off.
Paige said, fidget stones are clay disks “with a thumb print in the center that you rub when you are stressed, have anxiety and so much more. It helps to calm and relax the mind and body.”
Paige creates customized Fidget Stones, and sells them to area merchants such as E.L. Company, 4530 Mountain Road in Pasadena, We Rock the Spectrum 160 Ritchie Highway Suite A-3 (Earleigh Heights Plaza), Severna Park, and 1st Class Gymnastics, 451 Defense Hwy. in Annapolis as well as creating custom orders.
In addition to her stones and keychains, she recently branched into necklaces for when a fidgetier doesn’t have keys or pockets. That would allow users to wear fidget stones around their neck and it will always be there for when they need it.
Fidget stones are much more acceptable to teachers when their students need to fidget, Paige said. That is because “They are the perfect size to put into your pocket, purse, wallet, just about anywhere you need one handy.” They don’t create a disruption such as the recently popular fidget spinners.
We can’t blame the school systems for closing Wednesday, Sept. 5. New Orleans wasn’t exactly slammed by Gordon, but these things can be hard to predict. Remember when they said Katrina was heading toward Florida?
So now the kiddos are home, and what are you gonna do all day? Assuming you can play hooky from work, or some wonderful grandparents or other relatives or friends are willing to pitch in, here are some ideas.
“A sensory kids’ gym like this is for kids of all abilities… whether they have special needs or do not, they can enjoy it,” owner Brandi Boyd told NOLA.com. Read more here and visit the gym’s website here. It’s open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 5, features wildlife-themed crafts.
We have something truly special lined up for you this Sunday, August 26, 2018! Tune into The Sunday Journal on KOST 103.5 between 6:30am – 7:00am and hear this story that will rock your world! The founder of “My Brother Rocks The Spectrum” and owner of “We Rock The Spectrum” Kids Gym in Tarzana, CA – Mrs. Dina Kimmel and new WRTS gym owner of the Pomona, CA location – Katie Haines share their personal stories of how this whole thing started. If you know of anyone within the Autism spectrum, this might really interest them. Help us spread the news and hear about the wonderful things happening at “We Rock The Spectrum” gyms worldwide!
Listen below or click here.
Taking your kids to the park or a play centre poses challenges for many families that others are unaware of. One of my own children struggled with loud noises until he was four. A loud speaker, party whistle, even a busker would make him anxious so we modified where we went and what we did in those first years. Anxiety is something parents of kids who struggle with social skills often experience taking their kids to a playground. I once had a single dad as a patient tell me that he had stopped taking his son with autism to the local playground because any time he went another parent would pick a fight with him about his son’s challenging behaviour. I wish We Rock the Spectrum had been around then because I’m sure it would have become his safe haven.
We Rock the Spectrum is an all abilities children gym that opened this weekend in Melbourne (Preston). The gym is a safe and fun place space for ALL children. As we enter We Rock the Spectrum the first thing I notice is a sign that says “Finally a place where you don’t have to say I’m sorry”. A really simple statement I know, but one that will bring a sigh of relief to parents of special needs kids. The gym is suitable for children from babies to kids aged 12. The brilliance of We Rock the Spectrum hinges on a a few key features – overt inclusion of children and families who have kids with special needs, a high children to helper ration – there are many appropriately trained adult staff on hand to assist children use the gym equipment (designed with occupational therapy input) and support parents if challenging behaviours occur. The presence of a quiet room is a bonus. Children prone to sensory overstimulation can retreat to a quiet space with low lighting when needed.
Welcome to Australia’s first sensory gym for autistic children – a place where kids like Digby are encouraged to just be themselves.
The gym comes equipped with a zip line for the little ones, plenty of play things and swing sets, all specially designed by occupational therapists.
There’s space for psychologists and speech pathologists, and a “calming room” if kids need a break.
“We wanted to create more of a family feeling, like going to a friend’s place to play.”
It’s all the work of Digby’s mum Sally Johnson.
“When my son was two or three, we were just finding it was more and more isolating not being able to take him to playgrounds because of sensory input issues and other people’s perceptions of his unusual behaviour at times,” the Thornbury mum said.
When Sally Johnson’s son Digby was diagnosed with autism and ADHD at age two, she was at a loss to find a safe and welcoming place for him to play.
She longed for an affordable, inclusive venue where he could play freely on suitable equipment, and where she could meet families facing similar challenges.
“Digby was severely delayed in many areas of development,” Ms Johnson said.
“In some ways it was a kinder entry into autism. We realised pretty quickly that he wasn’t developing typically.”
With a zip line for the kids, plenty of play things and swing sets, step inside Australia’s first sensory gym for autistic children. All of the equipment has been specially designed by occupational therapists. There’s a Calming Room and facilities for psychologists and speech pathologists. It’s the work of Sally Johnson, whose son, Digby, is autistic.
Watch the segment below!
Australia’s first children’s gym built for children with sensory disorders will open in Melbourne’s north this weekend. Get a first look inside.
It was the fifth time that Dina Kimmel was told she no longer could bring her autistic child to play at a public kids’ facility that made her realize she had had enough. Drying her tears of anger and frustration, the former Georgetown resident decided to do something about it, once and for all.
And while it wasn’t just once — with Kimmel today amazed at having 70 We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms in the franchise she began just eight years ago — it definitely is for all.
The latest opening of one of the play places where children are not turned away because of their genetically dictated behavior was Saturday, July 28, in Placerville, where a childhood friend of Kimmel’s was taking a leap of faith in opening up at 1412 Broadway.
Keri McAtee, with the support and partnership of her husband Patrick, was all smiles during Saturday’s grand opening that saw folks lined up a half hour before it opened to get inside the sunshine-lit gym that features equipment geared toward those with sensory deprivation. Those on the autism spectrum often do not sense their environment the same as others, so special gear is available to accommodate their needs and offer some fun and therapy.
