University of North Texas

UNT Insider | June 2012 issue | Behavior analysis earns award, newsautism center set to open

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Behavior analysis earns award, newsautism center set to open

From a UNT News Service press release

The Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis awarded UNT's Department of Behavior Analysis its 2012 Enduring Programmatic Contributions Award for having established a tradition of leadership in teaching, service and scholarship.

"We are honored to accept this award, which reflects the department's continuing positive impact on the field of behavior analysis," says Rick Smith, department chair and associate professor of behavior analysis.

The Department of Behavior Analysis, which is in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, was the nation's first stand-alone department of behavior analysis and developed the first graduate program in the nation to be accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The department also developed the nation's first undergraduate degree in applied behavior analysis and the first online program for professionals seeking certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. The Department of Behavior Analysis was instrumental in founding the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis, and now houses the organization's headquarters.

The department has a longstanding reputation for excellence for its work in autism and related fields, behavior and cultural analysis, applied behavior analysis with animals, and more. The department offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs as well as a graduate certificate program for professionals interested in continuing their education.

The university is set to open the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center in fall 2012, providing a resource for comprehensive autism spectrum disorders treatment, research and support to families in the North Texas region. The center will be housed within the ACES Kristin Farmer Education and Research Center building, located near the intersection of Interstate 35-E and Teasley Lane in Denton.

The center, founded with the help of donor and alumna Kristin Farmer, founder of Autism Comprehensive Educational Services, will provide high quality services designed and implemented by top researchers, professors and professionals in the field of special education, applied behavior analysis, early childhood intervention, speech and language pathology, and other fields in autism and disabilities intervention.

"This will be a place where parents and families in the community can receive access to the top, cutting-edge interventions and treatments in autism in one location, and where researchers can conduct innovative research," says Kevin Callahan, director of the center.

Planned services include:

  • diagnostic testing and evaluation
  • special education for elementary-aged students with autism spectrum disorders
  • behavior analysis and therapy
  • speech and language therapy
  • play, music and art therapy
  • psychological counseling for families, parents, siblings and individuals
  • nutritional services
  • occupational and physical therapy
  • social skills training

Experts from UNT's College of Education, College of Public Affairs and Community Service and College of Arts and Sciences will collaborate on research and programs at the center, which will continue UNT's history of expanding autism research and programs.

The autism center also will host the Adventures in Autism Intervention and Research conference July 28 at UNT. The conference will include:

  • More than 20 presentations by nationally recognized autism researchers and practitioners
  • Discussions of current research highlighting new developments in autism intervention
  • Presentations by keynote speakers, Linda R. Watson from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Jennifer Zarcone from the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Neurobehavioral Unit

For more information about the center or the conference, contact Kevin Callahan at or 940-369-7426.

Leslie Wimmer with UNT News Service can be reached at

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June 2012

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