All posts by wrts santa monica

Family, Adult & Child Therapies

The roots of FACT are firmly planted in facilitating better mental health for both the child and the family.

FACT dates back to the 1980’s and a group of parents whose children, diagnosed with Autism, were participating in programs operated at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA. The supervisor of those programs at the University is today FACT‘s Executive Director, Linda Andron-Ostrow.

In 1999, because of an ongoing lack of information, and the difficulty of finding ways to treat and live with ASD, FACT was formed by a group of parents so that families of children with autism could support one another, and their kids could “freely be who they are”.

In essence, parents needed to build a community to deal with the challenges and pressures of bringing up children with autism, aspergers, and other pervasive developmental disabilities.

Over the past ten years FACT families have watched their children grow, graduate high schools and colleges, serve on juries, hold jobs, and get married – in essence realize a simple dream, “being all a family can be”.

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Autism Spectrum Therapies

While AST is committed to providing families with community, resources and information, the most important way we serve families is through our quality services and individualized programs.

We understand that receiving an autism diagnosis is a pivotal moment in the life of your family.  Confusion and worry for the future can quickly become overwhelming.  We want to reassure you that it is not the label that defines who a person is.  An autism diagnosis can be the key to gaining access to services that can make a tremendous shift in the course of your loved one’s development.  There is so much promise for what can be gained and achieved.

In this section you will learn more about what options are available.  We encourage you to call our team with any questions you may have or to discuss what program is right for your child.

We promise to be a trusted source of quality services, information and support.

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Beautiful Minds Center for Autism

Beautiful Minds Center for Autism is built on a foundation of hope and commitment to helping children and families affected by Autism and other related development disorders. Our staff is comprised of dedicated professionals that are passionate about helping families understand the complexities of the disorders so their children can reach their fullest potential.

Our mission is to promote growth, learning and progress through specialized programs that are tailored to each child’s specific needs. At Beautiful Minds, we share a common goal to provide families with beneficial services and personalized interventions that integrate proven scientific therapies in order to reduce maladaptive behaviors and improve appropriate behaviors, communication skills, social skills and coping mechanisms.

We believe that in order for children with Autism to achieve their maximum potential for independent living and emotional well being in the home, school and community, their parents and families must serve as integral parts of the treatment process.

In order to foster the development of your child and create a better quality of life for everyone involved, Beautiful Minds implements a unique and progressive program that incorporates innovative behavioral and teaching techniques in a nurturing environment.

We have developed an intensive behavioral program available 7 days a week that focuses on increasing positive and adaptive behaviors through scientifically based therapeutic techniques. Each child will work with a team of therapists that employ a combination of techniques to facilitate growth and learning.

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Roxanne Benjamin

Roxanne Benjamin, MA, OTR/L is a pediatric Occupational Therapist practicing in the West Los Angeles area. As a therapist and a new mom to her own daughter, she understands the challenges that come with the joys of parenting, and the importance of having the right support and guidance through it all. Roxanne received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California, and has a great passion for working with children with special needs. She has experience working with children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, and other genetic conditions. Roxanne’s primary focus is in the areas of Sensory Integration, Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT), feeding, and handwriting. She has worked with children from the ages of 9 months to 9 years old. Roxanne has worked at several pediatric clinics in the Greater Los Angeles area, and currently works at a clinic in Santa Monica. She additionally has her own private practice working with children in their home and community settings.

New Play Place Haven For Autistic Children – Sept. 16, 2013

SANTA MONICA—We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is Santa Monica’s first play place to provide specialized services for the growing number of families that have children with autism.

On September 21, We Rock the Spectrum, threw its grand opening party at 1909 Santa Monica Blvd. Every day children come to play on the gym equipment, explore the indoor play structure, and participate in arts and crafts, like beading or painting. Swings, tunnels, balance beams, trampolines, toys, crash mats and more are all available for children’s amusement.

Grand Opening Flyer

Debra Kelley Davis, owner of the Santa Monica We Rock the Spectrum, explains on the center’s website her inspiration to bring the center to the community after her 13-year-old autistic daughter, Ryane, found solace at a 2012 We Rock the Spectrum summer camp in Tarzana.

“I jumped at the opportunity to bring this wonderful place to the Santa Monica community and to fulfill both my passion in helping others, be a part of the autism community, and assist in meeting the growing demand to give all kids a place to call their own,” Davis wrote on the company’s “About Us” website page.

This growing demand is due to the rapidly rising rates of children who have autism. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 88 children in the U.S. are affected by autism—representing a 23 percent increase in incidence rates from 2006 to 2008.