We Rock The Spectrum (WRTS) kid’s gyms have been popping up all over the country recently. These gyms are designed for children on the autism spectrum, using their unique sensory and therapy equipment to help them (and all children) with neurological growth and development. Also, they’re really fun! These amazing gyms include suspended swings, crash mats and pillows, zip lines, trampolines, and play structures. They also have sensory-based and fine motor toys available, as well as an arts and crafts area.
POPSUGAR chatted with the gym’s CEO and founder, Dina Kimmel, about the importance of opening up WRTS around the country (and the world). And after you discover all the benefits and perks this wonderful kid’s gym has to offer, you’re going to want to sign your little ones up pronto. Keep reading for everything you need to know.
PLACERVILLE — A new gym in Placerville offers kids a fun place to stay clean, cool and active.
“This is a place where you don’t have to say, ‘I’m sorry,'” co-owner Patrick McAtee said.
McAtee says he is all too familiar with what it means to be an apologetic parent. He and his wife and business partner have special needs children.
“People just don’t understand. Probably the worst part of it is they look at you and say, ‘Why can’t you control your child?'” McAtee said.
That’s why they opened the latest location of the We Rock The Spectrum in Placerville.
We Rock The Spectrum caters to children with special needs. It’s a sensory-conscious fun zone open to kids of all abilities but designed specifically to be sensitive to kids with special needs in a judgment-free space.
The doors are open to a new business in Federal Way that is trying to break down the barriers that make it hard for some kids just to be kids.
The We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym allows children of all abilities to play side-by-side in a judgment-free zone.
The Federal Way franchise is being opened by Special Education teacher Colin Hirsch, who wanted to create a place for his students and their families.
The best in eat, drink, and play, voted for in the 2018 Readers’ Choice contest.
We are so excited to hear We Rock the Spectrum – Bloomington has received one of the Honorable Mentions in the Pantagraph’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards for the Best Children’s Entertainer category!! Thank you to everyone that voted for We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym!
DERBY, N.Y. (WKBW) – Parents of children on the Autism spectrum or of children with special needs know how difficult it can be to find a safe, welcoming space where kids can just be kids.
There are two spots in Western New York offering a space for kids of all abilities, one in Williamsville and the other in Derby. “We Rock The Spectrum” serves families in the northtowns and southtowns alike.
The kids gym was founded with the intention of providing a place for all kids to play together. It’s the only children’s gym that operates on an all-inclusive philosophy, allowing all kids to use sensory equipment specially designed for kids with sensory processing disorders. There are different stations at We Rock the Spectrum, from painting and dress-up, to a calming sensory room with lights and tactile textures on the walls.
Husband and wife team Jessica and Jeff Sills run both gyms, understanding the need for families to have a safe, inclusive space for their children. Jessica is a speech-language pathologist and Jeff is a physical education teacher.
Australia’s first purpose-built autism friendly play centre will soon open its doors in Preston.
A franchise of We Rock the Spectrum gyms in the US, the centre will be for children of all abilities, with equipment designed by occupational therapists to aid the sensory development of children with processing disorders.
The centre will also offer areas for health practitioners in an effort to become a “hub” for families with children with disabilities.
Thornbury mum Sally Johnson is opening the gym with brother and business partner, Marcus, and says it will be a place of inclusion.
‘We rock the spectrum’ gym for autistic kids focuses on sensory and motor skill development.
The gym will be opening in Melbourne in June. There are 60 ‘We rock the spectrum’ gyms worldwide.
Sally opened the gym when she couldn’t find a safe place for her autistic son.
ST. LOUIS – There was a big show of support for increasing autism awareness this weekend. The St. Louis chapter of Autism Speaks hosted two community events Friday and Saturday.
The organization held a fundraiser at historic Soulard restaurant Hammerstone’s on Friday. The restaurant was full of customers and people who took part in a 50/50 raffle and a raffle for Cardinals tickets in an effort to raise funds.
St. Louis musician Steve Reeb also performed during the event. He’s been involved in the St. Louis and Belleville, Illinois, music scene for years.
5 On Your Side’s Christina Coleman and her husband Eric Messersmith emceed the event. They’re son was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2-years-old.
Corey Hammerstone created a signature blue drink in honor of the event. Members of the 5 On Your Side news team also showed up to the fundraiser at Hammerstone’s.
Autism Speaks hosted a presentation for families Saturday morning at “We Rock the Spectrum” in Fenton. It has an inclusive indoor playground designed to provide all children, including children with autism, with a safe place to play.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — We Rock the Spectrum is partnering with Autism Speaks for the second year to host the walk’s kick-off event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
During the kick-off event, parents will be able to register for the walk, pick up team materials and informational packets, and get information while their children explore and play in the gym.
Staff will be on hand to help parents and caregivers.
Owner James Grosso said parents, caregivers and children are welcome to stay when they’re finished registering for the walk.
The Autism Speaks Staten Island Walk is on Sunday, Oct. 21 on the Great Lawn at the College of Staten Island.
As the parents of a young child with autism, Jeff Kachuba and Mary Topoleski thought the Southern Ocean County area lacked an exercise facility that could cater to their son and others with similar needs.
AUDUBON, N.J. – Pip Carty noticed there weren’t many places for her to take her son Julian who has a sensory disorder.
“There aren’t a lot of options and for a lot of families the only way to access equipment like this is to be going through therapy and it’s not always accessible for all families,” said Carty, owner of We Rock the Spectrum – Audubon.
So, they decided to open up a gym for such families called We Rock the Spectrum.
The idea is to create a gym for all kids, a place where no parent ever has to say: I’m sorry.
“A lot of our families that come in have a child with special needs, but they find that all of the kids in their family can play here. So, we’re really big on inclusion,” said Carty.
