Meet Tracy Gibson, volunteer for our ACEing Autism Pittsburgh program. “Autism isn’t one size fits all diagnosis and kids with autism are all different, so you have to work with them on a case by case basis,” the Marketing and Communications professional expressed right away as she talks about her experience with ACEing Autism.
While no child with autism is the same, everyday is different too but Tracy has found that “consistency is key and you can grow a lot of relationships that way. How much consistency affects these kids has been eye opening for me. I always want to be there for them and continue to grow with them”
The former college tennis player, who was excited to learn more about autism, credits her work with ACEing Autism for learning how to communicate with her body language more. “Some kids are nonverbal or only speak a word or two, so it challenges me to think about how to best use my words and my body language,” the Pittsburgh lifer as she describes herself, explained.
Tracy, who started playing tennis around 10 years old, was really excited to start volunteering with ACEing Autism as she adores tennis and loves to teach as well. “There were many resources available that helped prepare me for my first few days, so I definitely felt more comfortable. But it’s by no means a quick learn and it’s not easy. It can get hard sometimes,” she admits. “But it’s amazing and rewarding and it’s absolutely worth it.”
The John Carroll University alumni is no stranger to volunteering. She was in a church youth group growing up that went to the Appalachian Mountains and built houses for the less fortunate. Before she started working with PPG this past March as a Senior Communications Specialist, Tracy worked at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. There, she heard about ACEing Autism through a colleague who had a child in the program.
“I didn’t have much experience with autism so I contacted Sara Longo back in 2019 and I’ve been volunteering ever since,” she said cheerfully. I’ve realized that autism is something that a lot of people don’t know a lot about, so I was looking forward to educating myself about it so I can help educate others.”
Thank you Tracy for everything you’ve done for our participants and sharing your story! She already looks forward to the next session and can’t wait to reunite with all the players.