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Final Word: SARRC’s meaning to the Valley

Wednesday is KTAR’s Action for Autism.

We take a break from our regular broadcast day and focus on the kids at SAARC and families who are affected by autism.

SAARC is, if you are not aware, one of Phoenix’s treasures. If you have a child with autism, you want to live here, because the staff at SAARC change lives every day.

SAARC stands for the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. It is the brainchild of Denise Resnik, a brilliant Valley woman who, 21 years ago, had a son named Matt.

Matt has autism, and when he was diagnosed, there was no real resource for parents with autistic kids and those numbers weren’t nearly as high as they are now. In fact, recent numbers put the rate of autism in Arizona at one in 55. Boys are more affected than girls, but you can’t deny that in recent years, the numbers have exploded.

Whether there are in fact, more kids with autism or our diagnosis is becoming more precise and resulting in more positive diagnoses, I don’t know. But I do know what it’s like for a family to get a diagnosis like this one.

It’s devastating.

Every plan, every dream you had disappears. Everyday milestones that other kids breeze through, yours may never reach them. A lot of my friends who have autistic kids, their biggest fear? It’s not outliving their child, and wondering what will become of them. Who will be there to take care of them?

But the staff at SARRC, they are miracle workers. They are not only working to help families deal with the issues their autistic children have, they work with the whole family, to make sure no one is left out of the process; from sisters and brothers, to grandmas and grandpas.

And they are leading the way in research too, trying to pinpoint a cause for this most mysterious of disorders.

I read a post on Facebook the other day, from the mom of an autistic boy, about kids with autism, it read “We are not here to fit into your box, we are here to help you realize that there is no box.” What a fresh way to look at it.

Thanks, SARRC, for reminding us all to look beyond the box.

Join us Wednesday for Action for Autism.