By: Heather McMechan Contributing Writer
July is here and you know what that means. It’s probably too hot to go outside. I’m sure you’re wondering what to do with the kids and you could use a break from heat or the afternoon rainstorm.
I have the scoop on some indoor places that will keep everyone happy this July.
We Rock The Spectrum Boca is an indoor playground that specializes in playtime for children with special needs. They have suspended equipment with swings for balance and vestibular treatment. Crash mats and crash pillows for fun, motor planning, and strength. Tunnels, zip line, and a trampoline for building leg and core strength.
We Rock The Spectrum Boca is located at 19635 State Road 7, Suite 46, in Boca Raton, Fl 33498. Call 561-218-0128 for more details.
I say it again and again. But, I shouldn’t.
I don’t know why I can’t seem to stop myself.
Why do I seem to care so much about what everyone else thinks when it comes to my son’s needs?
I won’t do it anymore. I won’t apologize for me or for my son.
The sign on the all inclusive kid’s gym, ‘We Rock the Spectrum’ says it all.
“Finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry.”
‘Tennis For Fun‘ Competes At Florida Special Olympic Summer Games www.tennisforfun.org.
Westfield Full Inclusion Back To School Bash
The Westfield Mall Full Inclusion Back to School Bash is returning for a third year, and this year it will be bigger and better than ever.
Westfield Mall, Simply Events, and We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym join together to create an event where families can support our children’s differences in a fun, and safe interactive learning environment. The Full Inclusion Back to School Bashes cater to both neurotypical and neuro-diverse children with hands on activities, family and school resources, health and wellness services, after school programs, learning centers, safety resources and more.
The event starts with 250 kids receiving scavenger hunt pages. After completing the hunt each child will receive a free, full-size backpack and school supplies. All families can enjoy local Tampa Bay mascots, princesses, super heroes, an entertainment stage, interactive workshops, MOSI, tons of free school supplies and back to school discounts at mall retailers.
This event will take place at the Westfield Brandon Mall, 459 Brandon Town Center Dr. on Saturday, July 14 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 103 degrees this weekend, breaking a 20-year record. Weather officials recommend avoiding strenuous outdoor activity during the heat wave. Here’s how to keep the kids — and your head — cool this weekend in Long Beach.
Meet Anjali Gulati—Loudoun County resident and the owner of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gyms in Sterling. This inclusive facility for children has been a labor of love for Anjali and her family. Anjali’s son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at five years old, and she soon realized the importance of having a place where not only her son, but all children could play and interact, a place where they felt comfortable and welcomed. One only has to read the testimonials to understand why her business is a godsend for so many families. The gyms not only offer open play time, but offer two other levels of services: Respite and Break Time Care, and One-to-One Attendant Care (which is designed to provide a break for families of children with special needs).
Anjali has a professional background in accounting, but always had a passion for helping people with special needs. At 43 years old she found her purpose and reached out to the owner of the franchise brand. After careful planning and a lot of hard work, We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Sterling finally opened a few months ago. I asked Anjali if she had any advice for fellow mom entrepreneurs. Her advice is to follow your passion, realize that it may take a while, don’t quit until you get there, and, most importantly, do what gives you that feeling of happiness inside.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Playtime hasn’t always been this fun for 7-year-old Julian Carty, whose sensory processing disorder often prevents him from getting off the ground.
“I really wanted to try [the zip line], but my body wouldn’t really let me do it so I tried and tried and practiced and practiced and it finally worked and I went on it and faced my fear and I got it,” he said.
These kinds of victories are part of the goal of the newly opened We Rock the Spectrum gym in Audubon, New Jersey, which aims to be a sensory-safe space, especially for children with autism and special needs.
What is it like to have a sensory processing issue?
“Your body feels wiggly, and you can’t control it,” said Julian Carty, 7.
“It’s hard to do it,” he said.
“It took me a while to figure it out.”
After lots of practice, and lots of therapy, Carty has a good enough handle on his issues to make it through the school day while keeping focus.
Afterwards, though, he often wants to come home and crash into a beanbag chair, or run around the yard of his Collingswood home with friends.
Come Saturday, however, he’ll have a different option. That’s when his mom, Pip Carty cuts the ribbon on the new Audubon location of her sensory-friendly gym, We Rock the Spectrum.
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym offers a safe and inclusive environment for children of all abilities.
The sensory gym caters towards kids on the autism spectrum but is a great place for any child to learn while exercising.
They have suspended swings, a zip line, trampoline, an indoor playground, sensory-based toys, a fine motor area, and arts and crafts.
They also offer classes to help develop kids in a safe and comfortable environment, including a hands-on art class called “Art for All.”
The art class is a great way for children of all abilities learn and express themselves in a supervised, completely harmless setting.
For more information on We Rock the Spectrum, and what they have to offer visit their website.
There’s nothing more precious than “mommy and me” time, so it’s essential to carve out time for those special moments before your child becomes a tween and reserves weekends and school breaks for friends and activities as far away from their parents as possible.
In fact, a child’s cognitive and social skills have been linked to spending more time with their mother between the ages of 3 and 7, according to study by academics from the University of Essex and University College London that was reported on theguardian.com.
Miami-based Pediatric Occupational Therapist Amy Baez, who created “Playful Jams” to encourage parent/child time, enjoys devoting her class to improving a child’s brain development while offering behavior-boosting exercises for children and their parents. “At my class, the parents do not drop the kids off and leave,” Baez said. “Parents are required to be there and participate.”
Baez’s classes are split into two age groups — 2-4 and 5-9 — so each group of children can thrive among their parents and peers. “Classes with a ‘Mommy and me’ [or parent and me] set-up strengthen trust bonds and enhance developmental and social skills,” she said.
