On a bright weekday morning Dax Witter, age 3, is having a difficult day. It’s the second week of school and the change in routine is making him anxious. His sister, the family dog, even his parent’s attempts at engaging him result in tears. Diagnosed with autism, his parents reach for his SPIO compression suit, a shirt that applies deep pressure to help him calm down and focus.
“Once we brought it home and tested it out we noticed the difference right away.” said Dax’s mother, Aimee Bain. She said the shirt helps him become affectionate, fight less with his sister, and engage in less self-stimulation. “Small little things you wouldn’t notice, but as parents we notice.”
SPIO compression systems were developed within Children’s Therapy Center, which is the founding member of Dynamic Partners, a consortium of non-profits and social enterprises dedicated to improving the lives of children with special needs by working together and sharing resources. Last year, their pitch at SIFP to establish Dynamic Labs won the $20,000 Zino Society Award.
“Dynamic Labs is a social enterprise incubator,” says the Dynamic Partners’ CEO, Jon Botten. “It is our intent to replicate the success of SPIO by finding, vetting and then launching products and services designed to help children with special needs realize their full potential. Any profits generated will be invested back into the missions of our nonprofit partners Children’s Therapy Center and SKIP Early Intervention.”
Jon credits the Social Innovation Fast Pitch for giving the group a vote a confidence that they were on the right path. “The seed money and wisdom of coaches and mentors was invaluable. Feedback helped us refine both our pitch and business model.”
Currently, Dynamic Partners is in the process of hiring their first Director of Social Enterprises to lead their current social enterprises and help launch new ones through Dynamic Labs. “I can honestly say we would not be hiring this new position had we not had the SIFP opportunity and won the award,” says Botten.
Dynamic Partners is also in the process of purchasing and renovating an 18,000 s.f. facility in Burien that will offer pediatric therapy, orthotics as well as be the home for SPIO and Dynamic Labs. They were also selected as a Social Venture Partner investee, a three to five year relationship designed to help this unique partnership increase their capacity and impact.
What started 32 years ago by a handful of visionary therapists has evolved into an innovative consortium that is currently comprised of two nonprofits (Children’s Therapy Center and SKIP Early Intervention), two social enterprises (Dynamic Orthotics and SPIO), and the new social enterprise incubator Dynamic Labs. Collectively they claim to be the largest and most comprehensive pediatric therapy program in Washington State and one of the largest in the country. Last year alone they served over 2,400 children with special needs in South King and Pierce County with another 300 on the waiting list. Worldwide, Botten says they sell over 400 SPIO compression suits a month in more than 50 different countries.
Profits generated by SPIO benefit the non-profit organizations within Dynamic Partners which is also a good thing for Dax and his family who head to the Children’s Therapy Center weekly. “The suit has been pretty amazing”, says his mother, Aimee Bain.