CourtSide with ACEing Autism – Summer Newsletter

We have been delivering tennis to children with autism since 2008 and have witnessed firsthand the benefits. Improvements to motor skills, fitness, attention and social interaction are some of the areas we have noted. Having just read Nicolette Zeliadt’s article called “Autism in Motion” in Spectrum News, I am excited to learn that researchers are starting to analyze movement problems in autism. Movement has often been overlooked in autism research even though we know that motor skills are critical for social development. I am so excited to learn that scientists are starting to focus their research on “brain features that might underlie motor difficulties.” With these studies we will learn more about the benefits of hitting forehands and backhands for children with autism!
– Richard Spurling, Executive Director & Co-Founder
Launches – Since May we have introduced five new ACEing Autism programs to the following areas: Ypsilanti, MI, Cooperstown, NY, Great Neck, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Yorba Linda, CA. We extend the warmest of welcomes and appreciation to our new Program Directors Celina Cerf, Angelica Taylor, Anouk Lambers, Dalia Khakshoor, Denis and Zdenka Olenik, and AJ Song, as well as their dedicated cohort of volunteers for launching such incredible programs.

New launches – We are excited to be launching our first Virginia program in Williamsburg, VA under the leadership of Program Director, Donald Widener at the end of the month to close out our summer launches!

Tune into the stories below to read about some of our featured staff and their awesome programs.

King 5 News reports on our Seattle Program Director Kailyn Skjonsby full story click here
Sue Hites, Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Program Director, Sue Hites, partnered with Autism Speaks for their annual autism walk in April. As this was Sue’s first time joining forces with Autism Speaks, she was not sure of what the outcome would be but hoped for the best. And surely enough that’s what she got! Sue and her Atlanta team of 50+ ACEing Autism parents, volunteers and supporters managed to raise $4,000 in the name of autism and was named one of the largest contributors of Atlanta’s autism walk. Way to go Sue and team!
Frances Tiafoe visits ACEing Autism Houston (click to watch video)
Our mission is to connect kids with autism through tennis and we have been able to do just that by partnering with autism community members and hosting great events for families in need. Tune into the latest reports of our biggest events of the year…
The 2017 Los Angeles Racquet Run – To watch coverage from Talk Tennis with interviews and stories from the day, click here.
ACEing Autism-Charlotte completes most-attended spring session – A string of perfect weather greeted our Charlotte program this spring along with new and returning families, volunteers and friends. The 2nd Annual Charlotte Racquet Run raised Over $1,300 thanks to all the participants and our friends at Vineyard Vines, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company and the Charlotte Latin School.
Stephanie’s Day Hundreds of families came together to support what many of them all have in common, a child with autism. This fun-filled event was an outlet for families to learn of the many resources for children within the autism community. ACEing Autism was one of many vendors that introduced a unique activity to a population eager to learn new skills. A mini-clinic was offered during the entire event to anyone who wanted to take a shot. This was many of the children’s first time ever playing tennis, and quickly became a hit by the show of endless smiles and laughter. ACEing Autism is proud to have been a partner of this event for the past 4 years and would like to thank CBS studios for hosting yet another successful Stephanie’s Day!

Upcoming News

North Carolina friends: Save the date for our clinic at the Winston-Salem Open – Sunday, August 20, 2017

Registration is open now and limited spots remain – to register click here

FREE clinic from 1:30 – 2:30pm followed by early round matches at the Winston-Salem Open. Email aceingwinstonsalem@gmail.com for ticket info.

ACEing Autism returns to Flushing Meadows – Sunday, August 27, 2017 – We are thrilled to be planning one of our most unique events of the year! ACEing Autism’s Board of Directors, program directors from across the country and key supporters will be on hand for our 4th annual clinic in Flushing Meadows at the US Open. Join us while spots remain for interested and experienced ACEing Autism participants. To register click here.

You are invited to take part in Partner Up for Autism Gentleman’s Day and Ladies Day Tournament 2017 at MountainGate Country Club.

For more information please visit our website – click here

Updates in Autism Research

Motor skills matter! – Studies have shown that motor skills are critical for the development of social skills, even in early infancy. There are now increasing research efforts to better quantify and characterize motor development and  skills in children with ASD and to understand the specific brain networks that subserve motor skills.

At the Center of Autism Research and Treatment, Dr. Rujuta Bhatt, is using the latest technology to better evaluate motor difficulties in children with ASD. Dr. Bhatt is using parent report of daily living and quantitative measures of motor function to identify subtle changes in motor planning, coordination, and balance. One of these methods is Motion Capture Analysis which provides a 3D image of the full body and analyzes intricate motor information. Through a partnership between ACEing Autism and CART, we are designing a pilot study in several ACEing Autism programs to determine how tennis helps motor function and how gains in motor function relate to daily life activities and social communication.

Here are some links to key studies and articles in this area: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27314943

Early motor delays (including sitting and rolling over) relate to delays in babbling and gestures in infants at risk for autism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27429731

Differences in patterns of brain connectivity relate to poorer performance in motor skills assessments in children with autism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21546566

Current perspectives on motor functioning in infants, children, and adults with autism spectrum disorder. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21660499

Gait patterns differentiate children with ASD from those with ADHD