We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym, 19635 State Road 7, Suite 45, Boca Raton, Zumbini.com
Get in shape while bonding with your little one with Zumbini classes Mondays 11:15 a.m. to noon through May 21 with instructor Andrea Hantman. Classes are also offered Tuesdays 11:15 a.m. to noon through May 22. Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages zero to four, the Zumbini allows you to sing, dance and play with your child and continue the fun with take home books, music and even a TV show to bring the experience home with you.
A gymnasium targeted toward children with autism and other special needs is proposed for a Palatine shopping center on Dundee Road.
Mary Alice and Hugh Gilgunn of Arlington Heights want to open a We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym franchise in a 3,400-square-foot vacant space at Northwest Shopping Center, on Dundee Road just east of Hicks Road. It would be the first Chicago-area location for the growing franchise based in Tarzana, California.
“We’re really excited to bring this to Palatine,” Mary Alice Gilgunn said during an advisory zoning board of appeals meeting Tuesday.
Gilgunn described We Rock the Spectrum as a sensory gym to help children in neurological growth in an atmosphere that’s safe and not overwhelming. The gymnasium is designed for children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs, but all kids can play there.
A franchise of We Rock The Spectrum gyms in the US, the centre is built for children with special needs, with specialised equipment including ziplines, swings and slides.
All equipment is designed by occupational therapists to aid the sensory development of children with processing disorders, and aids motor skill development and sensory processing.
The play centre also has areas for medical practitioners and allied health professionals to work out of, and aims to be a “hub” for families with children with disabilities.
Thornbury mum Sally Johnson will open the gym, which is now under construction, with brother and business partner Marcus, and says the gym will welcome kids of all abilities.
Saturday was a great day for spreading Autism Awareness.
It was Autism Awareness Day at Busch Stadium.
Scott Range, 24, got to throw the first pitch. He has Autism. He was also his mother’s inspiration for opening ‘We Rock the Spectrum’ in Edwardsville. Scott’s family watched him throw the first pitch on the field today.
Scott’s mother, Jennifer Range, was moved by the event.
Autism Speaks’ Kansas City-St. Louis executive director, Megan Hoffman, told 5 On Your Side that she, too, was moved by the Autism Awareness Day at Busch Stadium.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — April is Autism Awareness Month. According to the Kansas City Autism Training Center, nearly 8,000 kids in the greater Kansas City area live with autism. Autism Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate the public about what autism is, what it isn’t, and what it looks like.
Kids living with autism have meltdowns in public because they’re overstimulated. For Cassidi Jobe, whose sons Preston and Parker live with autism, this meant getting kicked out of multiple places.
Cassidi, along with her husband Phil, opened “We Rock The Spectrum” Kid’s Gym, for all kids. “It was for our family, but it was for countless other families as well.” The gym is more than just a place for all kids to play and hang out; it’s an opportunity for the Jobe family to make a difference.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Jobe, reflecting on all the places they got kicked out of. She felt cut off from the community, and not welcome. “I had a moment where I looked at my kids, and I said, this isn’t the life I want for you; you deserve to be a part of your community” said Jobe. Cassidi opened “We Rock The Spectrum” Kid’s Gym in Kansas City Missouri to have an all-inclusive place where kids are accepted, and families connect.
Imagination Day At Westfield Brandon
The 2018 Imagination Day will take place at Westfield Brandon on Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Bring the whole family out for a day packed with family-fun free activities and creativity. Imagination Day benefits We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym of Clearwater & Tampa. Entry, parking, and all activities are free and the first 100 Children will take home a Superhero Cape. There will be free activities & entertainment including multiple ‘Creation Stations’ like Dixie Bell Paint Company’s Rock Painting activity to our Official Discover Partner, MOSI’s Science Lab & a Mad Science feature. In addition, most Exhibitors will be offering a creative or educational activity at their booth.
Dance Parties will be hosted throughout the day featuring an introduction from a local dance studio, and they will be teaching a few simple dance moves.
Reston Community Center has added some new summer camps to its roster including some on filmmaking, jewelry making, engineering and environmental justice.
The camp, Documentary Filmmaking: Summer Studio for Teens, will be taught by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Rebekah Wingert-Jabi. Wingert-Jabi will teach documentary filmmaking for the four-week full-day camp, targeted for ages 13-16. The camp runs from July 9 through Aug. 3.
Another new offering is a sensory-friendly camp called “We Rock the Spectrum,” a half-day camp for ages 6-11 that encourages strength, sensory processing, movement and positive social interactions through activities that include a zip line, rock wall, trampoline and obstacle course. The camp runs from June 25-29.
The other offerings include “Trendy Jewelry Making” where campers will create up to five pieces in this weeklong session. There will be two sessions one from July 2-6 and the other from July 9-13.
Families and friends whose lives have been impacted by autism are invited to join together April 14 and participate in the annual Joining Hands for Autism Awareness Walk.
The one mile walk will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, with registration beginning at 7 a.m., at St. Louis Catholic High School located at 1620 Bank St. in Lake Charles.
This year’s event will be the third in a row for Will Malone and his mother, Kat Landry, and his first year to have his very own team participate in the walk.
“We look forward to this event every year and this year we have a lot of family and friends joining us, so it’s going to be a really fun time,” Landry stated.
Landry recalled the moment when her son received his diagnosis that placed him on the autism spectrum shortly after he was 5 years old.
“It was scary, it was a really tough time at first,” she stated. “He struggled a lot with ADHD. School was difficult and I never really felt that I got that school experience that other parents did because we never truly got a grasp of it in those early years. I felt very isolated.”
Then, Landry said she discovered the Autism Society. She said the services her son received through the organization turned their lives around.
“It took me a long time to not feel scared, but through the Autism Society we began to feel included in the community and gradually it became not so scary anymore,” she stated.
