In 1997, SARRC was founded by two mothers and their developmental pediatrician. Today, we’re internationally recognized for our autism research, education, evidence-based treatment and community outreach.


  • Southwest Autism Research Center (SARC) is founded.


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



  • The first issue Outreach Magazine is published.  
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 150 8-year-old children have ASD.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • As a result of the 2004 capital campaign, SARRC’s Campus for Exceptional Children in Phoenix opens. 
  • Bob Wright, a top executive, and his wife, Suzanne, form Autism Speaks, now the world’s largest autism advocacy group.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 held on April 2.
  • ThinkAsperger’s launches a screening questionnaire for parents, educators and medical professionals to aid in the identification of ASD.


  • 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.  


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


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


  • The first Beneficial Beans Café opens inside the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. 
  • SARRC’s sister organization, First Place, is founded. 
  • National statistics report that 1 in 68 children are affected by autism.


  • 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. 


  • SARRC collaborates with First Place 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.”


  • 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.


  • 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.”


  • SARRC celebrates 20 years. 
  • The second Beneficial Beans Café at the Phoenix Burton Barr Central Library opens. 
  • March 3 proclaimed “SARRC’s Social Enterprise Day” by the Office of the Governor of Arizona.


  • The CDC reports 1 in 59 children have been identified as having autism in the U.S., which represents a 15 percent increase from previous estimates. 


  • 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

Thank you to our supportive community that has championed our mission every step of the way. Help SARRC continue its mission of advancing research and providing a lifetime of support for individuals with autism and their families by making a tax-deductible gift today.