Long Island gym for children with special needs

- A new gym on Long Island offers a safe and supportive place for children with autism. The gym is a labor of love for two Long Island parents.

Alison Arduini is always looking for a place to play with her son Anthony, who has autism.

"He likes to be home but at the same time wants to be busy," Alison said. "I don't want him sitting on the iPad all day." 

Rachel and Brett Roslow get it. Their 6-year-old son Ethan is also on the spectrum. They opened Sensory Beans in Wantagh in April so they would have a fun place where he could safely be himself. The gym is designed for children with special needs but anyone is welcome.

"It's a really sensory-rich environment, it's really something where the kids can explore safely in a way that they want to," Rachel said. "They can touch, they can feel. They can crash into something. They can just fall on a pillow."

Open play costs $15. No one gets paid. All of the money is reinvested into the nonprofit gym for rent and upkeep. Some students are using it as an opportunity to volunteer.

"Kids being happy is the best thing ever," volunteer Shannon Gleason said. "It's the sweetest thing to see someone happy. I love it."

"Our foam pit --amazing -- kids love to jump in, they knock blocks down. We have the slides they absolutely love. They're able to play with one another. They can engage one another. They can race," Rachel said. "They can do different types of things with that. We also have all of our swings, adaptive swings that a lot of kids love. And then we have our cocoon swing, which a lot of kids have a really good time in that; it's very relaxing and it gives them that closed feeling that they want."

She said the tire jumper and rock-climbing wall are also very popular.

It is one of the few places kids can do what they want without being told they can't.

Sensory Beans

Autism Resources

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