STEPHANIE’S DAY IS COMING UP THIS SATURDAY. IT’S A HUGE RESOURCE FAIR FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY AUTISM AND OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS. KCAL9 AND CBS TO OUR HOSTING “STEPHANIE’S DAY” RIGHT HERE ON THE CBS STUDIO LOT IN STUDIO CITY CITY. ONE GROUP IS HELPING KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ONE SWING AT A TIME. IT’S CALLED “ACEING AUTISM”. THEY ARE REACHING KIDS THROUGH TENNIS. JOINING ME NOW THE FOUNDER AND CEO RICHARD SPURLING AND LAUREN CONNOR WHOSE CHILDREN ARE IN THE PROGRAM. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH MATCHING TENNIS WITH KIDS IN THE PROGRAM? EARLY ON IN MY WIFE’S CAREER, SHE REALIZED THERE IS A BIG NEED FOR RECREATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM. WE REALIZE THERE WAS A BIG PROBLEM THAT NEEDED TO BE SOLVED. MY BACK ON HIS TENNIS WE DESIGNED A PROGRAM CURRICULUM FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM. WHY IS TENNIS A GOOD MATCH? I THINK IT’S A GOOD MATCH BECAUSE YOU NEED TO PEOPLE OR FOR PEOPLE TO PLAY TENNIS. A BIG PART OF OUR PROGRAM IS A SOCIAL ASPECT. WERE TRYING TO MAKE SOCIAL GAMES FOR THESE KIDS. IF YOU’RE TEACHING THEM TENNIS SKILLS AND THEY CAN PLAY WITH THE OTHER, THEY CAN MAKE FRIENDS THAT WAY. JUAN: WERE WATCHING SOME OF THAT VIDEO RIGHT NOW. YOU SEE KIDS INTERACTING WITH COACHES AND OTHER KIDS. LAUREN HOW HAS THIS PROGRAM HELPED YOUR KIDS IN EVERYDAY LIFE? MY OLDER SON IS ON THE SPECTRUM AND HE REALLY BENEFITS FROM THE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT THAT RICHARD TALKED ABOUT. HE’S REALLY EXCITED TO GO AND HE HAS MADE FRIENDS. HE’S ENGAGED WITH THE VOLUNTEERS AND THE STAFF. FOR HIM, IT HAS REALLY HELPED HIM MAKE FRIENDS AND LEARN HOW TO ASK SOMEONE TO PLAY WITH HIM. JUAN: HOWLED AS HE? HE’S ALMOST EIGHT. JUAN: HAVE YOU SEEN A LOT OF CHANGES IN THE 8-YEAR-OLD? YES, WHEN WE STARTED WE WERE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO GET SPORTS AND ATHLETICISM IN OUR SCHEDULE. MOST PROGRAMS REQUIRE SOCIAL SKILLS THAT AT THE TIME HE WAS LACKING SO WE REALLY SEE A GREAT TIME AND HE’S HAVING A BALL. JUAN: WE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT THE KIDS BUT HOW DOES THIS HELP THE PARENTS AND THE FAMILY? THIS IS A GREAT TIME THAT WE CAN GO EVERY SATURDAY MORNING AND THE PARENTS ARE ALL OUT THERE REALLY SUPPORTING EACH OTHER. I TEND TO FIND THAT I’M LEARNING FROM THE OTHER PARENTS AS WELL AS TEACHING THE OTHER PARENTS ABOUT SOME RESOURCES THAT I HAVE AND HOW THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN USEFUL FOR US. JUAN: ONE “STEPHANIE’S DAY” FIRST STARTED, PEOPLE SAID MY GOODNESS, I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WERE SO MANY RESOURCES. DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THAT SITUATION AT ONE POINT, NOT KNOWING WHERE TO TURN? YES, WHEN YOU GET THE DIAGNOSIS, YOU ENTER A NEW WORLD. I FOUND A HANDFUL OF PARENTS AND THEY WERE THERE TO HELP US FIND THE NEXT STEP. JUAN: HOW DO PEOPLE FIND THIS PROGRAM? OUR WEBSITE IS ACING AUTISM.ORG. YOU MENTIONED THE PARENT CONNECTION. IT’S BEEN A WONDERFUL BENEFIT, THE PARENT CONNECTION THROUGH THE PROGRAM AND IT’S BEEN WONDERFUL FOR US TO SEE THEM MAKE CONNECTIONS LIKE THAT. RUN FACEBOOK AND TWITTER AND ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA. JUAN: SO IF YOU’RE COMING DOWN TO “STEPHANIE’S DAY”, WE SHOULD LET YOU KNOW YOU’RE SETTING UP THE TENNIS COURT SO KIDS CAN SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE. RIGHT, WE WILL HAVE A MINI NET OUT THERE. WE HAVE LOW-PRESSURE BALLS AND IT WILL BE VERY ACTIVE. THE GREAT THING ABOUT OUR PROGRAM IS THAT WE CAN CATER IT TO THE LEVEL OF THE CHILD TO MAKE SURE THEY HAVE SUCCESS ON THE TENNIS COURT. JUAN: A LOT OF KIDS, DEPENDING ON WHERE THEY ARE ON THE SPECTRUM, MAYBE, MAYBE THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE LOUD NOISES OR A LOT GOING AROUND THEM. YOU CAN TAILOR THE PROGRAM? YES WE HAVE TO VOLUNTEERS PER CHILD TO ENSURE THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE SUCCESS. IF THEY’RE STRUGGLING TO HIT A MOVING BALL THAT WE WILL HELP THEM. JUAN: IT SOUNDS LIKE THESE KIDS REALLY DO BLOSSOM UNDER THIS PROGRAM. JUAN: I HAVE SO MUCH FUN WORKING WITH CHILDREN. THEY INSPIRE ME EVERY WEEK WHEN WE RUN PROGRAMS, BUT SEEING WHAT IT’S BECOME HAS BECOME EXTREMELY REWARDING. JUAN: HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE. WERE UP TO 35 NATIONWIDE IN IN EVERY PROGRAM WE HAVE 15 – 20 KIDS. JUAN: YOU’VE GONE NATIONWIDE. YES, VERY QUICKLY. JUAN: WAS YOUR SON AND OTHER SPORTS OR IS THIS THE FIRST TIME? , THIS IS THE FIRST THING. UP TO NOW IT’S THE ONLY THING WE BEEN DOING, INTERESTINGLY AFTER DOING IT FOR A FEW YEARS, HE SAID I AM READY FOR A TEAM NOW. HE IS REALLY EXCITED TO TAKE THE SKILLS, THE ATHLETIC SKILLS AS WELL AS THE SOCIAL SKILLS AND APPLY THEM. JUAN: THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. A REMINDER THAT STEPHANIE’S DAY DAY IS SATURDAY AND IT’S A RESOURCE FAIR FOR PARENTS

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Dennis Veasley

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