UNT centers earn grant to create training video to help young adults with autism

Building on a legacy of autism research and student-centered financial literacy services at the University of North Texas, UNT's Student Money Management Center and UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center are creating a video to train others how to teach basic budgeting and financial literacy to young adults with autism spectrum disorders.

The two UNT centers earned a grant from the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education to create the training video, which is expected to be complete in June.

"To my knowledge UNT is one of the first universities in the country to specifically address the financial literacy of students with special learning needs using video technology," said Kevin Callahan, executive director of the Kristin Farmer Autism Center.

The $2,500 Mary O'Neill Mini-Grant from the association will be used to cover script development, filming and post-production costs of a video that will be available for free on the Student Money Management Center and Kristin Farmer Autism Center websites.

"Money management is a common denominator in everyone's lives," said Paul Goebel, senior director of the Student Money Management Center. "We look forward to an exciting collaboration with UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center team and creating a resource that will benefit students and families at UNT and across the country. With this video, financial literacy professionals from around the country can gain better insight in how to take the topic of financial literacy – as well as the core skills of budgeting – and present it to individuals with autism."

The train-the-trainer video model will help reach people beyond UNT – including family members, teachers and other service providers for people with autism.

"Current research indicates that many young men and women on the autism spectrum experience significant challenges with self-management, including navigating their finances successfully," Callahan said. "This collaboration with the UNT Student Money Management Center fits nicely within the Kristin Farmer Autism Center's life-span mission and our partnership with the Office of Disability Accommodation to provide positive supports for UNT's students with autism. Our shared goal is that all students with special needs will attain a higher level of independent functioning as a result of this program."

The student-driven video will be created with the help of Eric Izuora, a graduate assistant in the Student Money Management Center, and UNT students will provide the on-camera and voiceover talent.

"With the help of the autism center, this grant will allow us to consider how we package our services in a way that makes sense -- not just to people with autism spectrum disorders at UNT, but people at other places of learning and higher education and in the work force," said Izuora, who is working on a master's degree in public administration.

About UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center

UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center provides families a resource for comprehensive autism spectrum disorders treatment, research and support and allows UNT to bring together its long history of interdisciplinary autism services and research under one roof. The center allows families in the North Texas region and beyond to have access to high-quality services designed and implemented by top researchers, professors and professionals in the fields of special education, applied behavior analysis, early childhood intervention, speech and language pathology, and other fields in autism and disabilities intervention.

About the UNT Student Money Management Center

The Student Money Management Center provides personal consultations, workshops, seminars, presentations, online resources and emergency-based loan programs to help students increase their money management skills and knowledge.

-Ellen Rossetti, UNT News Services