Press Release – SARRC Program for Early Autism Detection Receives $50K in Support

photoPHOENIX− The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center will pilot a new program to improve early detection and intervention for infants at high risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder, thanks to significant contributions from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and the Pakis Family Foundation.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and the Pakis Family Foundation, via the Arizona Community Foundation, have each awarded $25,000 in seed money to SARRC for the “Milestones” program. SARRC is seeking to secure an additional $50,000 for Milestones as it begins enrollment of eligible families to pilot the early-detection program next year.

“We are grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and the Pakis Family Foundation for their support for our efforts to diagnose and treat Autism Spectrum Disorder as early as possible,” said SARRC President and CEO Daniel Openden. “Through Milestones, SARRC will provide education and training to families that will help identify and achieve important developmental milestones in their children.”

SARRC will recruit 60 families to participate in Milestones who have a newborn 6 to 12 months old. Thirty of the families will have had an older child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder while the other 30 families will not. SARRC will work closely with the families to monitor their children for signs of the disorder.

image_1 “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona has long supported SARRC in its efforts to equip families with knowledge and resources,” said Sue Glawe, vice president of BCBSAZ community relations.

“Support for Milestones further demonstrates their commitment to those touched by autism. Through early detection, parents and children will not only learn how to deal with challenges, but thrive. We are proud to play a role in launching such an important program.”

“The Pakis Family Foundation is very pleased to support an organization that has such a great track record as SARRC,” said Jack Alling, a board member at the Pakis Family Foundation.

“We are equally excited to provide early support to develop a program such as Milestones, which will educate parents on their child’s developmental milestones and regularly assess for early warning signs of autism spectrum disorder.”

SARRC will ensure Milestones’ families whose children are diagnosed with autism access treatment and other services.

imageOne in 64 Arizonans has autism. On average, children are diagnosed at around age 5.

“Diagnosis should occur much sooner – at least before the child is 2, if not earlier,” said Christopher J. Smith, SARRC vice president and director of research. “Early detection and early intervention give children the best chance for optimal development.”

For more information about Milestones, please contact SARRC at or (602) 340-8717.

Information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is available at For more information about the Pakis Family Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation, visit


Established in 1997, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to autism research, education, evidence-based treatment, and community outreach. We are one of the only autism organizations in the world that provides a lifetime of services for individuals and their families while conducting cutting-edge research. More information is at