2021 Virtual Summit Speakers

Virginia Spielmann, MSOT (She/Her) (Co-Host)Speaker - Virginia Spielmann
Executive Director

Virginia is a well-travelled speaker, coach and educator on topics including sensory integration, DIR/Floortime, child development and infant mental health. She has conducted trainings in Kenya, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and the USA and leads workshops at international conferences.

Virginia is a founder and former Clinical Director of SPOT (Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy) Interdisciplinary Children's Therapy Center in Hong Kong, where she led a large and widely respected inter-disciplinary team.

Virginia obtained her BSc in Occupational Therapy in Oxford England (2002) and her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee (2018). She is a DIR/Floortime Training Leader and Expert and clinical consultant for the Interdisciplinary Council for Development and Learning (ICDL). Her extensive pediatric experience includes children on the autism spectrum, as well as those with Sensory Processing Disorder, infant mental health issues, adoption, developmental trauma.

Virginia has considerable post-graduate training, she is certified on the SIPT and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on mental health, with Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara. She is a published author and contributed to the STAR Frame of Reference as part of the 4th Edition of Frames of Reference for Pediatric Occupational Therapy, alongside Dr. Miller and Dr. Schoen.

Kieran Rose (Co-Host)Speaker - Kieran Rose
Consultant, Writer, Advocate
United Kingdom

Kieran Rose is a published Writer and International Public Speaker whose essays at www.theautisticadvocate.com have been read by over a million people and cited in numerous research papers.

With a background in Education and service delivery, Kieran delivers his own specialist Autism training to families and Professionals and provides private consultancy for charities and organisations across the world that support Autistic children, adults and their families. An experienced international public speaker, Kieran regularly delivers paid webinars and has also guest-lectured at Universities across the UK.

He is Founder and Chair of The Autistic Cooperative , an International network and lobbying group for Autistic Professionals; and is Managing Director of the Social enterprise Infinite Autism, which supports Autistic people and families through funded partnership working in the North East of England.

Kieran is an executive board member of the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective, a US-based non-profit international network and lobbying organisation of Neurodiverse positive Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists.

He has also consulted on a number of research papers covering Autistic Masking, Autistic Burnout,  Autistic relationships, the voices of young Autistic people and Mate Crime in the Autistic community; and is co-producing research into Autistic masking  and Victimisation.

Kieran was diagnosed Autistic in 2003 at the age of 23; He is married with three children, two of whom are diagnosed Autistic. They all live in the UK with two cats and a collection of co-occurring conditions. Kieran is invested in challenging the current Autism narrative, supporting the Neurodiversity paradigm and is an advocate for the rights of all Autistic people.

Mim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L (She/Her) (Co-Host)Speaker - Mim Ochsenbein
Director of Education

Mim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist for over 20 years. She received her BSc in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1996 and her MSW from the university of California-Los Angeles in 2012 with an emphasis in non-profit management. She has received advanced training in sensory integration (SIPT certification, SPD ProCert1, SPD ProCert2), listening therapy (Therapeutic Listening, iLs), feeding therapy (SOS), DIR and infant massage (CIMI). Her work in occupational therapy with children and youth has occurred in a variety of settings including early intervention, school based, clinic based, mental health and private practice.  As a social worker she provided case management, program development, and program management. Mim has taught both graduate level and professional continuing education courses since 2013, and has been at the STAR Institute since 2017 at the invitation of Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, FAOTA, OTR. Mim strives to learn more and teach better.

Rachel Dorsey, MS, CCC-SLP (She/Her)Speaker - Rachel Dorsey
Speech Language Pathologist

Rachel Dorsey is an autistic/ADHD speech-language pathologist living in the greater Boston area with her husband and cat. She currently works in clinic-based private practice seeing clients for a broad range of services and has a part-time consultancy, Rachel Dorsey: Autistic SLP, LLC, where she provides education, coaching, and consultations to parents of autistic children and SLPs working with autistic children. Prior to her current work, she worked in community-based early intervention and preschool in addition to seeing clients of a variety of ages in the clinic. She is passionate about autism advocacy work, effective communication for the purpose of self-advocating and self-regulating, and dismantling the ableism often present in allied health professions.

Erin Bulluss, PhD (She/Her)Speaker - Erin Bulluss
Clinical Psychologist & Autistic Wellbeing Consultant

Dr Erin Bulluss (pronouns she/her) is an Australian clinical psychologist with a particular passion for working therapeutically with Autistic people through online telehealth platforms. She feels strongly about honouring neurodiversity in the pursuit of well-being and was diagnosed with autism herself in her mid-thirties. She brings together her personal and professional understandings of autism in her therapeutic approach, aiming to build a strong, collaborative therapeutic relationship based upon understanding and acceptance. Erin places the needs of the individual at the centre of her therapeutic approach so the experience of therapy is different for each and every individual.

