NORTH HAVEN – The session begins with an exercise in hand-eye coordination, as students bounce a ball before working their feet with a shuffle towards the net and back.
“Then we move onto ball control with our racquets,” says 17 year old volunteer Chandler Morris.
This is ACEing Autism.
“We’re part of a national organization with more than 130 sites across the nation,” says Coach Bob Migliorini.
The sites include North Haven and Farmington, bringing the sport of tennis to those on the spectrum.
Dior Hobson has been landing volleys here since 2018.
“What I really love about this program is meeting new people and learning new skills,” he says.
“We’ve had kids in our program go on to play high school tennis, actually,” says Migliorini who is also a high school tennis coach, working with the North Haven High School girls’ tennis team.
Many of those players, like Chandler, act as typical peers on these courts.
It’s a tennis lesson for everyone.
“I think I’ve just gotten to see people grow and show their unique selves and collaborate with others,” says Morris.
In addition to helping with motor skills, this program also provides valuable social interaction.
Aiden Jeng’s dad sees his son’s joy and enthusiasm.
“Just being involved in the community, he’s made great friends here,” says Jay Jeng.
“With children on the autism spectrum, it’s good to use visual type aids in teaching and communication,” says Migliorini who uses a visual schedule to help with transitions.
Every Saturday morning, the program serves-up smiles…for a definitive win.
“That’s extremely gratifying for me to see the children progress and improve and more importantly really enjoy the program,” says Migliorini.
ACEing Autism is hoping to bring more programs to Connecticut.
The North Haven spring session is about to start.
Click here for more information.