Spectra Gymnastics: Social & Sensory Friendly

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Step, climb, jump and roll! Spectra Gymnastics is the place to be for families affected by Autism and related disorders. We checked out this fabulous program and had to keep from hopping on the trampoline ourselves. Read on for a great resource for sensory and social play.

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photo: Spectra Gymnastics

The Scoop

Opened in July 2014 with just 20 students, Spectra was a dream-turned-reality for owner and instructor Karissa Johnson. Her passion for teaching gymnastics to children of all abilities and learning styles is manifested in this impressive facility that now reaches nearly 100 students with the capacity to welcome even more. With skill practice in communication, emotional regulation, teamwork, competitiveness (of the healthy variety) and social skills, not to mention the fantastic gross-motor exercise, this program is a prime fit for children working on these areas.
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photo: Marianne Walters

The Classes

Parents and caregivers of children with special needs know that different learning styles require different types of class settings. Spectra offers a complimentary skill evaluation prior to enrollment. The highly qualified staff will help determine which type of lesson or class is most appropriate for your child’s social and physical abilities. With options ranging from private lessons to 3-5 students together, your child’s needs will be met in the most supportive format.

Before beginning a lesson, instructors sit down with students to plan out the session. Picture schedules are used with images of the equipment available, and students take part in planning what they will do during their lesson. Expectations are set for the lesson and students are held to those expectations with developmentally-appropriate and consistent language. Parents can observe the lessons and often enjoy the time spent with other parents of children with similar needs. The instructors work with children and communicate with family members about their progress. Strategies that are used in lessons are discussed, challenges are shared and successes are celebrated by all.

photo: Marianne Walters

The Gym

A fabulous feature for all families in the area is Sensory Saturday Open Gym. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. the doors are opened to children of all abilities to come and play with their parents. The fee is $5 per child, but parents play for free. No drop-offs are allowed and parents must supervise their children, but it’s pretty obvious that no one can resist jumping onto the mats and diving right in. Reservations are not required but the gym is occasionally closed for special events, so check their Facebook page before heading over.


photo: Marianne Walters

The Details

All Inclusive Open Gym
Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon
$5/child (cash or check only)
Parents play free

Private, semi-private and group classes are available.
Tuition rates vary; check the website for details.

Spectra Gymnastics
8344 SW Nimbus Ave.
Online: spectrapdx.com

Have you checked out Spectra Gymnastics yet? Let us know in the comments below!

—Marianne Walters