School in 2020 looks different for students across the nation. While a new school year is always about change—new teachers, new classrooms, new friends—2020 brings the uncertainty of virtual or in-person learning (or a combination of both), masks, social distancing, handwashing, and more.
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center is pleased to announce the election of Julie Alpert to its board of directors.
By Mathilde Rispoli
I remember the first time I walked into SARRC, I was in the waiting room, waiting with my leg bouncing up and down. I was nervously thinking about what my first volunteer session as a Peer Mentor in the CommunityWorks program would be like. My only experience with autism was through stories my mom had told me about her time as a teacher in a self-contained classroom.
Marisa Carroll is a Senior Behavior Therapist at Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). She has been with SARRC for three years working within the Community School, an inclusive preschool program that provides high-quality early childhood education and ABA-based programming for children with autism and their typically developing peers.
Recently, a SARRC clinical supervisor posted this picture to her Instagram. Of all the videos, images, and memes I’ve seen since we were first hit with COVID-19, this one is by far my favorite.
Many people with autism struggle immensely with even the smallest disruptions in their routines. Parents often learn the hard way to take the very same route to school each day, or that their child will eat only one brand of chicken nuggets, or that the 43 stuffed animals on their child’s bed must be put in the exact same place every day.
By Christopher J. Smith, Ph.D., SARRC vice president & research director
Background: In 2019, autism researchers from the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia called for the term “high-functioning autism” to be
abandoned because of the misleading and potentially harmful expectations it creates around the abilities of children on the autism spectrum.
What is “functioning,” anyway?
The omnipresent accessibility of the internet is easier now, more than ever, to find what you need with the click of a button. And while the availability of information and resources is extremely valuable, SARRC recognizes there are significant safety risks for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as they navigate a sprawling online community.
“We have learned more and more of the risks associated with online activity and individuals with ASD, who may be especially vulnerable to those risks,” says Paige Raetz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of Teen and Adult Services at SARRC.
There’s no blood test or MRI or CT scan. No single telltale biomarker. No biopsy. The process of diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more complex than that, requiring observation, interviews and testing to round out an assessment. These procedures can take a great deal of time for families once in the diagnostic center.
Michele Thorne dove in headfirst to understand the nuances of autism after her son, Jackson, was diagnosed just after his third birthday. The signs were obvious — regression in speech, repetitive behavior, and extreme difficulty in interacting with others.
SARRC's Annual Community Breakfast was given a makeover for 2020 allowing nearly 1,200 guests to attend the 22nd annual event virtually.
The event, which was themed “Here for You,” recognized the ongoing efforts SARRC has been making to ensure that the necessary support continues for clients and families through the coronavirus pandemic. The 25-minute virtual event, which debuted on Thursday, May 21, featured personal stories from families, clients, and community leaders who shared their experiences from home.