Meet Colby Ostrowsky, a 9-year-old athlete from our Wayland, MA program, who gets very excited at the sight of her tennis club, the LongFellow Tennis & Health Club.
“She loves volleys and loves to hang out with other kids. She is also very proud of her medal!” her grandmother Jane Goldman, shared amused.
A part of the ACEing Autism Wayland program for the past year, Colby has always been very athletic and coordinated, but has struggled with attention and following directions. “She could do the drills, but she had to pay attention. It was a struggle to stay on the court, so I had to close the door otherwise she would try to go,” she said smiling. “She is much more focused now and I am so very proud of her for staying the whole hour”.
As Jane continued to talk about Colby’s experience, she also shared that even though she is nonverbal, “she is very vocal,” she laughed. “She likes being with the other kids, she laughs during the clinic, so she is happy. Even though she doesn’t speak, she still communicates in her own way.” She continued by explaining that she really likes her volunteer, Alex last year, “but she bonded specifically with Jessica, she loves helping her pick up balls.”
In addition to seeing her attention improve, she likes being a part of the ACEing Autism group, her grandmother mentioned. “A lot of times, these children feel like they are not part of anything and this makes them feel part of a group. It’s wonderful to have a program that instills confidence and makes them feel special. The coaches make them feel important, give them their undivided attention, and as a result make the program a success.”
As we talked about successes, Jane remembered that Colby is obsessed with this ipad that has Curious George on it. “It’s her security blanket and at first it was a bit of a challenge because she would take it on the court, but not so much anymore,” she proudly said.
It is also worth mentioning that her uncle Colby volunteered for the first ever ACEing Autism program in 2008 where Colby goes at the LongFellow Tennis & Health Club. “He continued during his time at Brandeis University, and now he volunteers in Washington DC. He is actually the one who recommended it for Colby,” Jane recalled. “The first time she went, she was pulling us toward the pool as she thought that’s where she was going because she takes swimming lessons there as well. Now, she goes to a different place for swimming so she doesn’t get confused,” she chuckled.
As we wrap up the interview, Jane confesses that her grandmother, her father, Colby and her were all captains of their tennis team. “We’re thrilled because we all play tennis so it’s great that she is being exposed to it. It’s an activity we can all do together.”
As our conversation ended, Jane wanted to leave us with these last words as to why this program means so much to her and her family. “It’s the structure, we know it’s there on Sunday and she is excited, it means a lot to us to have an activity like that.”