April is Autism Acceptance Month, an observance to highlight the increasing number of individuals on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the impacts on families. The observance was created by and for the autistic community to change the conversation around autism, and to help spread awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change. April 2 is World Autism Day, a time when programs like Southern California-based ACEing Autism and Serving Advantage are in the spotlight and being recognized.
ACEing Autism is a non-profit organization founded in the summer of 2007 by Richard Spurling and Dr. Shafali Jeste in Boston, Massachusetts. As a family-run organization, ACEing Autism works with volunteers and supporters to help fulfill its mission of supporting children with autism through affordable tennis programming. The efforts brought forth by ACEing Autism help more than 500 children with autism in over 80 locations nationwide grow and develop as players, and build social skills and connections as individuals.
ACEing Autism has multiple locations in Southern California, including Burbank, Carlsbad, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara.
Throughout the month of April, the program will be hosting Facebook and Instagram lives with families, volunteers, and medical experts. Join them in talking about inclusion in the workplace, sports, and life! View the calendar of events here.
Serving Advantage is another Southern California adaptive sports program that makes tennis accessible to children with developmental disabilities, while allowing high school tennis players to coach and interact with the kids, no matter their ability.
Growing up with an autistic brother, Gabriel Eusebio always understood the disparities people with intellectual disabilities face as they navigate their daily lives, along with the challenges of finding inclusive programs for them to participate in. For Eusebio, it was difficult to find adaptive group tennis lessons for his brother, so in 2020 he enlisted two other local teenagers to create Serving Advantage. What started as a thoughtful effort to bridge the gap between two brothers, has now flourished into a support system that creates tennis experiences for developmentally-challenged youngsters in Orange County. Eusebio was honored last summer at the ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards for his efforts with Serving Advantage, and earned grant funding from the SCTA Foundation.
With over 50 student athletes and almost 75 middle school and high school volunteers, the program advocates for equality and inclusion for its students and their families. “April is a month that is we hold close to our hearts because it provides an opportunity for the world to take action towards diversity and inclusion for the autism community,” said Wendi Eusebio, mother of Jacob Eusebio.