Autism, a type of neurological disorder, causes impairments of various degrees in social interaction, communication and behavior. Children with autism often, “need a place where they can be themselves without having to say ‘I’m sorry’ or having to constantly explain their wonderfully unique expressions and physical movements; rather they are simply accepted,” wrote Davis.

We Rock the Spectrum’s mission is to be that inclusive place for all children. The gym uses occupational therapy equipment designed to help all children develop “in the areas of strength, movement, sensory processing, communication, behavior modification, social interactions, and self-care skills,” according to the center’s website.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children with developmental and behavioral disorders struggle to develop, learn and/or regulate their emotions because they have difficulty integrating sensory inputs from their environment. Sensory-based occupational therapy can help these children organize sensory information in their brain and improve functioning. Pediatrics cautions, however, the research on the effectiveness of occupational sensory-based therapies is “limited and inconclusive,” but may be “acceptable as one of the components of a comprehensive treatment plan.”

Inside the Rock Shop

Other features of We Rock the Spectrum are its services, which allows parents to leave their child under the supervision of staff for up to three hours while they go run a few errands or relax. The center also has a Rock Shop that “offers parents the best selection of hand-picked sensory-based toys and puzzles,” as stated on their website.

The gym will also be providing classes for both parents and children beginning the first week of October. Classes include ConfiDANCE, a dance workout for mothers, Coach Kees fun fitness for children, GuiDANCE, a special-needs dance class, and a yoga class called Love Tribe for moms.

On September 24, We Rock the Spectrum posted on their Facebook page that “Fairy Tale Theater” would be coming to the center’s winter camp.

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WRTS 2014 Walk Now For Autism Speaks Los Angeles

“Being the Grand Club Sponsors for Walk Now for Autism Speaks Los Angeles was one of the most incredible days of my life!” says founder Dina Kimmel.We stood in front of over 60 thousand people and know now more than ever that when a WRTS is opening, we are making a difference in the world and giving a home to so many families. “Finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry” is a need in all communities says Kimmel. A big thank you to Kathleen Lantos Photography as we now get to relive one of the most incredible days in WRTS history! Check out this amazing video above, and see what WRTS and Autism Awareness is all about…

How Siblings of Children with Autism are Affected

How Siblings of Children with Autism are Affected

As parents of children with Autism, we understand they require specialized care and attention. Depending upon which part of the spectrum a child falls under, the extent of the support will vary from helping them accomplish daily tasks to needing assisted care on a continual basis. Regardless of the extent of the therapy solutions, parents try anything and everything to give their children the support they need to reach their full potential.

But what about the siblings of the children with autism?

Just like how parents’ lives change when they discover their child has autism, their other children are also affected but in a much different way. Siblings have to stand by and watch, feeling helpless as their beloved brother or sister is affected by a disorder they will not fully understand until later in life. This has the potential to cause anxiety and difficulty in expressing emotions, which can lead to the siblings lashing out at their parents or brother and sister.

Parents who have children that fall into these categories are often at a loss as to how they should address the problems their children are facing. On one hand, they know their child with autism needs the added attention and Occupational, Behavioral, or Speech therapy required. On the other hand, their neurotypical children are feeling neglected and possibly left out – which is also tough on the parents.

While the sibling who has autism is receiving the care and attention they need from therapy, the neurotypical siblings finds themselves watching, almost in the shadows, while the other child receives a large part of the attention. Even though many siblings of children with autism try to understand the need their brother or sister has for the added attention, feelings of jealousy, depression, anger and resentment often arise.

This was the case in my family prior to the creation of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. My son Gabriel, who has autism, was receiving therapy from professionals as well as utilizing a sensory gym I had set up in my own home. Prior to the in-home gym, Gabriel would receive the lion’s share of attention while my daughter Sophia often stood by and missed out on some of her own activities. Even though Sophia tried hard to understand, she stated on more than one occasion, “I wish I had autism.” This broke my heart as I immediately knew this was her way of letting me know she felt left out and alone.

I want both of my children to feel that they are perfect the way they are, which inspired me to create an in-home gym full of fun, sensory equipment for Gabriel to improve his own skills but to also give Sophia a place where she can play with her brother and friends. It wasn’t quite everything Sophia needed, but it was a step in the right direction and drove me to create and found a gym that changed my family’s lives for the better, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym.
We Rock the Spectrum not only allows children to play together, but offers a place where play dates can be arranged for a group. We did this early on with Sophia and Gabriel. He would get his necessary therapy in the gym, and she would be able to feel like a kid again and play with her friends.


