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Ages & Stages: Finding sensory fun and playtime therapy

As any parent with a child that has sensory issues can tell you, children often spend so much time working to be “good” at school and overcome their sensitivities in a public space that sometimes they need a location where they can relax and have fun – one that caters to their needs, no matter where they fall on the spectrum. As my son has grown up, we have explored many fun gym spaces in the Upstate and they all have something fantastic to offer young children and parents. 

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate offers a monthly sensory-friendly morning for children with processing differences and special needs. And some of the local Upstate trampoline gyms are relatively uncrowded (and have turned down the music for me) early in the morning, which means a child with sensory issues can explore and play until their heart’s content.

A new gym the Upstate is offering an interesting approach for children with sensory issues. It is unique in that it offers a space for physical and occupational therapists to assist the children they serve. Equipment is specifically designed to cater to children’s growth and development. We Rock the Spectrum Greenville (WRTS) believes that while not all kids are alike, they need a place where all kids can have fun.

Co-owner Kimberly Tolbert spent 20 years working with children in the field of special education and felt that there needed to be a place where children with sensory issues and physical motor needs could go for fun as well as therapy. The solution for her and her husband was to open We Rock the Spectrum.

“We have 10 standard pieces of sensory equipment which are designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues that children on the spectrum may face, while providing all children with the sensory diet necessary for development,” Tolbert said.

Upstate parent Eva Mady found out about the gym and immediately saw the potential for students within the community.

“It is perfect for kids with special needs – and their siblings can play, too,” Mady said. 

In fact, Mady was so impressed that she organized a spirit night for her daughter’s elementary school at WRTS. She wanted all of the students to feel included, especially since they have a calm down room for children who need a spot where they can decompress from the noise. Once they are ready, they can rejoin the other children in the larger gym area.

“It was a big hit for all of our families since parents did not even know it was there,” Mady said. 

WRTS is not just for children who experience sensory difficulties, it is for