Landry said that over the years, she began to see the entire community begin to focus on inclusion. In the early years, she said even attending church services with her son could be a difficult task at times, but now she said that has been helped through her church and others offering special needs mass every few weeks.
“It’s so amazing and helpful to see so many aspects of the community embracing my son. He loves people and has never met a stranger, and it’s wonderful to see how much he enjoys putting a smile on people’s faces.”
Now at 19, Will has made a job for himself volunteering at the We Rock the Spectrum gym, and Landry said that she knows when the time is right for him that he will be able to live some sense of an independent life when he moves into the housing units offered by Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana for individuals with special needs.
Kids gymnasium We Rock The Spectrum (WRTS) announced its long-term partnership with Microsoft Malaysia to enhance the development of autistic children in the country.
This partnership will include coding experience as part of the gym’s programme.
“We are trying to empower autistic children with technology, with the hopes that they can overcome challenges they face,” Microsoft MD K Raman (picture) told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
He said the partnership to include the coding programme is in line with the company’s efforts to democratise technology and bridge the opportunity divide.
“We believe empowerment begins with inclusion and technology should be shared with everyone, especially youths, as today’s digital natives are tomorrow’s digital workforce,” he added.
Microsoft organised an “Hour of Code” in collaboration with WRTS to commemorate the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) 2018 recently.
Participants from the Imagine Cup 2018 regional finals, employees and volunteers from Microsoft, as well as youths from the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) come together to guide children on the autism spectrum on coding tutorials.
WRTS co-owner Nori Abdullah said coding is the baseline to discover new possibilities and bring out the essentials to explore children with special abilities.
“As the nation braces itself for the fourth industrial revolution, we are constantly seeking methods to educate our young ones to be ready for a digital future.
“In observance of WAAD 2018, children with different abilities learnt computational thinking through Minecraft; my son, Timor, who is on the spectrum, loves Minecraft.
“We’ve found many people on the spectrum who have the inclination and some talent when it comes to technology,” Nori said.
Meanwhile, WRTS co-owner Datin Rahmah Mahmood said Malaysia needs more spectrum facilities in the country to cater to the increase in demand for sensory activities and services.
As such, WRTS is planning to open another gym in Melawati Mall in July this year.
Rahmah told TMR that the expansion plan is to widen its geographical coverage to Ampang and Cheras from its existing outlet in Ara Damansara.
“We expect definite growth in the coming mall because we have so much support from our customer base who had requested for more strategic locations.
“We will also be introducing a sensory bus division to reach out to people who don’t have the access to any facilities, lack of awareness, or even means,” she added.
STERLING, Va. – Anjali and Manish Gulati, opened a new gym after years of searching for a place that would cater to the needs of their son who has autism.
We Rock the Spectrum, is a franchise specially designed for kids with sensory processing disorders.
The kids-only gym offers an all-inclusive philosophy with uniquely designed sensory equipment.
“I struggled to find someplace where he could just go and be active and fit in. Fast forward a few years I came across an article for we rock the spectrum,” Anjali Gulati said.
“He seeks heavy sensory input, which means one of his favorite things to do is crash into walls and jump into super high places,” said Caitlyn Boyles when talking about her 7-year old who has autism. “He can get that in the different swings they have here.”
The gym offers open play every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for children up to 13 years old for $14.
Siblings are discounted to $12. For more information about We Rock the Spectrum, click here.
Watch the Video Below!
Having a child with autism can be isolating. Their sensory processing disorder can make a trip to a noisy playground or crowded indoor gym more daunting than fun.
Anjali and Manish Gulati, a Lansdowne couple, searched the DC metro area for years for a place that would provide their son a safe space to be himself while playing on sensory-safe equipment.
“We looked and looked for a place where he could play, practice gross motor skills and find community—and we were willing to drive,” Anjali Gulati said. “We couldn’t find anything.”
A couple of years ago, she stumbled upon a website for We Rock the Spectrum, a franchise of gyms specially designed for kids with autism, special needs and neurotypical development.
“It was perfect. This has been my dream, and they offer the support I need to do it,” Gulati said.
Eli was so excited for his date with his Aunt at We Rock The Spectrum in New Orleans that he had decided he wanted to wear a bow tie that day.
“I thought he was overdressed for our date to We Rock The Spectrum this morning (peep bow tie), but since I had on a dress I figured “fair enough,” Cutno wrote in a Facebook post.
There was just one slight hiccup. When the pair arrived at the sensory-safe gym, they noticed there was already a private party going on.
Renée Cutno said she was dreading telling Eli he had to go home; he had already taken his shoes off.
PETALING JAYA: Although a little thin, Muhammad Daniel Mohd Idham looks like any other 17-year-old, but there’s something very different about him – he has never eaten solid food in his life.
Daniel suffers from an eating disorder brought about by his autism, which was diagnosed when he was seven years old.
His mother, Shuhaila Saidon, said her son refused to eat solid food and would only consume liquids such as milk or juices and food that has been blended in liquid form.
FMT met Daniel and Shuhaila at the Autism Youth Bazaar, an initiative by Autism Cafe Project (ACP) founder Mohd Adli Yahya and the daughter of former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Nori Abdullah, who is behind We Rock The Spectrum (WRTS).
Speaking to FMT, Shuhaila said when Daniel was three years old, her friends had noticed there was something different about him.
However, at that time, she did not know what to do about it.
PETALING JAYA: Activists working to help autistic children today launched a bazaar featuring only products made by autistic youth, in a bid to help the community to be independent.
The Autism Youth Bazaar at the Evolve Concept Mall in Ara Damansara features more than 10 different booths selling items made by the autistic youth and their families. The items include cookies, cakes, handicrafts, paintings, jewellery and clothing items.
