Palatine approves gym geared for children with autism, other special needs

 
 
Updated 5/10/2018 4:53 PM
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  • We Rock the Spectrum, a gymnasium targeted to the needs of autistic children but where all can play, will open in this space at Northwest Shopping Center on Dundee Road in Palatine.

    We Rock the Spectrum, a gymnasium targeted to the needs of autistic children but where all can play, will open in this space at Northwest Shopping Center on Dundee Road in Palatine. Courtesy of Kathleen Brady

  • Mary Alice Gilgunn of Arlington Heights spoke to the Palatine village council this week before members granted her and her husband, Hugh, permission to open We Rock the Spectrum, a gymnasium targeted toward children with autism and other special needs.

      Mary Alice Gilgunn of Arlington Heights spoke to the Palatine village council this week before members granted her and her husband, Hugh, permission to open We Rock the Spectrum, a gymnasium targeted toward children with autism and other special needs. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

An Arlington Heights couple have received final approval to open a gymnasium in Palatine designed for children with autism and other special needs.

Palatine village council members this week granted a special-use permit for We Rock the Spectrum Kid's Gym in the Northwest Shopping Center space on Dundee Road, just east of Hicks Road.

A councilman who represents the area is among the village officials already receiving positive feedback on the gym.

"As the councilman in District 3, I got several notices from people that were very much looking forward to this," Councilman Doug Myslinski said.

Mary Alice and Hugh Gilgunn hope to debut We Rock the Spectrum in August in a 3,400-square-foot space. It'll be the first Chicago-area location for the growing franchise based in Tarzana, California.

We Rock the Spectrum is a sensory gym to help children in an atmosphere that's safe and not overwhelming. The gymnasium is designed for children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs, but all kids can play there.

"Everyone is so psyched for this to come to Palatine," Mary Alice Gilgunn said.

We Rock the Spectrum's offerings will include sensory-based swings and toys, a special climbing structure to promote full-body awareness, motor-play toys, an arts-and-crafts area, physical fitness programs and birthday party accommodations. Founded in Tarzana in 2010, the chain boasts at least 47 domestic and international locations.

"There is such a need," Mary Alice Gilgunn said. "A couple of people actually called me to see if I wanted to open in downtown (Chicago), but I kind of just want to make this one awesome."

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says a study of 8-year-old children in 2014 showed 1 in 59 had autism, up from 1 in 150 in 2000.

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