As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, Dina Kimmel struggled with finding a safe place to take her son to work out his wiggles while also fulfilling the sensory needs he craved and allowing him to play alongside his sister.
In order to fill this void, Kimmel opened We Rock the Spectrum in Tarzana, California with the motto: “Finally a place where you never have to say ‘I’m sorry!’” This refers to the perceptions of those who might not understand the behaviors of children with special needs.
In recent years, Kimmel has franchised her business to cater to more families affected by autism or other special needs. Franchises have popped up in Florida, Texas, Missouri, New York, and Colorado with plans to open the first Washington-based We Rock the Spectrum in Bellevue.
Much like Kimmel, Shirley and Martin Sarmiento of Bellevue know what it’s like to struggle with finding a safe, worry-free place for their twin boys on the spectrum.
“Many of the existing play areas in our region are structured in ways that don’t work well for our boys, as our boys don’t understand and can’t follow all the rules like a typical child would,” Shirley said in a statement. “For these reasons and more, we are so excited to bring We Rock the Spectrum to our area.”
The gym features an array of therapeutic equipment like swings, trampolines, and zip lines specifically designed to help children with sensory processing disorder — most individuals with autism have some form of SPD, they may have difficulty in loud environments or shy away from bright lights for example — with the sensory diet they need for improved learning and development.
The Bellevue gym located at 1910 132nd Avenue Northeast is slated to open June 10 to children of all abilities. An opening celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 per child with 20 percent of revenue benefiting the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation. For more information, visit We Rock the Spectrum online.