We had the good fortune of connecting with Richard Spurling and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Richard, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
There are very few recreational programs that cater to children with autism. There exists a desperate need for play-based programs for the growing number of children with autism.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am most proud of founding a nonprofit organization that has been providing a recreational tennis program for children with autism since 2008 – today we reach about 1200 participants annually at 115 program locations in 33 states. Definitely not easy starting a nonprofit! Most of the challenges we face relate to being pioneers in the autism space – there have been challenges with funding; challenges during covid; challenges with scaling. challenges with determining which program data to collect. Lessons learned: 1. never underestimate what a child with autism is capable of doing 2. providing one hour of tennis per week can have an everlasting impact on the entire family 3. providing a recreational opportunity for a child with autism has a profound impact on their development I want the world to know that providing a tennis program for children with autism was simply a great idea. To make it a reality has taken thousands of volunteers willing to give back; an amazing committed board; and an incredibly dedicated staff who cares about the mission!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would probably take them for some great dinners: Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills, Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, Elephante in Santa Monica and Katsuya in Brentwood. Probably include a bike ride through Venice and Santa Monica. Drive through Beverly Hills and up on Mulholland. Drive down PCH to Malibu. Might find a concert or stand up comedy in West Hollywood.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shafali Jeste MD

Website: www.aceingautism.org

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Image Credits
Photos by ACEing Autism

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