Thanh Truong / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS — On the surface, this looks like just an introduction to tennis, but there’s a deeper purpose.

Autism touches everyone on this court, whether they’ve been diagnosed with the developmental disease or helping families find a way to engage their autistic child.

‘It is hard to find programs for kids with autism, so that was what so appealing about it, it was something else that he could try,’ said Sherri Peppo.

Peppo’s son Zachary is getting a crash course in tennis.

Zachary’s mom said the fact that he’s even on the court is a big step.

‘He doesn’t always tend to like sports, because he can’t keep up with other kids,’ she said.

Here, that’s not so much an issue. ACEing for autism is a non-profit program with the goal of giving autistic children and their families an opportunity to get moving.

‘First of all they get exercise, they don’t get a lot of that because there’s not that many options,’ said Morgan Brady, the New Orleans regional director for ACEing For Autism. ‘Another thing is they get social skills, a chance to get social interactions with us, the coaches and other children with autism.’

And medical experts say socializing is one of the big hurdles for autistic children.

Founder Richard Spurling said play-based programs like this one can offers an alternative outlet that doesn’t strictly rely on medicine.

‘We want to make this a part of the weekly routine of these families,’ Spurling said. ‘It’s a way for them to gain social skills, self confidence, working on their eye hand coordination, motor skills.’

ACEing autism is a five-week long program that’s offered in 10 states, including here in New Orleans. Find out more info on how to register by clicking here.

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