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International Autism Collaboration Links Sister Cities In Advancing Research And Resources



Denise D. Resnik
Nick Quan
Denise Resnik & Associates
(602) 956-8834


A new international collaboration between two charitable organizations in Phoenix and Calgary, Canada, is bringing new resources to bear for individuals and families living with autism.

Phoenix-based Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and Calgary-based Sinneave Family Foundation have joined in an alliance that will advance research and enhance support for children and adults with autism throughout the U.S. and Canada. One in 110 children in the U.S. and Canada are affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

This collaboration is an important first step that is creating more support for individuals living with autism, said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. We're honored that the Sinneave Family Foundation selected SARRC to help expand resources within their communities to meet the needs of its citizens and at the same time enable SARRC to serve more local families. The alliance also brings a new dimension to our existing Sister City relationship with Calgary.

In addition to the growing incidence of ASDs among toddlers, more than 500,000 children with ASDs will enter adulthood within the next 15 years in the U.S. With this rising population and reduced government resources, healthcare providers, therapists and nonprofits are challenged to meet the unique medical and therapeutic support requirements for individuals with autism and their families.

This opportunity to replicate SARRC's programs and help more families while co-developing new ones is a dream come true, said SARRC co-founder Denise D. Resnik. Through Sinneave, we have found a partner who shares our values, commitment and DNA. We also are continuing our effort to build a more sustainable organization that will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families in Arizona.

Clearly there's an increasing gap between skyrocketing autism rates and the availability of services, said Dr. Margaret Clarke, M.D., executive director of Sinneave. Our alliance with SARRC allows us to benefit immediately from their many years of experience and considerable expertise in our ongoing effort to expand and increase access to resources, build capacity through education and training, and create new programs and services for adolescents and adults.

Benefits of the alliance between Sinneave and SARRC include:

  •  Greater access to proven therapies for children and adults with autism and staff training in Calgary and Phoenix.
  •  Development of a blueprint for the creation of new autism research initiatives and resources in Calgary.
  •  The opportunity to develop systems and replicable packages for model programs that will be available to other communities.
  •  Co-development of new programs to enhance the abilities and independence of adolescents and adults with autism.
  •  Opening of a dialogue and information exchange between SARRC and Sinneave and their collaborating partners that further empowers research alliances.

Dr. Clarke and representatives from Sinneave traveled the world for nearly two years evaluating dozens of organizations in their search for the ideal model for research and support services in Calgary.

We started our search at SARRC, visited many other premier research centers and autism community organizations around the world, and ended our journey where we began, at SARRC, Clarke said.

Sinneave Familiy Foundation's decision to collaborate with SARRC grew from its recognition of SARRC's long-held core values, including its pioneering, family-centered approach; community engagement principles; research and clinical integrity; and success as a full-service organization.

The first phases of the collaboration focuses on training and implementation of community programs aimed at serving teens and adults with autism.

We're already making remarkable progress both in the U.S. and Canada, said Jeri Kendle, acting president of SARRC and director of the Vocational and Life Skills Academy. We've spent more than a dozen years developing SARRC, fine-tuning programs and analyzing the needs of the autism community. We're working with the staff at Sinneave to customize our existing programs to meet their specific needs. As we continue our alliance, we look forward to working with Sinneave's partnering organizations which represent Canadian and world leaders dedicated to advancing discoveries and supporting our children and adults living with autism.

Since its founding in 1997, SARRC has significantly advanced its research studies and collaborations with researchers from around the world. SARRC has collaborated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (T-Gen), Autism Speaks, the National Institutes of Health, the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, the Boston-based Autism Consortium, Organization for Autism Research, Autism Society of America and others. SARRC also provides support to families dealing with the daily challenges of life with autism by offering a wide variety of programs and services for individuals affected by autism and their family members.

About SARRC:

The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, founded in 1997, is a nonprofit, community-based organization in Phoenix, Arizona, dedicated to autism research, education and outreach to individuals with autism and their families. SARRC undertakes self-directed and collaborative research, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects, and provides up-to-date information, training and assistance to families and professionals about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). For more information, visit www.autismcenter.org.

About Sinneave Foundation:

The Sinneave Family Foundation was established as a charitable organization in March 2008 by dedicated patrons Jim and Marion Sinneave who were driven by a desire to see improvements to the services and supports for individuals and families affected by autism. In collaboration with community partners, and on the foundation of evidence-based findings, the Sinneave Family Foundation's focus is on increasing access to and expanding ASD resources, building capacity through education and training, and creating programs and services for adults and adolescents living with ASDs. For more information, visit: www.sinneavefoundation.org.


International Collaboration FACT SHEET

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