It was an initiative by the daughter of former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Nori Abdullah, who is behind We Rock The Spectrum (WRTS), and Autism Cafe Project (ACP) founder Mohd Adli Yahya.
Also present today was United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative in Malaysia, Marianne Clark-Hattingh.
Nori, who is the wife of Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, hopes those interested to provide opportunities for autistic youth will come forward to work with her organisation.
A We Rock the Spectrum location will open its doors in St. Ann at 10513 St. Charles Rock Rd. on Saturday, March 24 to provide sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development. Each gym features 10 pieces of therapeutic equipment. This equipment is designed specifically to work with many of the sensory processing issues that children on the spectrum face, while providing all children with the sensory-diet necessary for improved learning and neurological development.
Celeste Brown is the new owner of We Rock the Spectrum – North County STL. Her life changed forever three years ago when she met an amazing little boy named Chance. After fostering for two years, she adopted him, and in April 2016 he was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In a search for different types of social and play outlets, they visited We Rock the Spectrum – Fenton, became a regular, and decided to share this gym with her community.
“My goal is to provide a much-needed resource for children and their families; a place where children with disabilities and neurotypical children can play and learn together in a truly integrated environment,” Brown said.
First of all (stands up tall on kitchen chair), EVERY PLACE in San Antonio should be inclusive for families and children with special needs. In my experience, I have found that our city is an inclusive mecca: less stares, more holding the door open, and just an overall willingness to be accepting. We are the proud citizens of the first all-accessible theme park, a place people all over the world come to check out. As a parent of a child with a disability, safety concerns and accessibility are a priority when we explore our city.
Here is a list of seven San Antonio gems for families that have some extra worries, such as children with sensory needs, those who like to stim loudly/have self-injurious behaviors/run away, and those who may need extra space to accommodate wheelchairs, because ALL children deserve to have a blast in this wonderful city of ours!
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. As the only kid’s gym that offers an inclusive philosophy, children benefit from their uniquely designed sensory equipment that is specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. However, all children are able to benefit greatly from this equipment, and by allowing children of all ability levels to play together they are able to learn a great deal from each other and become the best motivation for success on every level.
Margaret Lee, who has an 8-year-old autistic daughter, was inspired to start a new business venture and open We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym in Sugar Land.
“Some challenges when taking autistic children to other gyms is sensory overload,” said Lee. “Other kids may not understand, or they see the behavior as quirky or different.”
The uniquely designed sensory equipment found at We Rock The Spectrum, includes a zip line, crash pit, trampoline, hammock swing, wall climbing and more.
“It’s really been a blessing for these families that we’ve been able to help out and provide a safe space for their children to come out in play in our community,” Lee said. “It’s a place where you never have to say I’m sorry.”
Cover to Cover has started a new chapter in Upper Arlington. Original owners Sally Oddi and Carl King retired in June 2017 and sold the children’s bookstore—a longtime Clintonville fixture—to Melia Wolf, who opened the new location in January. The shop, 2116 Arlington Ave., features regular storytimes and was scheduled to host a Jan. 21 visit with New York Times bestselling author Jon Scieszka, whose books include “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” and the Frank Einstein series. Learn more at covertocoverchildrensbooks.com.
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Central Ohio children can now recreate part of the journey taken by Dorothy Gale and her friends, without even leaving their home state. The Wizard of Oz Educational Exhibit made its Ohio debut Jan. 12 at Easton. Visitors can see the traveling museum show—the first licensed exhibit of its kind—on the second level of the Easton Station Building through March 25. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. Find out more at eastontowncenter.com/events.
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Special-needs students have a new facility designed just for them. Lyndsey and Kirk Vidra opened the state’s first We Rock the Spectrum gym in Lewis Center in December. The California-based company has nearly 50 franchises that provide sensory-safe open play and classes for children with autism and special needs as well as typically developing peers. Find the gym at 1250 E. Powell Road and at werockthespectrumcolumbus.com.
There are certain questions that strike fear in the hearts of parents and grandparents: “Can I get a toy?” “Can we listen to KidzBop?” “What else is for dinner?” And, of course, there’s this pearl: “What are we doing over mid-winter break?”
Mid-winter break is a far trickier proposition than spring break, which for most schools will run from the end of March into early April. A February recess means questionable weather and bitter cold. It also comes in the wake of the expensive and exhausting December and January holiday break.
However, there are options — plentiful options, in fact. It might be too late to book spots in most camps, and space is limited for anything requiring pre-registration. Here are some ideas to get you started, many of them focusing on the week most school districts are off this month: Feb. 19-23. Remember to check your town or city’s recreation department website, and perhaps even your school district’s calendar of events. Your kids will thank you, and perhaps avoid driving you batty for an hour or two.
Bounce Magic has inflatable fun at two locations (4090 Maple Road, Amherst and 4255 McKinley Pkwy., Hamburg; bouncemagic.com). Sensational Fun (2881 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park; sensationalfun.org) and We Rock the Spectrum (5427 Transit Road, Williamsville; werockthespectrumbuffalonorthtowns.com) are activity centers that are ideal for kids with special needs.
HOUSTON – Houston Life host Courtney Zavala‘s shares one family’s journey with autism and how it lead them to open a place where all kids, no matter what they abilities are, can play together and be themselves.
We Rock the Spectrum opened in September. It is quickly becoming a favorite place to play for children on the autism spectrum and kids who aren’t. Franchise owner Eva Millard is a former school occupational therapist.
“I am not a business person by any means. I am an occupational therapist that loves working with children and wants to improve their daily life and for them to have fun,” said Millard.
There are 10 pieces of equipment, all designed to help with strength, movement and sensory processing.
“The equipment is also perfect for children of all abilities, children of all ages,” said Millard.
A former special education teacher has brought what is believed to be the first open-play concept gym in Ohio for those on the autism spectrum to the Columbus area.
