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Concert to help boost local autism services

The director of the University of North Texas Kristin Farmer Autism Center hopes Saturday’s benefit concert will give the center itself more exposure.

The DREAM 2013 Benefit Concert is one of the highlights of the fifth Adventures in Autism Intervention and Research conference, which will be hosted on the UNT campus all day on Saturday.

“The proceeds from the conference will directly support the three mission areas of the Kristin Farmer Autism Center: direct therapeutic services for families throughout the D-FW area, research and training,” executive director Kevin Callahan said. “As a new multidisciplinary center, we operate on a very limited budget, and all donations will help move our mission forward.”

The new center trains UNT students who are pursuing specialties in special education, and it serves families affected by autism, a disorder that affects the brain and disrupts social interaction, including verbal and nonverbal interaction, and often manifests as a set of compulsive and repetitive behaviors. Some cases are severe, with the afflicted unable to be independent, while other kinds of autism are less severe and sometimes go undiagnosed.

Callahan said the UNT center serves as a field experience site for students in the College of Education’s special-education program and students taking courses in the Department of Educational Psychology. The college offers both a master’s degree program with an emphasis on autism intervention, and a doctoral program in autism research, which is one of only a few such programs in the U.S.

The center is also an observation site for students studying hearing and speech science, behavioral analysis and family studies. The center works with the Texas Woman’s University adapted physical education program, and it directly supports UNT’s many students on the autism spectrum.

The benefit concert could raise awareness about the Farmer Center and its programs for the community, too.

“Many families are unable to afford the relatively high cost of intensive therapeutic programming for individuals with autism, and the proceeds will allow us to serve additional families and children,” Callahan said.

For more information about the center, visit  or call 940-369-5373.

— Lucinda Breeding