Benefactor and Strategic Advisor
The UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center bears its name from 1995 UNT graduate, Kristin Farmer. The field of autism has been and continues to be the primary focus of Farmer's professional life. After completing her Bachelor's degree in Education from Oklahoma University in 1992, Farmer started teaching first grade at a public school in Virginia. Her assigned classroom happened to be adjacent to the special education classroom containing several students with autism. During the course of that first year of teaching, Farmer interacted with these students using behavior techniques that resulted in profound life changes for them and for her. Farmer knew with conviction that she wanted to return to school to become specialized in working with children with autism.
The University of North Texas accepted Farmer in to the Master's program for Special Education in 1993. Her studies were concentrated on behavioral disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Much of Farmer's graduate work supervision was performed by then professor, and current Executive Director of the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center, Dr. Kevin C. Callahan.
Even before completing her coursework, Farmer began to work privately with families to develop in-home behavior programs. She continued her innovative methods for the public school system in Virginia Beach upon graduation. By 1995, Farmer's classroom had become a model for children with autism for the district and the state. She was a recognized expert in the region for training other teachers on how to work with students with autism.
Later in 1995, Farmer relocated to San Diego, California and formed her own company providing behavioral intervention services to individuals with autism. Demand quickly grew. Farmer hired and trained other qualified professionals to assist in the workload. This company evolved in to what is known today as ACES (Comprehensive Educational Services, Inc. dba ACES). Today ACES offers multi-disciplinary services for children with autism in five states, including Texas. The company employs approximately 800 people.
September 2012 was a special time for Ms. Farmer. As a loyal alumna of UNT, she publicly attributes her successes of today to the opportunities provided to her by the university. The opening of the UNT Kristin Farmer Autism Center in September 2012 was the culmination of five years of collaboration between Farmer and university officials in developing a center focused on educating students and professionals in the field, elevating the standards in treatment of autism spectrum disorders, and becoming a top training center for diagnostics and research.
Ms. Farmer received the Distinguished Alumna Award from UNT in 2010. She is a member of the UNT Founders Circle and an active member of UNT's Capital Campaign Executive Committee. She was featured in the Fall 2012 alumni publication, The North Texan. Ms. Farmer resides in Dallas, Texas with her children.