In her clinical practice, Erin both treats co-occurring mental health conditions and offers “psychologically-informed mentoring” to assist neurodivergent individuals who have not developed any co-occurring diagnoses to accept their lovely uniqueness, navigate the neurotypical aspects of the world, and develop a lifestyle that promotes wellbeing and mental health.

Erin has published articles and presented workshops about her approach to therapy with Autistic individuals and hopes to promote acceptance of autism through contributing to the development of therapeutic approaches that genuinely embrace neurodiversity and do not place neurotypical expectations on neurodivergent individuals. Erin also co-authors a Psychology Today blog which aims to provide information about autism from the perspective of late-diagnosed Autistic professionals.

Damian Milton, PhDSpeaker - Damian Milton
Autistic Researcher and Lecturer
United Kingdom

Damian works part-time for the Tizard Centre, University of Kent as a Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Damian also teaches on the MA Education (Autism) programme at London South Bank University and has been a consultant for the Transform Autism Education (TAE) project and a number of projects for the Autism Education Trust (AET). Damian’s interest in autism began when his son was diagnosed in 2005 as autistic at the age of two.  Damian was also diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2009 at the age of thirty-six. Damian’s primary focus is on increasing the meaningful participation of autistic people and people with learning disabilities in the research process and chairs the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC).

Mariah Person (They/Them)Speaker - Mariah Person
Autistic Self-Advocate

Mariah received their official autism diagnosis at the age of 25, in July 2019. They are an aspiring dance movement therapist, intending to help people to heal and develop through movement, and help to understand the significance of stimming. Currently, they create an accessibility conscious curriculum for their dance/creative movement students. Mariah is still on the recovery end of burnout & is exploring how they can be of use to communities again. In 2019, they put on their first "autistic space" event called Express Unbound and is looking forward to continuing creating autistic lead accessible social spaces in the future."

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, PhD(c), MA (She/They)Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, PhD(c)
Advocate/Public Speaker/Writer

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, PhD(c), MA (she/they) is a global advocate, educator, and autistic person of color in a neurodiverse, multicultural, serodifferent family. A prolific writer, consultant, and social scientist/activist whose work focuses on meaningful community involvement, human rights, intersectional justice, and inclusion, Morénike is a Humanities Scholar at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Co-Chair of the Women’s HIV Research Collaborative, and a member of several executive boards.

Morénike has been an invited speaker at the United Nations, the White House, and numerous peer-reviewed international conferences in addition to contributing author/editor of several publications, abstracts, and books focusing on community engagement, intersectionality, disability, advocacy, and inclusion. Publications of note include the first anthology on autism and race All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, a 2021 edited collection from Beacon Press Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity, and the forthcoming Neurodiversity en Noir: A Collection of Black Neurodiverse Voices from Jessica Kingsley Publishing (2022).

Follow Morénike’s work at https://MorenikeGO.com

Renee Allen, MS, OTR/L (She/Her)Speaker - Renee Allen
Occupational Therapist

Renee is a pediatric occupational therapist who has more than 20 years of experience treating children and their families with sensory processing challenges in homes, schools, and private clinics.  She worked under Dr. Miller and Dr. Schoen at the STAR Institute from 2008-2011. She then opened her own small practice in Northeast Denver, where she continues to utilize the STAR model. Renee is Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) trained, Integrated Listening Systems (ILs) trained, and holds an advanced certification in DIR /Floortime through the International Council on Development and Learning (ICDL). She is a lifelong learner and enjoys the questions as much as the answers. She has been teaching Mentorship 1 as Faculty for the SPD Foundation since 2015. She also supervises other OTs around the country. She is passionate about understanding development through the interdependent connections of sensory processing, regulation, and relationship and teaching parents and other professionals to be curious about these connections as well. 

Shelly J Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTASpeaker - Shelly Lane
Professor and Academic Program Director

Shelly J Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is Professor and Academic Program Director at Colorado State University and Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Newcastle, Australia. With degrees in both occupational therapy and neuroscience, she has focused her research on neuroscience applications in occupational therapy, and neurophysiologic underpinnings of sensory integration and processing in children. Her current research addresses playfulness and interaction in father-child pairs; effectiveness of the Alert Program® for self-regulation in children with autism; effect of participation in Camp Jabiru on self-regulation, playfulness, and sensory integration/processing, and understanding the physiologic correlates of sensory modulation disorders and occupational therapy interventions. Her clinical work includes that with children who have experienced early childhood trauma, and children with sensory concerns linked to ADHD and ASD.

Marco Leao, MOTSpeaker - Marco Leao
Vice President

Marco Leao, MOT is a first-year Ph.D. student in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science at Colorado State University, where he works as a graduate research assistant for Prof. Lane. His research interests include examining the contribution of sensory integration and processing to school participation, academic success, and daily occupations and contributing to the understanding and placement of occupational therapy into the broader area of educational neuroscience. Previously, Marco had been practicing occupational therapy for over ten years in clinics and schools in Portugal, serving neurodiverse children and their families. Since 2019 he has been lecturing internationally and running a virtual educational platform for parents, teachers, and therapists.

