'We Rock the Spectrum' provides space for children with autism to play

BRADENTON, Fla. - When kids walk through the doors of "We Rock the Spectrum Bradenton," they run to kick their shoes off.

"They’re excited. Their eyes just light up when they see all of the different things that they can get on, and they can play," said Wanda Pluitt.

Pluitt helps families check in, and no one is turned away.

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The indoor playground is open to all and focuses on giving children with autism a purpose to play.

"A safe haven that they know they are safe, they’re not being judged, and it gives the parents a feel of security for them and their children," said Pluitt.

There’s a calming room for children to have space when needed. Each piece of play equipment, from a zipline to multiple types of swings, helps strengthen children.

"All the equipment in the gym is geared and focused toward sensory integration, sensory processing, eye hand coordination," said Alishia Ellis-Heason, who opened the Bradenton franchise with her sister, Shayla Ellis.

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Ellis-Heaston is an occupational therapist and her sister works as a board-certified behavioral analyst.

"It’s a facility, a space for all kids, it’s a place where no one has to say they’re sorry, because we welcome all kids and all abilities," said Ellis-Heason.

It's a place where kids can just be kids.

"No one is perfect and no one should look down on anybody, especially a child," said Pluitt. "When you see a child’s eyes light up just by a toy or something, an apparatus that they can play or swing on it’s a blessing."

We Rock the Spectrum Bradenton is located in Pinebrook Commons at 4744 Cortez Road West in Bradenton. They are open seven days a week from 9 a.m to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit werockthespectrumbradenton.com.