2022 Symposium Speakers & Presentation Information

OCTOBER 13-15, 2022

Speakers & Presentation Details
Professional Workshop
2022 Exhibitors/Sponsors
Venue and Hotel Accommodations
Continuing Education Units

In-person Venue Location:
JCC Denver | Phillips Social Hall
Denver, CO


KEYNOTE: Dr. Virginia Spielmann | KEYNOTE: Dr. Lori Desautels | Dr. Kris Pizur-Barnekow | Dr. Antoine Bailliard | Dr. Karen Pryor | Dr. Sarah Schoen | Dr. Yun-Ju Chen

Speaker Disclosure Statements

KEYNOTE | A Dimensional Perspective on Trauma in Neurodivergent Populations - A Sensory Informed Approach

Virginia Spielmann, PhD, OTR/L (she/her) Speaker - Virginia Spielmann
Executive Director | STAR Institute

While research has identified that the neurodivergent population is at risk of classically defined trauma, it is clear that they also are subjected to chronic trauma from everyday interactions with a world that does not support or meet their needs. This keynote presentation will introduce a framework for identifying trauma in the neurodivergent population that falls outside mainstream interpretation of the word. A dimensional model of trauma for the neurodivergent population will be proposed and application of SAMHSA principles of trauma informed care focused on this population will be outlined.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify essential aspects in development of personhood related to self-definition and relational-self
  • State the general relation between occupational health and occupational marginalization
  • Describe specific examples of occupational marginalization and how they manifest as trauma in neurodivergent populations
  • Apply SAMHSA principles of trauma informed care including realizing, recognizing, responding, and resisting when serving neurodivergent populations


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.

KEYNOTE | The Developing Brain and Body and How Adversity Impacts Well-Being 

Lori Desautels, PhD (she/her) Speaker - Lori Desautels
Assistant Professor | Butler University

In this presentation, Dr. Desautels will share how adversity and trauma impact the developing brain and body, affecting cognition, behaviors, and relationships. She will also share the research of resiliency and how our brains and bodies repair and heal through trauma and adverse conditions in this time. This presentation will address the practices and strategies that are aligned with brain function and structure and can be implemented in our homes, schools and communities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Through lecture, discussions and application practices, describe the neurobiology of behaviors
  • Translate, modify and apply regulatory practices in schools and clinical settings for staff, students and children and youth
  • Explain how the four pillars of Applied Educational Neuroscience define a new lens for discipline

Dr. Lori Desautels, has been an Assistant Professor at Butler University since 2016 where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Education.  Lori was also an Assistant Professor at Marian University in Indianapolis for 8 years where she founded the Educational Neuroscience Symposium that has now reached thousands of educators and is in its 10th year.  Lori’s passion is engaging her students through the social and relational neurosciences as it applies to education by integrating the Applied Educational Neuroscience framework, and its learning principles and practices into her coursework at Butler.  The Applied Educational Neuroscience Certification, created by Lori in 2016, is specifically designed to meet the needs of educators, counselors, clinicians and administrators who work beside children and adolescents who have, and are, experiencing adversity and trauma. The certification is now global and has reached hundreds of educators.   Lori’s articles are published in Edutopia, Brain Bulletin, and Mind Body Spirit international magazine.  She was also published in the Brain Research Journal for her work in the fifth-grade classrooms during a course release position with Washington Township Schools. Lori continues her work co-teaching in the K-12 schools integrating her applied research into classroom procedures and transitions preparing the nervous system for learning and felt safety.  Lori is the author of 4 books.  Her most recent book, Connections over Compliance: Rewiring our Perceptions of Discipline was released in late 2020.   Her new book will be published in January, 2023 entitled, “Intentional Neuroplasticity, Our Educational Journey Towards Post Traumatic Growth.”
Lori has met with well over 100 school districts across the country, in Canada, Costa Rica, Australia, Scotland, England and Dubai equating to more than 100,000 educators with much more work to be done!

