BRANDON (FOX 13) - It’s hard to believe less than two years ago 6-year-old Lizzie could barely talk or socialize with others.
Lizzie is just one of the dozens of children who go to We Rock the Spectrum in Brandon to play and learn. The full-inclusion, indoor sensory gym welcomes all kids and abilities but specializes in sensory-safe experiences. It’s the perfect place for Lizzie, who has sensory needs and speech delay.
"She's made a lot of progress. She's talking more and making more eye contact. It's really neat to see Lizzie come out and learn more with us," said occupational therapist, Vanessa Fox.
Vanessa works alongside We Rock the Spectrum owner Valerie Bailey. Together, they cater to each child’s individual needs.
"We are able to help children of all abilities. They can come here with their siblings. They can play and have fun and get out their energy," Valerie explained to FOX 13.
They make sure to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small.
"Whether it be eye contact for the first time, saying their first words, putting a sentence together, or actually having social skills where they come and give us hugs...they become a part of our family," said Valerie.
Valerie knows the importance of family. Her son, Kaleb, has been volunteering at We Rock the Spectrum for two years and remembers Lizzie’s first day.
"Ever since then, she's been my best friend," Kaleb said. "I play with her all the time."
It's friends like Kaleb and the rest of the team that remind Natalie her daughter is capable of anything.
"She can overcome the challenges," Natalie said, "and letting a child use their bodies they way it needs to be used really helps in their development."