If you feel your little one is not reaching expected milestones, or have concerns about his or her development, your child’s pediatrician may recommend assistance from programs such as Early Intervention, which provides support for children under three years of age. Via Early Intervention, babies and toddlers learn basic and new skills that generally develop during the first three years of life, including physical, cognitive, communication, social/emotional and self-help. Therapy services for children of all ages can be held at sensory gyms, at home, or in both places.

Sensory gyms offer specialized play equipment such as modified swings, scooters, rock- climbing walls, ball pits, trampolines and toddler-sized treadmills that provide a variety of treatment activities. Licensed and specially-trained pediatric therapists work with your child through play to improve and enhance their fundamental skills. We’re highlighting nine sensory gyms in this feature…read on to learn about their facilities and services.

Sensory Playground, Sensory Gyms

Sensory Playground

Location: 79 Route 520, Suite 101, Morganville

“What makes Morganville’s Sensory Playground so unique are our snoezelen rooms, offering children with autism, ADHD, or developmental disabilities a true sensory experience,” says owner Lori Grossi, OTR/L, SIPT. “Additionally, these rooms are used as an effective treatment for children with tactile issues with clothing, shoes, foods, to desensitize them to tolerate the ‘real’ world without great difficulty that some of these children have.” Adds Grossi: “After leaving our multisensory snoezelen rooms, children with autism often leave with a better organized brain, and can facilitate connection with the outside world.” The snoezelen room consists of a solar effects projector, a multi-colored light up ball pit, interactive sensory panels, music projectors, sound/auditory simulators and giant bubble tubes, all of which can be controlled by the child. “We also have a Gesture Tek visual floor projector that reacts to the child’s movement such as butterflies appearing on the floor as the child jumps.” The 4,200 square foot facility not only has occupational, physical and speech therapy, but also offers art and music therapy, along with behavioral therapy.

Good to Know: This facility accepts all major insurance plans for New Jersey and New York.

More info: www.sensoryplaygroundtherapy.com or call 732-972-8900

Tiny Tots Gym, Sensory Gyms

Tiny Tots Therapy

Location: East Brunswick, Manalapan and Scotch Plains

In its three locations, Tiny Tots provides pediatric therapy to special-needs children, primarily focusing on physical, occupational and speech therapies. The therapists help children enhance their gross and fine motor skills, but in ways that just feel like play. The team at Tiny Tots are big proponents of play, and believe that all children deserve the right to ‘just be kids.’ “The work we do with our kids allows them to have a joyful, free-spirited childhood,” explain owners Rebecca Dean and Marwa Abdelbary. “Our clinics also offer social skills groups, such as our ‘Superhero’ group where children participate in ‘superhero’ activities that engage their gross motor skills, strength and balance.” Although the majority of the children the therapists work with have more pronounced disabilities, the sensory gym also provides services geared toward children who need other types of assistance. Tiny Tots is a proud supporter of Autism Speaks and offers outreach programs through school-based services, home-based services and more.

Good to know: Tiny Tots does not host parties but they do have Open Gym times on Thursdays through Saturdays, when guests are permitted to use the sensory gym.

More info: www.tinytotstherapyinc.com or call 908-380-7715

Kids Blvd, Sensory Gyms

Kids Blvd Gym

Location: 125 Washington Valley Road, Warren

Kids Blvd is a sensory gym open to kids of all abilities, for crawlers and up. “While it is open to children of all abilities, it actually makes for a wonderful social transitioning—and reinforcement tool—for children” says Jennifer Gerhart, COO/Director of Marketing. “After all, achievements made in the presence of therapists do not always translate into more organic environments; a student that has learned to express himself properly with a speech therapist, for instance, may not be able to do the same with his peers.” Kids Blvd furnishes an organic environment where children can work on developing their social and life skills in a fun, safe place. Kids can stretch their play muscles with their peers, and the owners and staffers are constantly trying to provide new, interesting ways to develop children’s abilities through play.

Good to know: Kids Blvd also offers Mommy & Me yoga sessions, enrichment classes, camps, play groups, birthday parties, parent workshops and special events.

