North Texas Daily

Autism center hosts 5th annual conference

Autism center hosts 5th annual conference

Autism center hosts 5th annual conference
July 25
10:17 2013

Tyler Owens / Senior Staff Writer

Parents, students, speakers and professionals in the field of autism research will gather in the Business Leadership Building for the Fifth Annual Adventures in Autism Research and Intervention Conference at 9 a.m. on July 27.

The conference will feature nationally known keynote speakers and more than 20 breakout sessions geared toward attendees’ specific needs.

“We really pride ourselves on the fact that it’s great for parents,” said Kevin Stewart, director of outreach and training for the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center (KFAC). “It’s not this stuffy, research conference where if you aren’t a PhD you don’t understand what’s going on.”

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities awarded the KFAC with a grant to send fifty parents of children with autism to the conference free of charge. The KFAC is also offering free childcare during the conference.

The conference generally costs from $65 to $105 depending on when the attendee registers and how people many are in his or her group.

“We wanted to have a day where parents and professionals in the field of autism could come, very reasonably, and hear a variety of new research about interventions and treatments,” said Kevin Callahan, a speaker in one of the breakout sessions for the conference.

Callahan, one of the conference’s original organizers, will focus on eye color and special disorders for his session.

The conference will feature keynote addresses from Brian Reichow of the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Conn., and Katherine Loveland of University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Smith Mehta, an associate professor in special education at UNT, said that many of her Master’s and Doctoral students are excited to meet professionals in the field of autism intervention.

“I used Dr. Reichow’s textbook in one of my doctoral courses and my students are thrilled about meeting him in person,” Mehta said.

Mehta also said that the conference works as a recruiting tool for the university’s higher education programs, citing that many apply for the program because of the presentations at the conference.

Stewart said that he has high expectations for the future of the conference.

“I see this as something that’s going to be pretty big in the future,” he said. “I would like to see it, in the next few years, being held at Apogee Stadium or the Super Pit, something big where we have a headliner that’s nationally known.”

Following the conference at 4:30 p.m., the KFAC will host the inaugural DREAM 2013 Autism Benefit Concert in the atrium of the BLB.

The concert features local and Austin-area bands and lasts until 1 a.m.

Both Stewart and Callahan wanted to thank Kristin Farmer for her support and sponsorship of the conference and UNT autism center, which opened last September.

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