Meet Zoey McNulty, a 9 year old tennis player from our Santa Barbara, CA program. “She was so excited to go and sad to leave and we’ve never had that before,” Jolie, her mother, said about ACEing Autism.
Zoey’s journey hasn’t been an easy one starting with getting her diagnosis. When she wasn’t hitting her milestones at 18 months old, Jolie talked to other moms to figure out if her situation was similar to theirs. But when she went to the doctors, they wanted to wait until the next appointment and this went on until she was 4 years old. Finally, they got her evaluated.”It took a year and half to get the first evaluation, and then 6 months later to get the full diagnosis. She was 6 years old,” the mother of two remarked.
“It’s scary to know your kid is different and wondering what the future is going to be like,” Jolie admitted. “And you don’t know what they’re going to need and for how long but once you have the diagnosis, you can move forward and figure out the next steps.”
For Zoey, she was already in speech and occupational therapy due to her delays, but once she got the diagnosis, she was able to focus more on her social challenges. “Once you get the diagnosis, you qualify for more services. She needs help with social situations, how to talk to people and make friends for instance.”
To work on that, she tried a lot of different sports (cheerleading, soccer, tee ball, gymnastic) and everytime you could tell she was uncomfortable. “It was a crappy experience for both, she couldn’t be herself.”
When she found ACEing Autism, it was great for her because it wasn’t a team sport, there weren’t too many kids at once and it wasn’t stressful. “Even during her very first class, she was comfortable quickly. I wasn’t worried before her first day because people knew she had autism. And during the session, it was so great because she could be herself.”
When it comes to her family time and social life, Zoey has improved tremendously. She can now have conversations, make friends, and approach people. “She was invited to a kid’ birthday party which was really exciting,” Jolie said excitedly.
She is able to play pretty well with her brother Kaisen as well, who is 3 years old. “Because of her delays, they get along with each other, he is really protective of her already.”
Join us in congratulating Zoey for achieving a lot of milestones and continuing to improve on and off the court. We also want to thank Jolie for sharing her family’s journey with us.