Meet Sam Sostrom

Meet Sam Sostrom, an 18 year old athlete from our Phoenix, AZ program. Sam started the program 4 years ago and has never looked back since. “We’ve gone as many times as we could,” his mother Carolyn, said laughing. “It was great to see that he wanted to play more and so we connected with a volunteer outside of ACEing Autism to play and it’s great to see he is more physical too.”

Sam has tried tennis group lessons, soccer, “but it never really clicked,” she remembered. “And then when we found ACEing Autism, he was willing to try and really liked it. It’s good exercise for him.”

Sam, who is in the process of earning a culinary certificate from the Scottsdale Community College, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 11. “His main challenge is to speak up in a social situation if he needs something,” she explained. “He might fade in the background which is not bad, but in a group like this, everyone makes sure he is included. The volunteers are awesome, the local High School tennis teams, the peers that are working with the kids are amazing!”

The college student, who aspires to work in a restaurant, has been able to connect with people in the program, which is not something that’s been easy for him. “The leadership, volunteers have been wonderful, having an activity that your child keeps asking about is wonderful,” she joyfully said. “Tennis has become more of his preferred activity thanks to ACEing Autism and it’s going pretty well.”

Sam, who also loves video games like Minecraft, is looking forward to figuring out what’s next once he finishes his certificate program in May. “He will either go for his associate degree or maybe working,” his mother jokes.

As we finished our discussion, Carolyn mentions how this program has also been great for parents. “I have connected with other parents, it’s been nice to meet other parents who are in the same boat, and we became friends, it’s created a sense of community.”

Congratulations to Sam on his progress and we can’t wait to see what’s next for him on and off the court!

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