Q&A with Stacy Aguirre, Program Director at Houston Forest Club, TX:

How did you get into tennis?

I played a little bit as a kid and after my first year of HS, my mom put me in a tennis camp with a friend of hers as a coach during the summer and fell in love with it. Then, I got a scholarship at University Louisiana Monroe but ended up having 2 surgeries

What did you do after?

I was a stay at home mom for 7 years, then I taught preschool for 5 years and taught tennis on the weekends. Back in January 2020, this opportunity at The Forrest Club came up. I started with 2 hours a week and 8 kids in the camps and it turned into 40 kids. I now have around 100 kids and I’m full time now

How did you hear about ACEing Autism?

A little girl named Taylor who was in my camp, I realized her mom was staying around the club and when I talked to her I figured out that her son Gram was on the spectrum. He started the camp and after school as well and had a friend who helped when Gram is there. But I wanted to find a place where he could just be Gram and when I looked online I found ACEing Autism. I got in touch with the team and we started last November. I’m so glad I got to do something

What made you want to start a program?

It’s so nice to find something that I’m passionate about and that I could make it happen. I’m a single mom of three so I sometimes feel guilty that I couldn’t give more but this is something that I could do. This is my favorite time of the week and fulfilling

How were the first couple of sessions?

The first session was really fun and exciting, Richard came and led us through the clinic. The second week I was nervous leading the class, I was nervous that I wasn’t doing it right. My co-program director is amazing and she knows even more than me since her mom works with kids with disabilities and she has helped her before.

Have you seen any improvements since you started?

We have a couple of kids in our class this session that were said to be nonverbal and they now say a few words, which is amazing! I am really blown away by the older kids; I didn’t know what to expect and most of them are rallying, learning grips, forehands. I am so surprised at how quickly they are picking up the skills. It is so exciting.

Did anything surprise you when you started ACEing Autism?

I took workshops about special needs children through teaching so I knew a little bit but what really surprised me were the parents: they were so nervous and watching them be surprised by something their child could do when they didn’t think they could was amazing. It never occurred to me that years down the line the parents would still be adjusting. I’m amazed to see the impact we’ve had on parents.