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.
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.
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
Kayla has more than 10 years of experience with children, adolescents, and their families. She has supported clients in private clinics, an outpatient pediatric hospital, and school settings. Prior to working at STAR Institute, Kayla worked in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative team at a nationally recognized children’s hospital as well as a relationship-based school serving individuals with complex sensory-motor, communication, and learning differences.
Kayla’s treatment lens is rooted in relationships, building trust through respectful interactions, and presuming competence with the individuals she works with. She has received training in therapy for Sensory Integration/Processing differences, including Mentorship with the STAR Institute. She is trained in DIR/Floortime, Integrated Listening Systems (iLs), Autism Fitness, the social model of disability, and supporting individuals who have trouble producing reliable speech and those who are non-speaking through Spelling to Communicate.
Kayla is committed to the neurodiversity paradigm and provision of neurodiversity affirming therapies across the lifespan and in every context. She is an ally and is always learning.
Eden Spofford lives in Long Island and is currently a senior at Jericho High School. In addition to her academic classes which have concentrated in STEM areas (she intends to major in biomedical engineering in college), Eden has been able to pursue a series of photography courses throughout her years in high school, exploring film photography, darkroom developing, and digital photography. Through these activities, she became fascinated with the idea that, in collaboration with her younger brother who is on the Autism spectrum, she could create images that might be able to provide a window into some of the different ways he perceives and interacts with the world around him.
Cole Spofford lives on Long Island and is a freshman at Winston Preparatory School, a private school offering individualized education for students with a variety of learning differences. Besides modeling for his sister’s photos, he enjoys playing video games, building Legos, watching superhero movies, telling the kinds of inappropriate jokes that teenage boys find hilarious and acting. He is currently the lead in his school's production of Our Town, and he hopes to become an actor.
Becky Lee joined Rehabilitative Rhythms in 2018 as a music therapist, supporting individuals with a variety of needs. She completed her clinical training at Professional Child Development Associates where she was trained in the use of the DIR Floortime Model with children and families. Becky completed her master’s degree in music therapy from Illinois State University. She is passionate about utilizing family-centered and play-based approaches in her sessions.
Sarah Hallgrimson joined Rehabilitative Rhythms in 2021 as a music therapist. She completed her clinical training at Cortica in San Diego, CA, a clinic specializing in the treatment of autism and other sensory disorders. Sarah is a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) through the IBCCES, as well as a certified Music Together within Therapy instructor. Sarah completed her master’s degree in music therapy from Colorado State University.
Jane Green is a professional educationalist, ex Assistant Headteacher and now advocates on autism and Ehlers-Danlos/ hypermobility with published articles and blogs. She recently submitted a manuscript on this topic. She led the content for first hypermobility school toolkit and publishes many articles and blogs for educational psychologists and other organisations. She sits on various panels and Boards from training medical doctors to social workers and teachers. She also advocates in employment and transport accessibility. She is Founder/Chair of the award winning SEDS, a hypermobility EDS diverse charitable group focusing on these areas. For more information about SEDS, visit https://www.sussexeds.com/.
Anand Prahlad, PhD, MA
Professor / Author
Anand Prahlad has published two books of poems, Hear My Story and Other Poems and As Good As Mango, as well as publishing poems and creative nonfiction in literary journals such as Fifth Wednesday, Water~Stone Review, Copper Nickle, Pleiades, The Chariton Review, and Natural Bridge. He recently completed a new collection of poetry, Hijra, which focuses on black third-gender identity.
Prahlad is a folklorist and a fellow in the American Folklore Society. He has published critical articles and books on black folklore and proverbs, including Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music and African American Proverbs in Context. He edited the three-volume set The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore and the one-volume The Greenwood Student Encyclopedia of African American Folklore.
Prahlad is a songwriter and musician who plays multiple instruments, including the mbira from the Shona people of Zimbabwe. He released an original blues CD, Hover Near, in 2008 and is working on a second CD. He is a cofounder of the Chiyedza Mbira Ensemble, which has performed throughout the United States with internationally renowned artists such as Musekiwa Chingodza.
Prahlad holds an MA and a PhD in folklore studies and sociolinguistics from UC Berkeley and UCLA. He is director of creative writing at the University of Missouri, where teaches folklore, film, creative writing, and disability studies and has earned numerous major teaching awards.
