Kavita Jain wanted a place where both of her sons could play comfortably. She found a shared ethos with We Rock the Spectrum, a gym meant to be inclusive for all children, including those on the autism spectrum and who have disabilities.
“As a family, it’s always been hard for us to go into any kind of play space for him, just because it’s too overwhelming for him — it doesn’t meet his needs,” says Jain, whose 11-year-old son has autism and behavioral needs.
As a parent of a child with special needs, Jain says she finds herself constantly saying “I’m sorry” if her child is having a meltdown. The gym’s motto is “A place where you never have to say ‘I’m sorry.’”
We Rock the Spectrum
2054 Gallatin Pike N.
Opening celebration 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
“If you’re around a child that is behaving differently from your own child, you don’t know what to do,” she says. “It’s not because you want to be exclusive. It’s just that you’ve never had that opportunity. We want to be able to be a place where families come together — neurotypical kids, neurodiverse kids — and learn from one another.”
Jain and her family are the newest franchisees for We Rock the Spectrum, and are set to celebrate the grand opening of the gym. That will take place Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2054 Gallatin Pike N. in Madison. A Franklin location with a different owner also opened earlier this year. The series of play gyms is a project of My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation, a national nonprofit with the goal of providing inclusive classes and social skills programming for children.
Each We Rock the Spectrum space has a mix of 12 different items, all designed by an occupational therapist. Jain says a favorite is a zipline and crash pad, plus a trampoline, various swings, a toddler area with pretend play, a sensory table, tunnels and a rock-climbing wall. These are of course meant to be fun, but also to help kids work on fine and gross motor skills, their vestibular systems, social-emotional learning, upper body strength, and developing their senses, Jain explains. In addition, there’s a calming room when kids need a break from the space.
Jain says that compared to Chuck E. Cheese a few doors down — which has too many lights, sounds and activities for her older son — We Rock the Spectrum is a more welcoming space.
“It is a space where my 11-year-old who has special needs, and my 5-year-old who does not have any special needs and is neurotypical, it’s a space where both of them can go play and feel equally welcome and have things to do that both of them enjoy,” Jain says.
In the coming months, We Rock the Spectrum will host a number of partners, including inclusive gymnastics classes, therapeutic music classes, bilingual classes, occupational therapy and classes to help prepare for preschool. Jain hopes to also offer respite care for parents and camps in the future, and just be a space where families can connect to resources for their children.
“Whether you’re looking for a therapist, or you’re just looking for a space for your child to get some of their vestibular input … or just a space where you can drop off your child for a few hours,” she says. “There are so many resources that I didn’t know of till I started on this journey.”
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