Children with autism can learn to play tennis in classes beginning Saturday at the Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road in Fox Chapel.

The classes are sponsored by ACEing Autism, a national group founded in 2008. They’ll be taught by regional program director Sara Longo, 25. She’s been working with children with autism at the Watson Institute in Sewickley since she was a student at Allegheny College, from which she graduated in 2011. She’s been playing tennis since middle school.

ACEing autism has 30 programs in 10 states, but this will be the first in Pittsburgh.

“Making the sport of tennis available to children with autism is close to my heart,” Ms. Longo said. “I’m excited to get started.”

She will be assisted by 15 volunteers. Each child will be helped by one or two volunteers, depending on his or her needs. All equipment will be provided.

“Our courses improve motor function, hand-eye coordination, social skills and overall fitness,” said Alex Huggan, vice president of communications at ACEing Autism’s national headquarters in Los Angeles.

The first session, 9:30-10:20 a.m., will be for children under 10. The second, 10:30-11:20 a.m., will be for children 11 to 20.

The cost of the nine-week program is $135, but low-income families can obtain discounts. For more information, or to book a place for your child, call Ms. Longo at 412-965-9301 or write to For help with the fee, contact ACEing Autism at 1-617-901-7153.

Jack Kelly: or 412-263-1476. Read full article click here