A brand new gym was opened recently in the city of Arvada, Colorado. The gym is specifically designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and is part of the California-based We Rock the Spectrum franchise.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that causes social, communication and behavioural changes. It is known as a spectrum disorder because it affects people differently, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. About 1.4% of US citizens suffer from the disorder and in the UK this figure is 1.1%.
We Rock the Spectrum gyms provide a safe environment for children with autism and special needs to develop their skills. The gym features 10 different kinds of therapeutic equipment, each designed to deal with the sensory processing issues facing children with the disorder – providing children with the “sensory diet” needed to improve learning and neurological development.
An example of how this works can be seen in the use of a zip line that aids children by providing vestibular sensation, whilst also developing upper arm and core strength.
Owners of the new gym, Amy and Abe Woszczynski discovered the franchise when their five year old son was diagnosed with the disorder. Less than a year later they opened the first gym of its kind in Colorado and a second one is to follow soon.
The proud new owners of the gym feel that it is particularly beneficial because children with the disorder can play alongside children who don’t. This aids their social development and serves to remove the stigma associated with autism.
Facilities such as this one demonstrate the extent to which children are able to learn and develop through play. It is well known that play equipment can also aid development in children who don’t suffer from any form of disability. However for children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities, specialised playground equipment does much to help minimise the effects of their disability.
Affording autistic children opportunities such as this not only gives them a chance to enjoy fun activity, but also allows them to interact with other children. Through this interaction they’ll feel less excluded from society develop their self-confidence and general social skills.
With the correct guidance and therapy, children with autism are able to play a meaningful role in society. Facilities that provide fun and stimulating environments development create a wonderful opportunity for children and their parents too.
We are delighted that it’s becoming more common to find playgrounds that cater to children with all types of disabilities. These facilities encourage children with disabilities and those without, to interact in a regular environment. Through doing this, we are developing a generation that is free from the prejudice and ignorance that leads to the marginalisation of people with disabilities.
People have become aware of the important role playgrounds have in many aspects of any child’s physical, social and mental development. The idea of learning through play affects virtually every aspect of their development. For children facing additional challenges brought about by disabilities, the importance of playground learning is so much more significant.