Love Serving Autism
Victoria Chiesa | January 24, 2020
A community tennis association that's thrived in Florida in recent years is set to expand to other parts of the country in 2020.
Founded by licensed speech-language pathologist and USPTA-certified professional Lisa Pugliese, Love Serving Autism has spent the last three years bringing tennis to children and adults with autism spectrum disorders through specially designed programming.
Pugliese, a former collegiate tennis player at Duke University and the University of Florida, spent six years as the program director for a national non-profit for autism, but decided to bring together her two areas of expertise to give back to the community.
The nonprofit opened its first tennis program at the Palm Beach School for Autism, where Pugliese works, in 2017 with 40 students, and currently provides therapeutic tennis instruction for over 200 children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and developmental challenges in the state.ADVERTISEMENT
The program, designed to appeal to how individuals with autism can be visual learners, stimulates the participants in various ways, including fine and gross motor skills, visual and auditory processing skills, and social and language skills.
The hope is that participants can then apply their skills off the court, including at school, in the workplace, with friends and at home.
Serving several communities in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Clearwater, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Plantation, Sunrise, Wellington and West Palm Beach, Love Serving Autism has plans to expand to three more states—New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts—this year.
The organization already made its way onto the national stage last summer, as two dozen kids from the program were invited to last summer's US Open to take part in an on-court tennis demonstration in partnership with Net Generation, the USTA's youth tennis brand.
In addition, 15-year-old member Jack Garchik of Highland Beach, Fla., was one of two adaptive athletes selected to be a part of the inaugural Net Generation Aces program, which honors athletes between the ages of 13 and 17 who are making a positive difference in their local communities.
To learn more about Love Serving Autism, visit their website.