Kirkland parents Shirley and Martin Sarmiento-Blaha were looking for a gymnasium for their six-year-old twin boys.
Their sons are on the autism spectrum. The gyms they found were too overwhelming for the boys.
“It might be too noisy or there might be too many children. And they might be fine for a few minutes and then all of a sudden they’re just overwhelmed and have a lot of meltdowns.
"Dealing with the meltdowns in public is a little challenging, too. You know everybody’s looking at you, and they’re screaming and hitting everything and throwing stuff.
"So we were thinking, is there a place where we could take them where maybe it wouldn’t be so challenging and the environment may be easier for them?” Martin Sarmiento-Blaha said.
Shirley Sarmiento-Blaha did some research and found a gym in California specifically designed for children with special needs called We Rock the Spectrum.
The Sarmiento-Blahas decided to open their own.
It's the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and offers activities not typically found at kids gyms.
“Probably the first thing you notice is there’s a lot of variety of swings, things that you would typically see at an occupational therapy office. They give kids all kind of inputs of movement and texture.
"We do have the quiet room where kids can go if it’s a little too much,” Martin Sarmiento-Blaha said.
Shirley Sarmiento-Blaha said although the gym is designed for kids on the spectrum, it welcomes all children to come play.
“Both kids with special needs and neuro-typical kids can just come and play together and be themselves and learn from each other," she said. "It’s not just for special needs children. It’s for everyone of all abilities."
We Rock the Spectrum Eastside-Seattle gym opened in June in Bellevue.