Shannon Des Roches Rosa (She/Her)Speaker - Shannon Rosa
Senior Editor

Shannon Rosa is the senior editor of Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, an autism information and advocacy nexus. Her writing can be found in The Washington Post and Spectrum News, among other places. She lives in California with her family.



Amy Pearson, PhD (She/Her)Speaker - Amy Pearson
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
United Kingdom

Dr. Amy Pearson is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland. She graduated with a BSc in Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Nottingham in 2009, followed by a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2010 and a PhD in Autism research in 2014, focusing on the development of visuo-spatial skills in autistic people. Since then, her research has focused on understanding everyday issues in the lives of autistic people, such as interpersonal relationships and masking through the lens of the neurodiversity paradigm. She is a Fellow of Higher Education Academy and a member of the Experimental Psychology Society. She is also a member of the British Psychological Society Developmental Section and co-editor of the BPS Developmental Forum.

Stephanie MitelmanSpeaker - Stephanie Mitelman
Sex Educator

Stephanie Mitelman is Part-Time Faculty at Concordia University for the past 18 years, where she teaches courses on sexuality, diversity, relationships, communication, and family life education. She is a Member of the Order of Sexologists of Quebec, a Certified Sexuality Educator, and a Certified Family Life Educator. She is one of the founding members of the Sexual Health Network of Quebec. Mitelman trains Boards, organizations, teachers and therapists across Canada and the USA on teaching sexuality to those with special needs, and has a private practice working one on one with individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and sensory challenges. She has been creating materials for the classroom for twenty years and  specializes in creating unique activity kits to address specific questions about puberty, health, boundaries, safety and consent, for typically developing students as well as those with special needs- www.sexedmart.com

Steven Kapp, PhDSpeaker - Stephanie Mitelman
Lecturer in Psychology
United Kingdom

Steven Kapp, Ph.D. is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. He completed a postdoctoral research fellowship on the Wellcome Trust-funded project Exploring Diagnosis: Autism and Neurodiversity at the University of Exeter, UK. He edited the book Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline, featuring analysis of first-hand accounts by leading autistic and allied activists, published by Palgrave Macmillan. His studies examine how conceptions of autism, neurodiversity, and support associate with identity, lived experiences, and quality of life. As a self-advocate he has supported systems change work for inclusive employment and influenced the DSM-5 autism diagnosis.

Julie SandoSpeaker - Julie Saldo and Jake Reisman
AT Specialist

With a degree in Communication, a minor in Psychology, and a certificate in Assistive Technology, Julie has worked with hundreds (if not thousands) of families worldwide, since 1998. She broke free from the world of programs and techniques when her instructors made the program more important than the person. This shaped every action she takes today. You won't see her trying to make everyone the same. You will experience freedom, innovation, and an excitement to learn when you are with her.

Today she uses her extensive training in relationships and communication, paired with her training from the best experts in the world (thank you autistic people), to help parents and professionals find their true voices, so they can best help their kids (and adults) find their true voice. Her purpose is to remind people how to be human in their interactions with people on the spectrum or with any disability. And to make sure everyone is heard, valued, respected, and living their best-reimagined lives.

Jake Reisman

Jake Reisman, a student from San Diego, CA, is a young adult on the autism spectrum who communicates through spelling. Jake is passionate about his community. He is always wanting to learn more about history, which stems from his desire to learn from the past in order to improve the future. He is excited to help build a spelling community to live and learn. (18 years old)

Marcia Eckerd, PhDSpeaker - Marcia Eckerd
Diagnostician, Therapist, Writer, Speaker

Marcia has worked with autistic individuals as a licensed psychologist for 30 years. She was appointed to the CT ASD Advisory Council and serves on the Clinical Advisory Group of the Asperger’s Autism Network (AANE.org), a nationally recognized resource for autism services and education. She’s also on the Board of Directors of NeuroClastic.org, an autistic nonprofit that provides education, opportunities, and resources for autistic individuals. 

As a prolific writer and lecturer, Marcia has written 3 professional journal articles on autism for the Journal of Health Services Psychology (JHSP), one focusing on diagnosing autistic adults and one specifically on diagnosing autistic women. Her blog on Psych Central for 2016- 2020 focused on neurodivergent thinkers, and her current blog on Psychology Today is “Everyday Neurodiversity.” She presented workshops on autism for the “Learning and the Brain” conference co-sponsored by Harvard, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Tufts, and for an international conference, “Special Kids International Summit” co-sponsored by UNESCO.

As a result of her focus on autistic women, Marcia has worked with women from all over the United States to provide an autistic diagnosis when they were misunderstood and misdiagnosed by their clinical providers. She is proud to use her professional platforms to be an advocate for having the mental health profession learn about neurodiversity and how to respect and work with neurodivergent clients.