More info: www.kidsblvdgym.com or call 732-560-5437

Sensational Therapies

Sensational Therapies, Sensory Gyms

Location: 748 Morris Turnpike, Suite 205, Short Hills

Sensational Therapies provides a wide range of services to address sensory processing, motor coordination and fine motor/skills development. One-on-one sessions, as well as small group classes, are offered in handwriting, as are “Pop Up” gross motor classes throughout the year. Their state-of-the-art sensory gym comes complete with specialized swings, balance equipment, scooter boards, ramps, trampoline and monkey bars, as well as fine motor, gross motor and sensory areas. They specialize in Autism Spectrum Disorders, sensory processing disorders, sensory/behavior issues, ADHD, developmental delays, speech and language delays, neuromuscular conditions, learning disabilities and genetic disorders.

Good to Know: Sensational Therapies is part of Kids Under One Roof, a pediatric learning and therapy center specializing in evaluations and therapy for the preschool and school-age child. In addition to occupational therapy, the team offers Speech and Language therapy, Behavioral Strategies, Cognitive & Educational testing and tutoring, and both Psychiatric and Psychological Services.

More info: www.sensationaltherapies.com or call 973-376-0055

Sensory Kids Social Minds, Sensory Gyms

Sensory Kids & Social Minds

Location: 158 Newark Avenue, Jersey City

“We are working very intensely at integrating all motor planning areas (timing of motor responses, sequencing, shifting quickly our visual attention, making decisions and organizing) and the social emotional development,” says Director Sonia Zayas, OTR/L. “Additionally, we coach parents in facilitating interpretative skills/thought process in their children. We work at integrating speech cognition with all the areas of development.” She adds: “We have an early intervention drop off 6 days a week. We also have ongoing social skill groups for all levels/ ages, as well as handwriting groups.” The facility’s speech/occupational and physical therapists work together to achieve children’s participation in community. ¿Hablas español? The center also has a few bilingual therapists on staff. Sensory Gyms & Social Minds hosts two gyms within its sensory gym—a baby gym especially for the younger set and a big kid gym boasting a rock-climbing wall, monkey bars, zip line, ball pit and castle slide.

Good to Know: Intensive programs will be offered to children this summer. These three-hour sessions are designed to work therapeutically on social thinking, motor planning, sensory processing and social awareness. Staffers will focus on exposing children to a great variety of experiences: cooking, playing sports and age-appropriate games, arts and crafts activities, music therapy and more.

More info: www.sensorykidsandsocialminds.com or 201-324-1700

Jason's Sensory Gym, Sensory Gyms, NJ

Jason’s Sensory Gym

Location: 1183 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck

Jason Bernath, MS, OTR/L, facilitates Jason’s Sensory Gym, a pediatric occupational therapy center located in Teaneck. He is a New Jersey licensed and school-certified occupational therapist with 20 years of experience. Bernath evaluates and treats a wide spectrum of learning disabilities and diagnoses, including but not limited to sensory integration issues, fine and gross motor skill development, motor planning, balance, coordination, auditory processing and handwriting issues. He successfully addresses classroom skills such as attention, organization and problem solving, along with helping children to be independent in the various activities of daily living. “I develop a parent-friendly therapeutic home program designed to meet the child’s unique needs, which is updated after each treatment session,” says Bernath, who approximates that 50 to 75 percent of his young clients are on the autism spectrum. He is also a certified practitioner in various treatment programs, including Interactive Metronome and Integrated Listening Systems.

Good to know: “I work in the various school districts with a significant autistic population,” adds Bernath. “I am constantly giving sensory diets (a specialized regiment of various sensory-based activities that help facilitate a child’s sensory needs in order to regulate their body to focus or attend to a task throughout the day) and sensory-based activities to the teachers in these classrooms, along with sensory integrative in-services to classroom teachers and the whole special services departments.”

