TYLER — A program for children with autism is using the game of tennis to impact their lives.
ACEing Autism launched with 15 kids in 2008 with hopes of reaching more than 4,000 by the end of 2021.
The program is now in its 10th year.
One of the program’s goals is to build better relationships with other children.
"This is what it's all about we get kids on the court playing tennis, having fun, working on their motor skills and making social connections,” Richard Spurling, founder and executive director of ACEing Autism, said.
Spurling founded the program with his wife Dr. Shafali Spurling Jeste.
According to the program’s website, Dr. Jeste interest in child behavior led her to pursue a career in behavioral child neurology, with a focus on developmental disorders such as autism.
“We actually have 52 programs in operation today all around the country in 23 states in the last 12 months we added 20 new programs,” Spurling said.
Parents of children with autism say the program has given their children an identity outside of being a child with autism.
Through ACEing Autism children may learn tennis from real-life professionals like Katrina Adams.
Adams is the CEO of the United States Tennis Association and chairperson of the US Open.
“Having a racquet in these kids hand and an understanding of this sport to go out and have fun, it's about having fun and building relationships,” Adams said.
Currently there are more than 60 programs within the United States.
“Our vision is to keep adding programs,” Spurling said. “Our goal is to keep adding 15 programs a year all around the country and each program we have 15 children on average,” he said.
The Tyler program is located at the Tyler Athletic and Swim Club off of Oak Boulevard.
If you'd like to contribute to ACEing Autism and its cause feel free to donate here.