North Texas Daily

Across all spectrums

Across all spectrums

November 05
03:48 2015

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighnic0le

Kevin Callahan, executive director of the Kristin Farmer Autism Center at UNT, originally had the idea to develop a comprehensive autism center in the 90s.

Located across campus off South Interstate 35, the center provides autistic individuals with equal access to the services.

“I have a family member with an intellectual disability, and when you grow up with that, you learn to appreciate individuals’ skills and talents in the world,” Callahan said.

Jackson, a young client of the center, looks through books with his behavioral interventionist, Paige Wilhelm on Tuesday. Jackson prefers to read books during group activity, which can range from building blocks to cutting out shapes. Brittany Sodic | Staff Photographer

Jackson, a young client of the center, looks through books with his behavioral interventionist, Paige Wilhelm on Tuesday. Jackson prefers to read books during group activity, which can range from building blocks to cutting out shapes. Brittany Sodic | Staff Photographer

The center was established in 2012 and works to serve families in the community with a threefold mission: research, training and direct services.

Callahan said the KFAC could have up to half a dozen different autism research projects going at one time.

“I feel it is important to be involved in research,” Callahan said. “There is always something new to discover or learn about.”

The center’s annual conference, “Adventures in Autism,” raises awareness about new treatments and discoveries. The center also allows open counseling and training to those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of autism.

“We strive to educate people,” director of intervention Susan Nichols said. “When you make an impact with one client, it causes a ripple effect. It impacts their families, their progress in school and the overall community. We work towards making meaningful steps in individuals’ lives and those involved in it.”

The services include individualized one-on-one intervention, behavioral therapy, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and diagnostic and evaluation services.

The center creates specific treatment plans for each client, and the treatments depend on individuals’ strengths and weaknesses.

“We provide direct services across the spectrum and the lifespan,” associate executive director Heather Hughes said. “Our youngest client to date was 18 months old, and our eldest client is 52, so we create treatment plans based on individual needs. The scope and nature of the services vary from one client to the next.” 

Behavioral interventionist Bailey Trousdale helps Thomas, a client of the center, build a foundation for his tower of blocks. While activities like this can appear as play, they are strategic and instrumental in helping children improve their skills of interaction and communication. Brittany Sodic | Staff Photographer

Behavioral interventionist Bailey Trousdale helps Thomas, a client of the center, build a foundation for his tower of blocks. While activities like this can appear as play, they are strategic and instrumental in helping children improve their skills of interaction and communication. Brittany Sodic | Staff Photographer

Although the center has many different elements, Callahan said the staff learns just as much as the clients do. He said he’s grateful that there are so many people–even students–that are willing to come, help and learn at the center as a group.

“The center could not function without UNT students,” Callahan said. “Of the 90 people we have on staff, probably around 75 of those are students. They are eager and excited to work in this field, and by working at the center, it gears them up for the professional world.”

Callahan said the work the staff does, whether they have a degree or are still going through school, makes a lasting impact on the lives of people with autism. The reactions and impressions are why he wanted to bring the KFAC to life in the first place.

“We had a Columbian client once, and one day I got a call from the parents,” Callahan said. “They were at an airport and were thanking me over and over again while crying because this was the first time their child was able to get on a plane to see family thanks to the center. They were so grateful, and it’s moments like those that I cherish so dearly.”

Featured Image: Kevin Callahan, executive director at the Kristin Farmer Autism Center, takes a break from his work on Tuesday. Brittany Sodic | Staff Photographer

About Author

Reporter

Reporter

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

Search Bar

Social Media

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @TexasVeggieFair: Thanks to @shardenwhite and @ntdaily for this article about the 10th annual #TexasVeggieFair! #TVF2019 #TVFTURNS10ht…
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @shardenwhite: @obedmanuel @ntdaily Thank you! It was such a pleasure hearing and sharing their story.
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @obedmanuel: Denton family serves up traditional food and values in new Honduran restaurant, via @ntdaily. Love this feature that highli…
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
Denton family serves up traditional food and values in new Honduran restaurantby @shardenwhitehttps://t.co/5yGrolquvt
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
OPINION: Twitter's political ad ban is a step too far in the wrong directionby @TarpleyWillhttps://t.co/vvaBC7GtLB
h J R

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad