Not too long ago, I experienced my first clinic with Aceing Autism when I went to the Newport Beach, CA program. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there as it was unlike anything I experienced before. Throughout my tennis career I have attended many tennis clinics, but never one that was for autistic children. Until that day, I never thought about having a tennis clinic for kids on the spectrum, but I soon learned how important they are. Although children may have autism, they should still have the opportunity to play tennis and be active.
My husband accompanied me to the event as well and he was blown away. Two of his uncles have autism so he has more experience than me in this area. He told me that his uncles never had tennis classes or exposure to social events, but he wishes they had. Not being exposed to it as early as him, I didn’t think about tennis for people who might be autistic. Teenagers from the local high school volunteered during the clinics and I enjoyed seeing that because it was a great learning opportunity for them as well. My husband appreciated that young kids were willing to donate their free time because his uncles didn’t have that same opportunity, but he was happy to see the next generation did.
During my experience, I learned it is important for all kids to play sports and be active, even those with autism, and that they are more than capable of playing. It was great to see the kids supporting each other and playing with peers who have similar needs as them. As an adult, I’ve come to learn how important human interaction is, especially for kids on the spectrum, and programs like Aceing Autism allow kids to have that while also exercising and having fun! The adults working the program were well experienced and brought great energy, making it an enjoyable and welcoming environment overall.
It was a joy for me to see so many kids at the ACEing Autism clinic enjoying playing tennis. Attending this program made me realize that we need to continue having clinics such as this one because, although we might not know someone who is affected by autism, it doesn’t mean we should forget about autistic individuals. Kids with autism should still have access to the same programs as everyone else and this is a beautiful way to grow our sport, by truly including everyone.