We Rock The Spectrum, 1250 E. Powell Road, Lewis Center, opened several weeks ago, according to co-owner Lyndsey Vidra.
“It has gone really well,” Vidra said. “A lot of families have visited. It gives families a chance to play together and kids (on the spectrum) to be social with others.”
According to the center’s website, the following features are offered:
• Suspended equipment with swings – for balance and vestibular treatment
• Crash mats and crash pillows – for fun, motor planning, and strength
• Zipline – for stress release and joint and body relaxation
• Trampoline – for building leg and core strength
• Indoor play structure – for climbing and increasing playground skills
• Sensory-based toys – for improved auditory processing and fine motor skills
• Fine Motor and Arts and Crafts Area – for improved hand-eye coordination
Parents of children with autism and other special needs can often find themselves challenged to find things to do with their children, especially this time of year. But there’s a new gym open that can provide some relief for both kids and parents.
Maria Levengood has five children and grandkids, some with special needs. She drove from Farmers City to check out the new We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym in Normal. It helps them be able to relax. When they get overly frustrated or overly stimulated in certain situations you have to redirect them, put them in a more calming situation and this gets all that out, she said.
The new gym has equipment designed for children with autism and special needs. Owners Tricia and Eric Lambert have a son with autism. Tricia says they decided to open the spectrum kids gym after visiting a similar one in St. Louis
NORMAL – A new gym in the Twin Cities gives all kids more opportunities to have fun.
For a parent, finding a safe space for a child on the autism spectrum to play, can be difficult. But Kris Baran found that in Normal, as a new gym specializing in just that, opened on Saturday.
“We’ve participated in other gyms before, and sometimes we’ve had to leave because the equipment or the time and the space just wasn’t made for them,” said Kris Baran, who has a child on the spectrum. “But here, they have everything they could ever want. Especially my son who is on the spectrum.”
“We Rock the Spectrum” is a gym for all children, but is geared toward children with disabilities. It’s the first gym of its kind in Central Illinois.
“Everything in our gym is sensory based,” said Tricia Lambert, Co-Owner of “We Rock the Spectrum.” “We have a zipline, a trampoline. We have all of our swings that some of them swing, some of them they can get wrapped up completely in. We’ve got swings for little ones, we’ve got swings for middle aged kids, and older kids.”
Along with the wide variety of sensory equipment, the gym also has an art center and calming room for the children to use if they need a break from the hustle and bustle of kids running around.
“The calming room here really helps because sometimes my son just has a lot of anxiety, he gets very nervous, it’ll get too loud, and he just needs a break from his own emotions,” said Baran. “And so the calming room gives him a place to do that safely.”
LEWIS CENTER, OH (WCMH) — Most of us may not give a second thought to exercising or enjoying the benefits of a gym, but that’s not always the case for some people with autism or special needs. A gym called We Rock the Spectrum changes that.
The new facility in Lewis Center is the first Ohio location of We Rock the Spectrum. The gym provides sensory safe play for kids that include gym pieces of theraputic equipment designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues that children on the spectrum face. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Shonda Williams. Her son has autism, and she says they’ve never found a facility like this.
“They absolutely just cater to everyone children on the spectrum, children that are not on the spectrum, they make you feel welcome,” she said.
A sensory gym is benefiting the development of children with special needs.
“We Rock the Spectrum” started as sensory gym for children with autism. Now, it has expanded to all kids and all abilities.
The location in Cypress, Texas finds its “story time yoga” class is especially beneficial to kids.
“It’s not really yoga that most of adults have seen before, it’s kid yoga!” said instructor Leslie Bates. “We move around the room like animals, or like cars, or whatever our book is about.”
They build focus, muscle memory and motor skills by imitating movements of animals or vehicles in their story book.
These kinds of exercise are critical to kids with physical disabilities, just like the socializing and movement is beneficial for kids with behavioral needs.
“A lot of it is social development. So we’re talking about our bodies and stretching our bodies,” said Bates. “Your muscle movements and your memory in your muscles is really important at this age. So a lot of times we’re just asking the parents to work on exercises too and just play with it. Making it fun but playing something with exercises to make their muscle movement different so their muscle movement can be ready for that.”
We Rock the Spectrum has more than 60 locations across the United States with more to come. The company website says a location is coming soon to Frisco but the company could not confirm the opening date for the location near the Frisco Square.
CYPRESS, TX – A sensory gym is benefiting the development of children with special needs.
“We Rock the Spectrum” started as sensory gym for children with autism. Now, it has expanded to all kids and all abilities.
The location in Cypress, Texas finds its “story time yoga” class is especially beneficial to kids.
“It’s not really yoga that most of adults have seen before, it’s kid yoga!” said instructor Leslie Bates. “We move around the room like animals, or like cars, or whatever our book is about.”
They build focus, muscle memory and motor skills by imitating movements of animals or vehicles in their story book.
These kinds of exercise are critical to kids with physical disabilities, just like the socializing and movement is beneficial for kids with behavioral needs.
We Rock the Spectrum has over 60 locations across the United States, including here in Scottsdale.
We Rock The Spectrum address:
4848 E Cactus Rd #820, Scottsdale, AZ 85254, USA
It was something Katy Miller saw in Texas and knew Lake Charles needed—a sensory gym.
The former special needs teacher recently opened the city’s first sensory gym.
It’s a place for all children to go, have fun and not feel judged.
Karson Dietz parents describe him as a people person who loves joking around and being silly.
But Karson also has autism.
“He enjoys coming here and it helps out tremendously with his therapy,” said Karson’s father, Tony Dietz.
The place where Karson is having so much fun is a new gym called We Rock the Spectrum.
“A friend of mine in Houston had another friend who opened one of these gyms,” said the owner, Katy Miller. “I’d never heard of it so I looked into it actually this past June.”
