Meet Yacob, a 13 year old athlete who attends our Danville, CA program. Yacob started at our Burlingame location almost 2 years ago, and has made remarkable progress socially and tennistically since.
“He was just running around at the beginning, but now he follows every direction,” Yacob’s mom explained. “He has learned turn-taking and even takes the initiative sometimes,” she proudly continued.
When the middle school student first came to ACEing Autism in the Spring of 2022, Yacob had to be chased around the court most of the time and only did a few drills and games throughout the clinics. But little by little, he got more interested in tennis, and started to engage more with the volunteers and the clinic in general. “It’s a joy to see him like that,” Yacob’s mom cheerfully said. “He is making connections now, he even knows some of the volunteers’ names so you can tell he is responding. In the past two weeks, they showed him how to serve and sometimes they were telling him to hit a little softer and he did!”
As we looked back at Yacob’s growth, the mother of two shared that she knew early on that her son would need more help. “He was under a year old when I knew he would need special attention. He did ABA when he was younger but he only goes for maintenance now,” the always positive mother said. “He does speech therapy and occupational therapy at school, and combined with sports, it has helped Yacob be calm and feel more understood.”
The student at Pleasanton Middle School is very active and playing tennis, along with swimming and doing cross country at school, has helped him be more focused at home. But tennis is the sport he takes the most seriously. “He is interested to the point where he looks on YouTube for tennis videos,” she laughed. “He is a very visual person so the more he sees, the more he registers. Talking to him, showing him how the sport is played helps him understand.”
As our interview came to a close, Yacob’s mom reiterated how much he enjoys tennis and how much of a blessing this has been. “I was ready to keep driving from Pleasanton to Burlingame but now we moved to a closer location and as long as they have it, we’ll come,” she joyfully expressed.