CYPRESS, Texas – Moms and dads know play is important to young kids. The right kind of play is especially important to autistic kids.
That's the idea at Rock the Spectrum Gym, which opened a few weeks ago in Cypress.
Kids are perpetual motion machines. While most children like moving around, autistic children need it.
Veronica Youngblood is mom to an autistic son.
"He has to be in constant motion," she said. "It allows him to concentrate later on."
Jake Youngblood is 9, nonverbal and swinging is clearly his favorite activity.
"He can go through his whole day, once he does things like this. It's easier to manage his tantrums. He can calm himself down," his mother said.
While Rock the Spectrum looks like a regular kids' gym, it is specifically designed for autistic kids.
In November, the Centers for Disease Control came out with a new parent survey. As many as 1 in 45 kids are diagnosed with some type of autism.
Often autistic children need therapy at least once a week.
"Occupational therapy is 150$ an hour, so it's very expensive," Lana Horna, gym owner, said.
Much of the equipment at her gym is similar to what therapists use. It's a chance to supplement that therapy at fraction the cost.
Prices are $12 for the first child and $10 for siblings. There is no time limit and kids don't have to be autistic to come.
Take the 4-year-old Frandsen twins. Ronan is autistic. Devlyn is not and acts as a teacher.
"Ronan will do a lot of things that his brother does that he wouldn't normally do," Robert Frandsen, their father, said.
Parents say the improved behavior helps the whole family. Mom Melissa Palomarez's 2-year-old son Brennan was recently diagnosed.
"When we leave (the gym) we always go the grocery store or do something I'm not typically able to do with him because he's gotten all of his energy out here. It's been amazing," she said.
For Lana Hornak, the gym is a labor of love. Her 7-year-son is autistic.
Talking about the benefits she sees, Lana lists, "Decrease of destructive behavior, aggression, better eye contact, social skills, better interaction, better speech."
She calls it all "a little miracle."