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UNC Autism Fathers Conference on Sept. 14 to focus on challenges fathers face.

UNC Autism Fathers Conference on Sept. 14 to focus on challenges fathers face.


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Sept. 10, 2019 – The first-ever UNC Autism Fathers Conference, on Sept. 14 at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, will address the important role of fathers in parenting individuals with autism, and the unique, often unrecognized issues they face.

WHAT: The conference’s aim is exploring the perspective of fathers who care for children with autism, and offering support and resources. The event is designed to be the first in a series of gatherings tied to the internationally recognized autism programs at UNC.

WHY: The conference is an outgrowth of one father’s journey – award-winning broadcaster Dwayne Ballen – and the efforts to expand his insights and experiences to a wider audience of fathers. Ballen is a Raleigh resident and the author of a memoir, “Journey with Julian,” which explores the challenges he faced raising a son with autism.

“Our family has been on this journey, through the world of autism, for nearly 16 years,” Ballen said. “For me, it’s been good to know that I wasn’t the only father who has a child with autism. It’s therapeutic to talk with other people who are going through their own journeys.”

WHEN: Sat., Sept. 14, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: The Carolina Inn, 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill

WHO: Professionals from the sports and art/entertainment worlds will discuss their personal experiences in the morning keynote and other conference sessions. Speakers (and interview opportunities) include:

  • Former professional baseball player and UNC alumnus B.J. Surhoff
  • NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham
  • Documentary filmmaker Charles Jones
  • Dr. Joe Piven, director of the Carolina Center for Developmental Disabilities at UNC
  • Dwayne Ballen, an award-winning sports broadcaster and author of “Journey with Julian,” a memoir detailing his experiences raising a child with autism.

To register for the conference, or to get an agenda and more information, visit here. Breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be provided.

For more information on the UNC Autism Research Center, click here. The center is a new model for developing personalized interventions that improve the lives of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The center brings together genetics, pharmacology, public health and intervention expertise at UNC to tackle autism’s greatest challenges.