My name is Sherease Alston and I am very excited to be a co-owner of the We Rock the Spectrum Staten Island location. Several life events have led me down the path to open a We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. In 2006, having had my own child for 9 years I decided to make a career change and start my own day care in East New York, Brooklyn called Little Minds at Work. I was ecstatic to open my first business and learn more about children because I had one of my own and I planned on having more. Starting the day care wasn’t easy but I was determined to make it work for the sake of my future and my legacy.
Fast forward to 2013 and at this time I now had two lovely daughters and was expecting my first son. My son Josiah was born and I was ecstatic. As previously mentioned, I had 2 daughters who were thriving in school, my day care had become a pillar of my community and I became the Vice Chair for group family childcare UFT and Liaison for Bank Street Guttman Center. Josiah is the son I have always dreamed of. He is cheerful, loving and just an all-around joy. However, when he was about 8 months, I noticed certain characteristics of his development that I didn’t experience with my daughters. Josiah would go hide in the corner of a room or he would tap something on his hand for sensory development. This wasn’t normal for a child of his age. He was very reserved around others and I was concerned about that.
As a professional caregiver I have counseled many families about what they should do if they experience what they believe are developmental delays. I give them the same advice that I would use with my children. So I utilized all my resources possible to come up with the best possible solutions to help my son be the best he can be. After numerous visits to medical doctors, psychologists, and many different therapists Josiah was diagnosed with autism. This news wasn’t pleasant but it wasn’t devastating. It gave me a clear direction that I needed to follow for my son to be the best human being he can be. Now that I knew what the delay was, I had to plan a course of action.
Fast forward to 2019 and Josiah is now school age and he is in Kindergarten. Josiah had be receiving early childhood intervention services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and ABA services. But the department of education said he would not be continuing most of these services when he started school. This wasn’t great news because Josiah thrived with these services. I had nowhere to turn to because the department of education wasn’t being receptive to my requests. I turned to my entrepreneur spirits in hopes that if they didn’t want to listen, I would have to help my son with my own resources. It can become frustrating and cumbersome to deal a bureaucracy. So I decided that I wanted to start a center that can service his needs with a place that I didn’t have to apologize for his diagnosis. The experience I’ve had when I took Josiah to a place like a park or a recreational indoor place with other children was that I had to apologize because autistic children tend to play and react differently than other kids. I didn’t feel I should have to apologize for something that he nor I did. I then thought to myself, if I’m feeling like this then millions of other parents must be also.
I wanted a place that would be inclusive of all kids but would specialize in their diagnosis and cater to their needs. I wanted a place that they can thrive. While doing my research I stumbled upon We Rock the Spectrum’s website. It was a match made in heaven! I took Josiah to their Staten Island location and not only did he fall in love with it but I fell in love with it also. They catered to his needs with equipment that specializes in services for children that need O.T. and P.T. They had everything and I know I needed to be a part of this wonderful community. I contacted my first daughter’s teacher Ola Alabi because I wanted his input and expertise about buying into this franchise. We immediately thought it was something we both wanted to be a part of. We Rock the Spectrum will allow me to continue my mission in helping every child I encounter to be the best they can be. Josiah was a gift that helped me find my path to helping him and others. By aligning with Ola, we are bringing a wealth of experience, expertise and loving hearts to a franchise that has embraced us.