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Family owned and operated 1 Gym 4 All,  in Waldwick, New Jersey, has its grand re-opening recently. Run by Kim Casey and her husband Arno, the gym is known for extending the premises and facilities towards children within the autism spectrum.

Image ©

Image © 1 Gym 4 All

With rising number of children diagnosed with autism and other disorders within the spectrum, it is time to create a society that includes people with special needs.

Kim has had 20 years of experience as a Special Needs Teacher, and is currently associated with Ridgewood Public Schools. She understands that all children, irrespective of their abilities need social interactions. She therefore, intends to create an opportunity where such social interactions are possible.

autism friendly gym

Image © 1 Gym 4 All

Suzanne Buchanan – Executive director, Autism New Jersey says, that with rising number of children diagnosed with Autism, places like 1 Gym 4 All are becoming a necessity.

“The refrain we are hearing over and over is parents appreciate a place where they don’t have to apologize for their children’s behavior. Where they are accepted and welcomed,” Buchanan said.

5 year old Ethan’s mother had a harrowing time trying to find a  gym, which could cater the needs of her autistic son. She experimented with as many as 7 gyms before shortlisting 1 Gym 4 All.

Dana Berkowitz – Ethan’s mother recalls out of 7 gyms she visited, one was willing to make arrangements, however they had a condition that the child could only practice up to a certain age.

Having a child with special needs meant constant apologising for Dana, when Ethan’s symptoms showed.

Nevertheless, Berkowitz says she was able to locate 1 Gym 4 All , which is an all-inclusive sensory gym, perfect for little Ethan.

A Gym With A Difference

The gym practices a parent-led process, which needs an adult (18 years and older) to be with a child at all times. Their equipment are different from what one can expect in a regular gymnasium or playground. They have been designed to enhance a child’s sense of confidence and self-esteem, which results in a increased sense of independence.

The equipments have been specially designed keeping in mind the sensory needs of autistic children, however, every child will benefit from them. They aim at increasing social and communication skills along with physical skills like balance and flexibility.

As  Jamie England, another mum of two points out, that the all-inclusive nature of the gym means she can bring both her sons, one of whom is autistic, to the same play area to play in.

Casey points out that equipments like swings can make children with autism feel more relaxed and in control of their situation.

It is now well known that children with autism have issues with sensory system, given their altered genetics, resulting in starkly noticeable behavioural patterns.

Linda Messbauer – an occupational therapist who is credited for designing and opening the first sensory gym in 1992, praised the intentions behind 1 Gym 4 All and said it is,

well-intended venues for recreational and socialization purposes

Added to this, she said a rise in facilities is always beneficial. However, she also expressed concerns as few may overstimulate some children at times. She appreciates a place like 1 Gym 4 All that uses diffused lighting, pillows and beanbags, as well as a quiet room to allow a child with special needs to take a break and relax.

exercises for kids with autism

Image © 1 Gym 4 All

The gym has added facilities like ‘Sharing the Arts’ a performing arts programs for children with Asperger’s and other developmental delays; a music therapy aimed towards areas of speech, socialisation and expression tailor made for children and adults with autism.

Added to this, the gym also has a support group open to families and children dealing with autism, so that they can interact with other differently abled children, increase their social interaction and aiding them to become more comfortable with the society as they grow up.

A gym like like this is just the place a family with autistic children needs, where the children can be themselves and feel accepted while parents feel that child is safe, secure and happy.

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