Because the gym is monitored, safe, and regulated by the dynamic staff, children can make their own play dates with their own friends from school, camp, or other social groups and meet to play and have a great time. With the option to set up play dates for your children and their friends, parents no longer have to worry about telling their typically developing children they cannot have a play date because of a therapy need of their sibling with autism.

By having the ability to play together at We Rock the Spectrum, families with children who fall into both categories now have the ability to say “yes” much more often than ever before, allowing all children to play, have fun, and feel important. Benefiting the entire family, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym helps to create a more positive dynamic at home and allows children who are typically developing to feel they are receiving similar attention as their sibling with autism.

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation’s mission is to assist families who need additional financial assistance for the therapy and care of their children with special needs to receive the support they deserve.

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation was created in honor of Sophia, my daughter who rocks every single day. Sophia has watched as her brother Gabriel has grown and developed from the time he was diagnosed with autism to how capable he is today. Not only have Sophia and Gabriel been the inspiration for my creation of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, but Sophia has become a young therapist in her own right. It wasn’t always easy, but her curiosity to learn, determination to assist her brother, and desire to help others has led her to have a positive influence on many of the children at We Rock the Spectrum. Over and over again, we see children who are typically developing assisting their friends and siblings who have special needs, a dynamic that is allowed to foster and grow in our gyms by having an inclusive philosophy and gyms full of amazing parents and staff. Here is what Sophia had to say: “I feel great because I can help my brother and I can help other kids, even kids with Down Syndrome. I am not a Junior Helper any more, I am now a Coach.”

The foundation helps to fund a variety of activities at the gym for families who qualify and need the assistance, including monthly memberships and equipment. The foundation also helps families finance the personal aide some children with special needs require in order to attend a camp or activities at the gym. As the cost for a full-time or part-time aide for a child can become extremely expensive, the foundation is able to help defer some of these costs in order to allow all children to experience the benefits found at the gym through camps and play time.

Through both the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym and My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation, all children, whether suffering developmental disabilities or not, are able to take full advantage of the fantastic, specially designed equipment, open play area, arts and crafts section and come away with a feeling of peace, happiness and accomplishment!

7 Ways We Rock the Spectrum Helps Children with ADHD

We created the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym (WRTS) franchise with a unique purpose: to provide children with autism and other special needs an inclusive play environment they could enjoy with their peers. At WRTS, children are able to take advantage of sensory play equipment in order to grow and develop the skills they will need later in life. Our inclusive philosophy allows children of all ability levels to play and grow together.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the many conditions where WRTS can help children overcome challenges. Children with ADHD have trouble focusing and often times act without thinking. ADHD symptoms can range widely. These include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities which produces work that is often messy and careless
  • Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli, frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
  • Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
  • Difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
  • Frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
  • Failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
  • Frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations

“Children with ADHD have a hard time self-stimulating,” says Jess Lofland, owner of We Rock the Spectrum ~ Woodland Hills. “This is why the activities inside We Rock the Spectrum are so beneficial to children with ADHD. The safe, stimulating environment gives them what they cannot give themselves – a real focus. The end result is a feeling of capability that will lead to a healthier development.”

We Rock the Spectrum helps children with ADHD in a variety of ways. We’ve listed seven of these below, with an added bonus because we love you ;-)



1. Body Regulation Assistance
WRTS assists children with ADHD by helping them with body regulation assistance from the sensory equipment. The sensory equipment at WRTS is specially designed to aid children in their development. Children with all types of issues are able to positively react and grow from the use of this sensory equipment.

2. Break from School
Having a release from work after school gives these children the release their bodies need in order to focus and regulate themselves. Before starting their homework, a trip to the gym helps children with ADHD better focus later on. With the after school programs held at WRTS, children can come to the gym and enjoy some play time before diving back into their studies.

3. Complements Occupational Therapy
Our sensory equipment is meant to complement Occupational Therapy, not replace it. The sensory equipment offers challenges that can be left out from other therapy and helps stimulate a child’s brain and assists them in overcoming ADHD, giving parents an option that can be more beneficial in the long run than medication. The equipment offers a highly stimulating environment where focus is required. This causes the child with ADHD to narrow their focus and work to figure out various pieces of equipment on their own.

4. Social Skills Enhancement
The fourth way WRTS helps children with ADHD is to assist them with their social skills. Many times we see children with ADHD have trouble making friends or keeping them. With our inclusive approach and a dynamic staff that carries out our philosophy inside every gym, children are able to learn appropriate behaviors that can aid them in making friends while at the gym. These behaviors frequently extend to the school environment, where an increase in friends is also common.