Erin Schneider is the owner and founder of Mountain Summit Consulting, a service designed to deliver individual assistance to families seeking the best interventions, providers, and support for children and adults with disabilities. She is the mother of a son with autism and understands the challenges parents face. Erin puts her experience, expertise, and network of providers to work, taking time to understand each client's needs and matching them up with a short list of qualified providers best suited to help.
Elizabeth Vosseller, SLP/ S2C
Elizabeth Vosseller has worked with individuals with complex communication and sensory-motor differences since 1995 in hospital, university, and private practice settings. In 2013, she began using Assistive Technology to teach students the purposeful motor skills to Spell to Communicate (S2C). Teaching motor versus cognition to access communication, meaningful education and inclusion has been transformative for nonspeaking individuals. “26 letters equals infinite possibilities!” Since witnessing countless nonspeaking, minimally and unreliably speaking individuals successfully communicate and learn through spelling and typing, Elizabeth is committed to ensuring ALL nonspeaking individuals have access to communication through training, education, advocacy, and research. Elizabeth is the Director of Growing Kids Therapy Center and is honored to serve as the Executive Director for International Association for Spelling as Communication (I-ASC).
Marge Blanc has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for 45 years, working as a public school clinician, a Clinical Associate Professor, and an SLP in a clinic she designed to support sensorimotor development. She conducted clinical research as part of her service delivery, documenting gestalt language development in a wide variety of clients, primarily autistic children. Her longitudinal findings described and quantified the stages of gestalt language development outlined by Barry Prizant and other researchers, and were published in Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: the Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language in 2012. Now in its sixth printing, the book was endorsed by Barry Prizant as “…the most comprehensive consideration of echolalia and language characteristics of persons with autism to date…(which) brings us back to a crucial understanding of language characteristics and language acquisition in ASD…” Marge has presented numerous workshops and webinars, and has authored three NLA courses with Northern Speech Services, the heart of which will be included in this presentation.
Amy Grant is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist in Texas. After gaining experience in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and outpatient pediatric clinics, Amy opened the Therapy Center of Buda (TCOB) in 2009. TCOB serves neurodivergent pediatric populations through an interdisciplinary team of speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists. Amy serves as the Clinic Director and senior SLP. She practices family-centered, child-led, trauma-sensitive therapy that embraces the Neurodiversity Paradigm, with foundational dedication to serving her clients and families with compassion and respect as well as advocating for social rights issues. Amy is also a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist and has a special interest in Autism and ADHD. She received extensive training on administering the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and provides extensive neurodiversity-affirming, strength-based diagnostics as part of a team to identify Autistic individuals and/or provide second opinions from the unique perspective of a neurodivergent SLP that Embraces neurodiversity. She has a particular interest in empowering others to self-advocate and provides access to alternative forms of communication, without prerequisites. Core aspects of her practice include providing counsel, access, and support for families to apply for social services in grants; helping caregivers to maneuver the school system and empowering them to be strong advocates for their child and/or themselves, and providing education to families about diagnosis, the Neurodiversity Paradigm, and evidence-based therapies.
Additionally, she serves as the Chairperson of the Member Advocacy Committee under the VP for Social and Governmental Affairs for The Texas Speech-Language Hearing Association. In her spare time, she enjoys advocating for neurodiversity-affirming schooling options, promoting safe and equitable education for all, and guest lecturing.
Caroline Braun is an Autistic speech-language pathologist specializing in the treatment of complex motor speech, language, and feeding needs. Her experiences with neurodivergent adults and children in medical and educational settings inspired her to start a neurodiversity-affirming private practice as an alternative to the behavioral clinics prevalent in her area. Caroline is an aspiring researcher with a special interest in responsive feeding therapy and affirming, parent-mediated supports. She is passionate about raising awareness of traumatizing feeding practices and advocating for neurodivergent-affirming approaches to feeding therapy.
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.
Ira is a nonbinary, white, multiply disabled autistic adult who found out they were autistic during graduate school and then found the online autistic community. They graduated recently with a Masters in Neuroscience and have spent several years writing about their late diagnosis, educating parents of autistic kids, and helping autistic people understand themselves, as Autistic Science Person.
They have consulted for researchers, consulted as a sensitivity reader, and presented talks on autism and auditory conditions to autism professionals. They were an active member of the disability student group at their university, advocating for increased accessibility on campus, including physical, sensory, and other disabilities. They love to talk about alexithymia and sensory sensitivities in general. In their free time, they enjoy playing computer games with their online friend group.