Miller’s curiosity led her to open the first sensory gym in Lake Charles. This gym provides resources and activities in an environment that benefits Karson and other children who have autism.
And though the gym’s only been open for a few days, Karson’s parents can see the impact it’s having on him.
“Since he’s come to the gym, he has talked about the gym,” said Karson’s stepmother, Amy Dietz. “It’s been appropriate talk. On the way here he was very excited and he was speaking in complete sentences and initiating conversation, whereas we’re not having to ask him questions, he was doing it on his own.”
Autism Live and We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym have partnered again this holiday season to host a special event for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children who attend the Autism Live Sensitive Santaevent will meet Santa, have their photos taken, and receive a wrapped toy, while also getting the opportunity to explore a uniquely ASD-friendly gym equipment. Autism Live’s Sensitive Santa will be held Saturday, December 2 from 9am-3:30pm at We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, located at 5520 Crebs Ave., Tarzana, CA 91356. The event is free with registration at https://autismsensitivesanta2017.eventbrite.com.
Spending time with Santa can be difficult for children with ASD and their families, and this event seeks to give families an opportunity to have fun in an environment specifically designed to meet the needs of their children.
“The holidays are often especially challenging for children affected by autism and their families, and we wanted to create an event that makes the visit with Santa and his helpers a fun-filled, stress-free occasion,” said Shannon Penrod, host of Autism Live, one of the event sponsors.At Autism Live’s Sensitive Santa event, Santa and his helpers have experience interacting with children with ASD and know behavioral techniques to help children enjoy their visit. Instead of waiting in line, the children play in the sensory gym, which facilitates a successful Santa visit for the whole family.
“This is one of our favorite days of the year,” says We Rock the Spectrum Founder and CEO Dina Kimmel. “The kids light up the second they see Santa. The parents feel comfort knowing their children are in a safe and accepting environment. We are so proud to host something so magical with our friends at Autism Live.”
The high-quality toys each attendee will receive arefeatured inAutism Live’s Top Toy & Gift Guide 2017. The award-winning toys featured in the guide were chosen because they are fun and help build important skills. Toys featured in the guide and at Autism Live’s Sensitive Santa event come from toymakers such as Think Fun, Endless Games, Imperial Toys, Fisher-Price, Lux Blox, Yoee Baby, Play Visions, Infantino, Smart Felt Toys, Zuru, Uncle Milton, and Fat Brain Toys.
“The reality is that many children on the autism spectrum don’t know how to play, so they don’t enjoy playing,” said Penrod. “A great toy and the right level of guidance can help a child grow and have fun!”
Autism Care and Treatment Today! and My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation were involved in creating the event, along with support from the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) and Skills® for Autism.
Eva Millard, owner of We Rock the Spectrum, has also been impressed by the turnout since she opened the doors in September at 1490 Saratoga Road (Route 50) in Ballston Spa.
Millard, 36, is an occupational therapist who has worked with children who have developmental disabilities.
“Parents kept saying they needed a place to bring their kids outside of school where they could feel welcome and be kids and have a place to learn and grow,” Millard said.
Parents pay $12 per child and $10 for siblings for up to two hours, with discounts for additional children. Parents can also drop off children for up to three hours for $12 per hour.
She declined to say how much it cost to open the 2,500-square-foot franchise, but said the investment was backed by Adirondack Trust Co.
“It’s been an amazing experience meeting the families and playing with the children,” Millard said.
Sheri Townsend opened Spotted Zebra Learning Center in 2005 to serve pre-school children with special needs, and has expanded since then into a 14,000-square-foot facility at 26 Computer Drive East.
Three years ago she opened a 3,000-square-foot indoor sensory playground in the building called Bizzy Beez Activity Center that hosts birthday parties and sensory-friendly theater groups.
CYPRESS, Texas – We Rock the Spectrum has five locations in our area. It’s a sensory gym that first started for children with autism. Now, it’s expanded to all kids and all abilities.
We Rock the Spectrum in Cypress finds its “story time yoga” class is benefiting kids’ development.
“It’s not really yoga that most of adults have seen before – it’s kid yoga!” said instructor Leslie Bates. “We move around the room like animals, or like cars, or whatever our book is about.”
They build focus, muscle memory and motor skills by imitating movements of animals or vehicles in their story book.
“The little guy that has braces on his feet wasn’t ready to stand on them and hold this whole body weight on it, but if [mom] is helping him and holding his trunk up and helping him move his, he was ready to move his feet,” Bates said. “So, he was ready to move a little bit but he wasn’t holding his whole body weight yet.”
AUSTIN – The first ‘We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym’ in Austin opened its doors. It’s a place for children of all backgrounds, including those who live with autism, special needs, or are differently-abled.
The gym provides social skills groups and special gym equipment, such as a zipline and trampoline specifically designed to help a child grow physical strength, as well as offer joint and body relaxation.
“We Rock the Spectrum” offers:
“Suspended equipment with swings for balance and vestibular treatment”
“Crash mats and crash pillows for motor planning and strength”
“Indoor play structure for climbing and increasing playground skills”
“Sensory-based toys for improved auditory processing and fine motor skills”
“Fine Motor and Arts and Crafts Area for improved hand-eye coordination”
The gym also provides a special sensory room for children who become over-stimulated. The galaxy-themed area has white noise sound radios, adjustable mood-lighting settings and bean bags. Staff said they want it to be a place where parents don’t have to say, “I’m sorry.”
Owner and Manager Milan Helm said it’s something she also says often when taking care of her godson who is autistic.
“A lot of these kids on the spectrum are always told, ‘No, don’t do that,’ or ‘Oh, be careful!’ so when are they ever just allowed to play and be themselves? One of the dads came in and said, ‘This place understands me. This is so exciting that this place understands me and my children.”