More info: www.jasonssensorygym.com or call 201-833-4587

Shore Kids Pediatric Therapies

Shore Kids, Sensory Gyms

Location: 14 Bridgewaters Drive, Oceanport

Co-owned by Jaime Lehrhoff, M.A., LDT-C and Tracy Garguilo, MS, OTR/L, this 3,000 square foot facility offers comprehensive, integrated, multidisciplinary evaluations and treatment services for children ranging from special needs and learning disabilities to children with autism and developmental disabilities. All therapy is provided in a child-friendly, play-based environment; the state-of-the art sensory gym includes a rock wall, suspended equipment, scooter ramp, zip line, monkey bars and more. “Children get the ultimate sensory experience in their warm and fun beach-themed gym,” says Lehrhoff. “All therapy is provided in a one-on-one setting or in small groups based on each child’s needs. Each therapist works closely with their families and believes in the importance of educating the family on how to incorporate sensory experiences into the child’s life on a daily basis.” Therapy is also offered in local schools, as well as the home, when appropriate.

Good To Know: Shore Kids provides many services in addition to occupational therapy. Staff members include speech and language therapists, learning consultants, physical therapists and behaviorists, along with a staff social worker.

More info: www.shorekidspediatrictherapies.com or call 732-460-1500

FunSense, Sensory Gyms

FunSense Gym

Location: 4437 Route 27, Kingston

“This facility has been developed to supplement individual therapies that a child is currently receiving, as well as maintain and fine-tune skills that a child has already established,” says occupational therapist Lauren Jaffe, who has 15 years of experience in this field. Jaffe designs all the classes, which are offered in a small, group format and are intended to improve the following skills: Sensory Processing, Language and Social Skills, Hypotonia, Praxis (Motorplanning), Attention and Processing, Fine and Gross Motor Skills, Bilateral Integration, Mid-Line Crossing, Self-Regulation and Behavior. Prescriptions are not required to attend FunSense classes, as the sessions are not considered a direct therapy service. At FunSense, an occupational and/or speech therapist is present at all times and one-on-one occupational and speech therapy is also available to children who require individualized attention. Staff members have been trained to manage all types of behaviors and are comfortable with children of all ages. FunSense’s gym is designed with all new therapeutic equipment from traditional swings, scooters, monkey bars and a ball pit to the latest X-Box and iPad technologies.

Good to know: The programs are designed so parents can either drop off their children for the duration of the class or stay and relax in the waiting room. Parent education workshops are also offered on a regular basis and are free for members of the gym.

More info: www.funsensegym.com or call 609-955-1440

Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services (POTS OT), Sensory Gyms

Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services

Location: 1415 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck

“Our mission is to provide evaluation, treatment and consultation services for infants, children and their families in a warm, supportive environment to help each and every child meet his or her potential,” explains Director Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, DSP, OTR/L. “Our state-of-the-art facility is designed to entice your child to move, play and grow.” POTS has three sensory gyms, for therapists to work with children one on one or in a group, depending on the needs of each child. There are more than 10 occupational therapists on staff, many with over 15 years of experience. “Many are SIPT certified—the gold-standard test for sensory integration and praxis testing—and most have training in Floortime,” says Warburg. “Our treatment philosophy for children on the autistic spectrum, and for many children, can be described as Sensory Integration/Floortime. The Floortime approach involves meeting a child at his/her current developmental level, and building upon his unique strengths to foster social, emotional and cognitive development.”

Good to know: Other treatment techniques that children on the autistic spectrum can benefit from are Therapeutic Listening and Yoga for Kids. “Also, in the summer, many of our clients benefit from Aqua OT in our outdoor pool,” says Dr. Warburg, adding, “we are one of the few practices that offers MEDEK for children with gross motor delays.”

More info: www.potsot.com or call 201-837-9993

Hero (Top) Image Courtesy: © spass/Dollar Photo Club
Additional Body Images (in order) Courtesy:
Sensory Playground
Tiny Tots Therapy
Kids Blvd Gym
Sensational Therapies
Sensory Kids & Social Minds
Jason’s Sensory Gym
Shore Kids Pediatric Therapies
FunSense Gym
Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services

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