Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Franchise Caters to Children with Special Needs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Franchise Caters to Children with Special Needs

Article excerpt

EDMOND - Kristin Haynes has a place for her daughter to play, one where the 5-year-old won't get told to leave.

Her daughter, Shayla, has a sensory processing disorder and was frequently kicked out of day care and gymnastics classes because of her tantrums.

"I feel like the parents and instructors don't understand what she's going through," Haynes said.

But Haynes found a franchise that could provide her 5-year-old daughter a place to play. The company's tagline struck her: Finally a place where you never have to say I'm sorry.

Haynes, her sister Kortney Brummel, and brother-in-law Danny Brummel are building We Rock the Spectrum Gym-Oklahoma City. The franchise caters to children with special needs, including those on the autism spectrum. The trio will be the first Oklahoma franchisees.

Haynes adopted Shayla last year and quickly realized she had special needs. She discovered that swinging helped with her daughter's sensory processing disorder. She continued researching and found the California-based franchise.

Haynes is among the growing number of businesses opening to meet the needs of families with children who have special needs. Oklahoma Autism Network Director Rene' Daman said there are more services catering to children with autism, in part because the disorder's prevalence is increasing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder.

Nationwide, the franchise is growing quickly, said founder and CEO Dina Kimmel. Her son Gabriel was diagnosed with autism in 2009. He didn't speak and sometimes threw tantrums when the family went to play at a kids' gym. She said she was frustrated after being kicked out after her son had an outburst.

Kimmel said she was tired of apologizing for her son's behavior, so she cleared the furniture out of a bedroom in her home and filled it with occupational therapy equipment. She said people found out about what she did at her home and encouraged her to open a business. …

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