Speaker - Kris BarnekowBuilding Early Connections Through Co-Occupational Engagement: The Role of Intersensory Perception and Sensory Integration

Kris Pizur-Barnekow, PhD, OTR/L, IMH-E® (she/her)
Infant Family Specialist; Associate Professor | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Researchers in the field of intersensory perception and sensory integration recognize the contributions of sensory development in the formation of early relationships. Infants and young children attune to caregivers shortly after birth and this attunement process provides a foundation to early co-occupational engagement. Infants and young children require connectedness through relationships with their primary caregivers to survive, grow and develop. The practical and biological functions of connectedness or “being with another” foster structural and functional changes in neurological development during early childhood and beyond. The infant’s capacity to perceive sensory information and integrate sensory stimuli allow the infant to orient, attend and attune to their caregivers. During this presentation, participants will learn about the intersensory redundancy hypothesis, the role that sensory integration plays during early attunement and how to apply these principles into clinical reasoning when serving young children and their families.

Learning Objectives:

  • Differentiate between intersensory perception and sensory integration concepts
  • Integrate principles from intersensory redundancy hypothesis and sensory integration into the occupational therapy clinical reasoning process
  • Recognize the role that intersensory perception and sensory integration play when evaluating and treating co-occupational engagement in pediatric practice
  • Identify methods to apply concepts learned to a pediatric occupational therapy practice

Dr. Pizur-Barnekow serves as associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As a doctoral student, she studied under the mentorship of Dr. Gary Kraemer, author of Psychobiological Attachment Theory. The findings from her dissertation revealed that infants experience changes heart rate variability when presented with sensory stimuli that is visually and auditorily synchronous or asynchronous. In addition, the research findings identified an association between infant temperament style and maternal self-confidence and that mothers adjust their play style to support reciprocal play. These findings provided a foundation for the collaborative development of the model of co-occupation that she and Dr. Pickens disseminated in 2009, and to her subsequent interest in early childhood mental health. Since then, Dr. Pizur-Barnekow has authored or co-authored 32 papers, 9 book chapters and 70 presentations related to early childhood. In addition, she is endorsed by the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health as an Infant and Family Specialist, serves as the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador to Wisconsin and is the founder of Families First, LLC.

Sensory Health: A Relational and Emplaced (SHARE) Model of OccupationSpeaker - Antoine L. Bailliard

Antoine L. Bailliard, PhD, OTR/L (he/him)
Associate Professor~Duke University | Adjunct Professor~ University of North Carolina

This presentation will propose a new model for understanding occupation which foregrounds sensory health as contingent on the emplacement of prereflective perceptual orientations. Recent evidence from neuroscience, humanistic geography, anthropology, and occupational science will be discussed in light of the philosophical work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty to explain the model. The model presents a unique lens to understand occupation which moves away from a reductionist portrayal of sensory health to a holistic one that acknowledges the richness and temporality of everyday experience. Implications for therapy and clinical practice will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe how to use the SHARE model to explain occupational expressions
  • Explain the role of sensory anchors in occupation
  • Interpret occupation as relational and emplaced
  • Explain how to apply a sensory health perspective in assessment and intervention
  • Describe how an occupational justice perspective relates to a sensory health perspective at micro, meso, and macro levels of practice

Dr. Antoine Bailliard is Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Duke University School of Medicine.  He is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned an M.S. in Occupational Therapy and a PhD in Occupational Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on exploring how sensory processing patterns affect community integration and participation in meaningful occupations. His community-engaged scholarship focuses on improving the delivery of community-based services for adults with serious mental illness. His theoretical work focuses on expanding understandings of occupational justice to enhance inclusion and understandings of how sensory processing patterns affect meaningful participation. Dr. Bailliard uses participatory methods to partner with people with lived experience with mental illness to design and implement research activities and in the development of tools and programs that improve the health, wellbeing, meaningful participation, and community integration of persons with serious mental illness. Dr. Bailliard’s clinical experience spans from working in acute inpatient mental health, chronic inpatient mental health, and community-based mental health settings. Currently, Dr. Bailliard is Co-Principal Investigator of a 5-year $2.4 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to design an innovative assertive outreach team to meet the needs of adults with serious mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  Dr. Bailliard is also a consultant for the Public Mental Health Partnership between the L.A. County Department of Mental Health and UCLA and a consultant and trainer for the Institute for Best Practices at the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Neuroplasticity Sensory Techniques to Change Muscle ToneSpeaker - Karen Pryor

