SARRC is committed to building a supportive community for individuals with ASD. A core component of accomplishing this is creating an inclusive environment for people to live, work, learn and play. Inclusion is not an outcome; it is a process. It involves continuously learning and adapting to ensure that individuals with ASD, and everyone else, are not only accepted but also valued and appreciated for what they bring to the table. We asked a few members of our team how SARRC continues to promote a lifetime of inclusion through our programs, services and outreach.
It’s Monday at 8 a.m., which means that Lindsey Eaton, 24, is just beginning her workday. She’ll work until noon, after which she’ll take the light rail, a bus or an Uber to GateWay Community College (GWCC) for a few classes. Later, she’ll navigate her way home to the apartment she shares with a roommate at 29 Palms, where she’ll clean, check her budget, cook her dinner, relax, and talk to her family.
Thanks to a supportive community, over the last 20 years SARRC has been able to advance the understanding and treatment of autism. But what exactly did the autism landscape look like in 1997? We asked members of SARRC’s research team to explained. Here’s a glimpse of how far we’ve come.
What is the prevalence of autism among children in the United States?
The coffee kiosk at Phoenix’s City Hall is bustling, and Joanna, one of the sales associates, is busy. She currently works part-time, four days a week, making sandwiches, parfaits and popcorn; portioning foods; cleaning up; stocking merchandise; and much more.
There had been a lot to absorb at first—learning all the buttons and abbreviations of Starbucks drinks on the cash register, to use the iPad Square system, and how to brew tea and coffee.
In the last decade, efforts have been focused on meeting the needs of teens with autism as they transition into adulthood. In recent years, the first people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are now reaching old age and there are many more to follow.
Christopher Smith, Ph.D., SARRC’s vice president and research director, and Leslie Baxter, a clinical neuropsychologist at Barrow Neurological Institute, are conducting a study to understand the effects of aging and ASD so providers can better meet the needs of an aging population of individuals going forward.
When Emily R. Taylor of Emily R. Taylor, Attorney PLLC was facing a large-scale planning project and needed to hire someone to handle it, someone who could create databases, process files, scan items into their correct files and more, she knew just who to reach out to.
As an attorney who offers elder law, special needs and estate planning services, and a member of the Professional Advisory Council with Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), Taylor reached out to Fiona Falbo, who handles the Employment Partners program at SARRC.
Thanks to our friends at Sanderson Ford, SARRC has been a proud partner and charity recipient of their Operation Santa Claus event for 16 years. Throughout the 2017 holiday season, Sanderson Ford hosted numerous events around the Valley collecting thousands of food, toy and donations to support its participating charities raising more than $600,000 in donations and in-kind support.
Pearl Chang Esau, educator, advocate, policy expert and leading voice in support of excellent education for all students, and Gregory Bernosky, director of state regulation and compliance for Arizona Public Service (APS), have been elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC).
Kiri and Jim Rubin were confused and overwhelmed that their young son, Dean, was non-responsive to his name and surroundings, and would occasionally cause harm to himself. He would refuse to eat at times and was terrified of water.
Out of desperation Kiri would stand behind him and would exclaim his name, ‘Dean, Dean, Dean’ and he wouldn’t respond.
“I sort of grew cold with fear that something was off,” says Kiri.
One evening in early 2017, the Higgins family ordered Chinese food for dinner. As Cherie, the mom, opened her fortune cookie, she saw the message, “You will soon be traveling southward and learn great things.”
It was a sign, she thought.
“I remember telling my husband it meant that we were going to get into the SARRC program,” she recalls.