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."
Leslie Sheiner said she and her son spent a handful of hours at the indoor-gym. She said it was something the Austin community needed.
"I think we want our children to be somewhat 'normal' and when your child is a little different—it’s hard. You all want to fit in. You want them to fit into a society, so you never want to make them feel like they are being judged. So, here we are all kind of in the same boat” Sheiner said.
All families are welcome, including those without special needs.
The indoor play gym is located in South Austin off East Highway 290 and Highway 71, near H-E-B.