History

Established in 1997 by two mothers of children with autism and their developmental pediatrician, SARRC is now an internationally recognized nonprofit with a mission to advance research and provide a lifetime of support for individuals with autism and their families. As the state of Arizona’s largest nonprofit serving the autism community, SARRC conducts innovative research, provides evidence-based practices, disseminates effective training, and builds inclusive communities.

1997 

  • Southwest Autism Research Center (SARC) is founded

1998 

  • Open our first 1,800 square-foot facility at 10th Street and McDowell Road in Phoenix
  • Inaugural Community Breakfast is held

1999  

2000  

  • The first issue Outreach Magazine is published
  • The CDC estimates that 1 in 150 8-year-old children have ASD

2001 

  • SARC families participate in a historic study in collaboration with Libera Universita Campus BioMedico in Rome

2002  

  • SARC changes its name to Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)
  • SARRC introduces JumpStart , a program empowering parents with the skills and knowledge to help navigate their new journey
  • FRIEND (Fostering Relationships in Early Network Development) is implemented by SARRC in Arizona elementary schools to help students understand and accept differences among their peers
  • SARRC Grandparents Group is established to help educate, empower, and support grandparents of children with autism

2003 

  • SARRC and Translational Genomics Research Institute partner to conduct Arizona’s largest and most comprehensive molecular and genetics research done on autism
  • The Physician Outreach program launches and work begins to develop the Autism Spectrum Disorders Screening kit for pediatricians

2004 

  • The first capital campaign is launched and raises $7.5 million for a new building
  • SARRC partners with the international Autism Genetics Resource Exchange (AGRE), the largest private, open-access repository of clinical and genetic information dedicated to helping autism research

2005 

  • As a result of the 2004 capital campaign, SARRC’s Campus for Exceptional Children in Phoenix opens

2006 

  • The SARRC Community School opens its doors, a milestone to create a more inclusive community
  • Walk Now Arizona with Cure Autism Now launches and hosts the first walk boasting 3,500 participants
  • The CDC estimates that 1 in 110 8-year-old children have ASD

2007 

  • SARRC hires first national autism experts with doctoral degrees to expand and enhance services.
  • Arizona Autism Coalition is formed to improve the lives of individuals with ASD and their families by sharing resources and affecting autism systems reform through statewide collaboration and advocacy

2008 

  • SARRC supports the passing of Steven’s Law, requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for autism treatment
  • SARRC’s CommunityWorks® program is introduced to provide afterschool and weekend opportunities for teens with ASD and their typically developing peer mentors
  • GardenWorks® and CulinaryWorks® launch, marking SARRC’s first venture into social enterprise (now Beneficial Beans®)
  • First World Autism Awareness Day is recognized April 2
  • ThinkAsperger’s launches a screening questionnaire for parents, educators and medical professionals to aid in the identification of ASD

2009 

  • The Vocational & Life Skills Academy opens, allowing SARRC to expand its services for adolescents and adults
  • Employment Services program is introduced for teens and adults with autism

2010

  • SARRC launches its social enterprise program, Beneficial Beans®, to provide training and employment opportunities for adults with autism

2011 

  • “Combating Autism Reauthorization Act,” enacted in 2006, is reauthorized by President Barack Obama to ensure continual autism research, services, training and monitoring

2012

  • SARRC’s sister organization, First Place AZ, is founded
  • National statistics report that 1 in 68 children are affected by autism

2013 

  • The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) newly identifies autism as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) folding all subcategories of the condition into one umbrella diagnosis — ASD. Asperger's is no longer considered a separate condition

2014 

  • SARRC collaborates with First Place AZ and the Foundation for Senior Living to launch the First Place Transition Academy, operated by SARRC
  • SARRC’s CommunityWorks program is replicated in Canada
  • Combating Autism Reauthorization Act is renewed for another five years as the “Autism CARES Act”

2015 

  • SARRC, in partnership with Behavior Imaging and Georgia Tech, help launch Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment (NODA), a clinically tested service using a smartphone app and autism specialists to diagnose or rule out autism
  • SARRC’s Detecting Asperger’s Very Early (DAVE) screening questionnaire is published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology

2016 

  • SARRC’s second Community School in Tempe opens
  • SARRC named a “pocket of excellence” by John Donvan and Caren Zucker in their book, “In a Different Key” 
  • Phoenix named “the most autism-friendly city in the world” by “PBS NewsHour”

2017 

  • SARRC celebrates 20 years. 
  • March 3 was proclaimed “SARRC’s Social Enterprise Day” by the Office of the Governor of Arizona
  • SARRC introduces its first mobile app bringing the Social Challenges Screening Questionnaire (formerly the DAVE screening questionnaire) into hands of more parents, educations and providers

2018

  • The CDC reports 1 in 59 children have been identified as having autism in the U.S.

2019

  • SARRC unveils its new strategic plan to become a statewide organization by 2030
  • A SARRC-led study funded by the national institute of mental health lowers ASD diagnosis three years earlier than age reported by the CDC
  • Phoenix Suns all-star, Devin Booker, and Phoenix Suns Charities honored SARRC as one of the “Devin Booker Starting Five"

2020

2021

2022