Our mission is to make the sport of tennis available to children with autism spectrum disorders as a means to enhance health, fitness, hand-eye coordination, motor development and to improve their social skills.
And, of course, to make sure kids have fun in the process!
ACEing Autism was founded in the summer of 2008 by Richard Spurling & Dr. Shafali Jeste in Boston, MA. as a family run organization with the invaluable efforts of its volunteers & supporters. We launched our first program at The Longfellow Club, Wayland (MA) with 15 children. In the spring of 2009 we added a second location, The Weymouth Club in Weymouth (MA). Richard quickly realized that he could greatly enhance the lives of children and families with autism through tennis, and he made a commitment to dedicate his career to the development and expansion of ACEing Autism.
In early 2010, Shafali was recruited to the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment, a center that has been a leader in the field of autism research for decades. Shafali and Richard relocated to Los Angeles in 2010, and since then Richard has focused on program development and expansion.. ACEing Autism now has sites in Los Angeles, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Diego, New Orleans, Nashville, and Indianapolis. The expansion continues, as we are just beginning to meet the needs of the thousands of children with autism across the country.
Our success lies in our commitment to tailoring the program to the needs of each individual child with autism. In 2013 Richard was honored with the USPTR’s Humanitarian of Year Award for his work building this program and in August 2014 ACEing Autism was given the USTA’s Community Service Award.
ACEing Autism has been featured on the Tennis Channel. In April 2014 Head Penn became an offical equipment supplier, providing all tennis equipment for our children to use during their sessions.
We currently service more than 500 children with autism across 30 locations nationwide. We are passionate about our mission to connect kids through tennis, and we look forward to meeting volunteers, families and children on our courts across the country as we continue to grow.
There are plenty of ways that you can be involved with us. If you wish to volunteer at one of our programs near you or if you are interested in starting your own program, please contact us through our contact. If you are interested in becoming one of our brand partners we would love to hear from you too! Finally, you can all make a difference and help us fund more programs, to ultimately help more children with autism spectrum disorder by making a donation at the bottom of the page. Thank you!
Shafali earned her BA in philosophy at Yale and then earned her MD from Harvard Medical School. Her interest in child behaviour led her to pursue a career in behavioural child neurology, with a focus on developmental disorders such as autism. Her research, funded by NIH, through UCLA’s Center for Autism Research and Treatment is focused on defining brain and behavioral markers that can help us to design and implement targeted treatments for children with autism, particularly those with significant intellectual disability.
In her clinical practice Dr. Jeste diagnosis and treats children with neurodevelopment disorders, with focus on young children with autism. Shafali dedicates her life to the research and the further understanding of the autism spectrum.
Richard attended Florida Atlantic University where he played Division I tennis and achieved his degree in International Business. Following university, Richard went on to teach tennis while maintaining his own pro status on the tour, including managing various high profile tennis programs in Florida, Boston and Cape Cod.
Richard earned his MBA in 2008 from Babson College where he focused on entrepreneurship. Richard lives in Los Angeles with his wife Shafali Jeste and their two children Nischal and Kiran.
Alex comes from London UK, where he previously held senior positions within agencies and top ten UK's best companies such as Freud Communications, Hilton Hotels, and London's 2012 Olympic Games.
Alex has over 15 years experience in Marketing Communications, talent & event management on a global level, including working for a member of the British Royal Family before he immigrated to the US in 2013.