Meet Jacob Cohen and Haniel Peralta

Meet Jacob Cohen and Haniel Peralta, respectively a volunteer and participant from our Great Neck, NY program. Jacob, who is 15 years old, and Haniel, who is 6 years old have built an amazing bond even though Haniel is only speaks a few words.

Written by Jacob:

Hi, my name is Jacob Cohen and this is my third session with the ACEing Autism program. This time around, something was different. The six year old boy I worked with, Haniel, has made such an impact on me, just as much or even more, than I have impacted him. The relationship we’ve made is so incredible, even though he isn’t really verbal with me. The impact he’s made on me is everlasting and I had so much fun with him this session.

As a 15 year old, you don’t run into someone who can’t speak to you that much so it was definitely an amazing challenge to figure out how to relate to him and how to reach him.

Here is one story of how amazing our relationship has gotten. A few weeks ago, I was serving tennis balls for Haniel to hit over the net and I decided to switch with my partner so he can serve some. That didn’t really turn out well because he just stood there, grabbed a tennis ball, put it into my hands, and dragged me back to where I was serving before. It was almost like he was demanding for me to do it. All of this is incredible and there are just no words to describe how much this means to me and how much he’s impacted my everyday life. I learned so much from him every session and I hope I was able to leave an impact on him like he did to me.

I was never the most patient guy, I’m used to things being normal, but eventually I was able to understand and read the situation better, and then adapt. 

This has impacted me so much that I’m hoping to start something similar down the line but with soccer. I’ve also become more aware of the environment, how you can react to people, and I’m more capable of forming connections with people no matter how and who they are.

I look forward to volunteering for this incredible organization next session.

Written by Leonela Peralta, Haniel’s mother:

Hello, my name is Leonela Peralta, Haniel’s mother. Haniel is a very active child. He likes jump rope, jumping on the trampoline, doing pull ups so I like to keep him busy. I enrolled him in tennis classes for the first time at ACEing Autism and since the first day, he has shown a lot of interest. For instance, he follows instructions and he likes me to see him practice.

The team of volunteers makes Haniel feel comfortable since the first day, especially with Jacob. They have a good connection, and he had never built such a relationship before because he doesn’t like to be directed. I think he felt understood using few words and that made my son show affection from the first day. It is amazing how he follows the instructions and enjoys practicing.

ACEing Autism gave us the opportunity to be more interested in sports and gave my son a place to play where he felt comfortable, included, and with a team willing to help and who had good tools. My son is also more willing to engage in one-on-one play. 


We are looking forward to the next season. Thank you ACEing Autism for having such a wonderful program.

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