While Autism Awareness Month may be drawing to a close, there are charities and social groups that work year-round to make sure individuals on the spectrum have all the aid and resources they need to integrate with the greater community.
THE SOUTHWEST AUTISM RESEARCH & RESOURCE CENTER
Based out of Phoenix, AZ, the SARRC has been in operation since 1997 and works to ensure that individuals on the spectrum receive aid at all points in life in order to achieve social development and community interaction that fits their needs. For children, the SARRC provides a Comprehensive Behavioral Program to be carried out by parents and teachers. Education is also provided for parents learning how to raise children on the spectrum, as well as advice on composing IEPs.
For teenagers, the SARRC provides community service programs that offer opportunities for socialization and growth on afternoons and weekends. Vocational assessments, adaptive skills training, and trial internships are also available for those seeking to get a leg up in the work force. For adults, the SARRC provides vocational assessments and employment services. The organization also runs Beneficial Beans, a Phoenix-based community garden business that provides adults on the spectrum with employment opportunities and hospitality training.
The SARRC also provides summer camps for children on the spectrum and training in independent living skills, such as financial management and personal advocacy, for adults. The charity has received four stars from Charity Navigator and accepts donations in the form of cash and goods (e.g., sporting equipment, gift cards, vehicles).
As an individual on the spectrum growing up in the Nineties, I was lucky to receive a wide swathe of resources that helped me to better integrate with the community, ranging from sensory integration therapy to physical therapy to a specialized IEP. I recognize that I was lucky, and that others may not have the same opportunities – or may require more specialized aid. Thus, it makes me feel good to know that the SARRC is working to make sure that individuals on the spectrum have these opportunities. But there is always more to be done, more to learn about the condition, and more opportunities to be provided. So, when it comes to making sure that individuals on the spectrum have what they need to deal with the world, the SARRC seems like a good bet, as they have not only done the work on making sure such opportunities are available, but are doing further research into the particularities of autism across the lifespan, so that further possibilities for therapy and teaching may be found.