Circle time in The UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center

Understanding autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the biggest health and education challenges of our time with the number of diagnoses on the rise at a dramatic pace. At the University of North Texas, faculty and staff in 12 departments across four colleges are diligently working to understand the complexities of this disorder. Using diagnostic testing, intervention services, behavioral therapy and counseling, these researchers are putting together pieces of the puzzle and creating real-world solutions to train professionals in the field and help those living with ASD achieve their greatest potential.

Collaboration Spotlight
Students programming a Texas Instruments Innovator Rover, a small table top robotProviding STEM camps for students with disabilities

The UNT Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment program (UNTWISE) housed in the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services in the College of Health and Public Service is collaborating with the College of Engineering and the Sci-Tech Discovery Center in Frisco to offer three summer programs for students with disabilities. The 2019 Explore STEM! Summer Program, funded by the Texas Workforce Commission, will provide opportunities for students ages 14-22 to explore STEM activities and career possibilities. A similar program last summer, led by UNT faculty Nandika D'Souza in engineering, Demetria Ennis-Cole in learning technologies and Linda Holloway in rehabilitation and health services, combined WISE's expertise working with youth with disabilities and the engineering faculty's experience in providing STEM education to introduce students with disabilities to chemistry, engineering and learning technology. Learn more about Explore STEM!

Research News
Enabling Health Technologies
Improving accessibility and independence

Aging and disability can impact daily living. Researchers at UNT are exploring technology such as virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, robotics, data science, smart materials, 3D printing and novel building methods along with new education practices and support systems to improve independence and quality of life for those with disabilities. On May 2, the Enabling Health Technologies Summit, hosted by UNT's Office of Faculty Success and College of Engineering, will bring together researchers, community members and other stakeholders to encourage and formalize new collaborative relationships to develop solutions. The free event, from 4 to 6 p.m. at UNT's Discovery Park, will include tours of engineering and computer science laboratories at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Learn more and register.

A child learning to associate numbers and days of the week on a calendar
Treating autism with behavioral artistry

Researchers at UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center are exploring how the interpersonal characteristics of therapists can affect the quality and outcomes of therapy for clients on the autism spectrum. A team of researchers led by the center's director Kevin Callahan examined the relationship between interpersonal skills and the Applied Behavior Analysis treatment of autism delivered by behavioral therapists, who have traditionally focused largely on the technical aspects of therapy. The study, which looked at what Callahan and his colleagues call "behavioral artistry," shows that those who demonstrate characteristics such as a sense of warmth, humor and perceptive sensitivity may deliver more effective treatments.

Kristen Farmer Autism Center
Adventures in Autism Intervention and Research Conference

On July 20, UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center will host the 11th Annual Adventures in Autism Intervention and Research Conference for educators, professionals, researchers and parents. Keynote speakers will include Pauline Filipek, presenting Thirty Years Plus of Lessons Learned in Early Identification and Intensive Interventions in ASD, and William L. Heward, co-author of Applied Behavior Analysis, speaking about collaboration with public schools. A limited number of free registrations are available to parents of a child with autism and self-advocates with autism.

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