It was December 31, 2019, when Lisa Audi learned that Latham’s Ring Around the Spectrum, a sensory gym designed for children with autism, was closing. “I laughed, because we had been in the space that day,” she says. “Because where else would a single parent of a deaf, hard-of-hearing, autistic kid spend New Year’s Eve?”
The pandemic, of course, followed soon after. But the thought of opening her own sensory gym—and more—stayed in Audi’s mind.
In March of 2022, Audi opened Bring on the Spectrum, her own take on a sensory gym and community space for the Capital Region’s neurodivergent individuals, on Fuller Road in Colonie. In addition to swings, slides and tactile interactives, Bring on the Spectrum has games like Jenga, corn hole and air hockey, as well as Zumba, ceramics and Lego programs that encourage interaction—something with which many people on the autism spectrum struggle. “If you’re here for Lego club, everybody here likes Lego,” says Audi. “And so as you try to connect to other peers in the community, you have a starter. You have that to talk about.”
And there’s really no limit to what Audi is willing to offer. “I have a woman who was like, ‘My grandson loves magic shows. Could you do a magic show?’” she says. “I have a young man that comes in for the sensory gym with a rubber snake. So we’ve looked into doing a reptile show. I don’t care what we do here. I don’t want to burn the building down, but the ideas really come from the community.”
Join Lisa and the nine other 2023 honorees at our annual Capital Region Gives Back event on December 6 at Putnam Place.