Karen Pryor, PhD, PT, DPT, ND, CH, CPRCS (she/her)
Physical Therapist | Change the Brain -Body Follows

This patient has multiple tone challenges to address - where do you start? Join Dr. Karen Pryor, creator of unique pediatric Neuroplasticity programs, for this action-packed session loaded with clinical insight. A brain-based approach will be introduced to shape your evidence-based treatment plan. Additionally, you will get ideas for functional home programs to enhance compliance with family/caregiver support.

Learning Objectives:

  • Investigate findings of evaluations that will seamlessly lead to goals and positive outcomes through Neuroplasticity techniques to change tone
  • Categorize symptoms through brain-based relationships in the patient
  • Explain how to integrate strategies findings to the patient and caregivers for enhanced compliance with home programs
  • Describe simple techniques to change atypical tone to typical tone and more functional motion

Karen Pryor PhD, PT, DPT, ND, CH, CPRCS specializes in neuroplasticity.  With a firm belief, when you change the mind the body follows.  She is a physical therapist with 43 years of experience as well as being a Naturopathic Doctor.  Integration of multiple educational avenues has helped her design advance- programs for rewiring the brain of individuals of all ages. Karen is the Author of Ten Fingers Ten Toes Twenty Things Everyone Needs to Know available from Amazon and BookBaby. She received the “Outstanding Volunteer Service Award” from President Obama in 2010 for her work in advancing treatments in children.  She received an appointment 2014-2024 from Governor Bill Haslam and Governor Bill Lee to the Leadership Interagency Coordinating Council for birth to three-year old children in Tennessee.  Karen is an advisory for the Maori Foundation in Japan.  

She has achieved great success in helping children reach their potential. Treatment includes, neuroplasticity techniques and innovations that change the way the brain functions in children with challenges and adults post stroke or accident.  Rewiring or changing the routes of information, from vision going to the occipital lobes to the auditory cortex, so children could see through their ears. Developed techniques to change cerebral palsy tone, from spastic to approximate normal, so the children could walk without bracing or walkers. Children with Down syndrome to beat the averages, walk 12 – 16 months rather than 2 – 4 years.  Karen collaborated with her daughter Mica Foster chiropractor and developed a successful dyslexia program to orient letters and numbers for those children struggling with reading.  Karen and Mica have also given seminars on pediatric pain. 

Please join Karen as she shares knowledge with tools you can use.

Conversations with Sarah

Sarah Schoen, PhD, OTR/LSpeaker - Sarah Schoen
Director of Research
STAR Institute

Dr. Schoen is an occupational therapist with 30 years of clinical experience and a doctorate in occupational therapy from New York University (2001). She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship awarded by the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Department of Psychiatry, working with Dr. Lucy Jane Miller. During her fellowship she was awarded the Developmental Psychology Endowment Grant from the William T Grant foundation to study the Sensory Processing Scales, which she is co-developing and researching with Dr. Miller. Dr Schoen is currently an Associate Professor at the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and has served on multiple doctoral committees.  She also co-developed and teaches the monthly Advanced Mentorship trainings at the SPD Foundation. She is certified in Neurodevelopmental Treatment and has advanced training in Sensory Integration Therapy, Therapeutic Listening, and assistive technology. Dr. Schoen received the Recognition of Achievement Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association in 1997 and the Virginia Scardina Award of Excellence from the American Occupational Therapy Foundation in 2011.

Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen, PhDSpeaker - Yun-Ju Chen
McMaster University

Dr. Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University in Canada. She completed her Ph.D. in occupational science at the University of Southern California in 2021. Before coming to North America, she was a pediatric occupational therapist in Taiwan working with children and youth with special needs across settings. Her research interests revolve around the heterogeneous behavioral manifestations of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions across the lifespan with the application of a variety of quantitative methods.