5. Provides a Community for Children and Parents
WRTS is a community for all kids. Our inclusive approach helps children make friends with their peers and our gym becomes a place where friends can congregate together. The same is true with parents. Parents with children diagnosed with ADHD can often feel aligned or left out (which is the case with many parents whose children have been diagnosed with a disorder) and the team and parents of WRTS make up a fantastic support network of like-minded adults who have the goal of assisting their children.

6. The Comfort of “Fidget Toys”
Many children with ADHD, regardless of the severity, can benefit from having a comfort toy they can hold and maneuver in their hands while at school or at home. This helps them remain calm and focused while feeling secure and allows the skills they learn at WRTS to translate to the school environment. We supply an assortment of these toys in each We Rock the Spectrum for this very reason. The use of “fidget toys” offers the necessary distraction for the body while their minds hone in on what is being asked and instructed.

7. A Focused Approach to Creativity
The Arts and Crafts area of WRTS allows children to have a creative outlet and the ability to decompress while staying focused on the item they are creating. Allowing their hands to work and create while their mind does the guiding aids children with ADHD in their ability to focus, along with giving them a unique and new activity to participate in.

BONUS: The Guidance of the WRTS Staff
When the staff notices a child spending a great deal of time on only one activity they work to persuade them to try other things, which helps their minds continually adapt and experience stimulation from this change in activities. Our staff is always monitoring the activities going on inside the gym and will work with children that need the extra attention to grow. This helps children to be allowed to experience a variety of social interactions and which helps to meet the needs of the children with ADHD.

In conclusion, when children are provided with the stimulation from We Rock the Spectrum that they cannot get themselves, they begin to grow. This positive experience makes them feel able and capable in ways they might not feel in other social situations. A confidence is developed as a routine of success is established, and there is a real improvement in a child’s self-esteem.

Do you have a child with ADHD? What other benefits have you seen We Rock the Spectrum provide?  We’d love to hear from you.  Give us a call at 818-996-6620 or email us at

We Rock the Spectrum is for All Parents!

The team at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym offers a long list of activities for special needs children to participate in and enjoy with their typically developing peers. This allows parents of special needs children to have a place to take all their children and know they won’t be separated, but instead offered the opportunity to play, grow and develop together. The We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym has a ton of equipment and activities to do with special needs children including sensory-based gym equipment and strength improving equipment as well.

As a result of playing and participating in activities for special needs children offered by We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym, children will be able to improve their attention span, on task behavior, coordination, poster, motor planning, muscle tone, and motor development. This all takes place while the kids are playing and being fully active inside the gym. With a whole list and range of great play equipment to give the staff and parents plenty of activities to do with special needs children and children that are typically developing.

Some of the biggest differences between traditional indoor play gyms and the gym at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym are the unique style of equipment to use. Most indoor play gyms don’t have the right equipment in place for special needs children. The We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym offers the first gym of its type for children to take advantage of regardless of skill or development level.

The specialized equipment, sensory based toys, arts and crafts area and programs that are set up for kids of all ability levels are designed and perfected to help all children grow and develop, especially children who have special needs. Take a look at what is offered at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym and find out how they can help your children grow, develop and most of all have fun.

Birthday Parties at We Rock The Spectrum are For All Kids!

Birthday parties are getting bigger and bigger each year with parents trying to find a great way to celebrate the special day for their children. If you are looking for great ideas for kids birthday parties you should check out the facilities at the We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym. Their facility offers four different birthday party packages to choose from in order to celebrate your child’s special day.

The packages offered at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym start with a package that does not offer any staff assistance, but simply the use of the facility leaving you responsible for the cleanup and works its way up to a fully staffed party where all the children take home some party favors. So far this sounds like a typical party that can be held at a restaurant, club or party hall, but the biggest difference is the staff and facility.

Any party at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym offers the full use of the equipment included in the gym except for the zip line. This means the party of children can utilize the swings, climbing structures, crash mats and pillows, tunnels, arts and crafts area and small sensory based toys. Kids are able to let loose and be kids during any party at the gym. A party with the staff of We Rock The Spectrum Gym will be even more fun than one without and offers you the opportunity to really enjoy the party without having to be bothered with cleanup and hosting.
As a gym that specializes in helping kids of all ability levels to develop the gym offers a birthday party option that even caters to children of special needs. Let your children have a great time with a party at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym regardless of their ability, and watch them and the whole party have a great time and make lasting memories.