2023 Sensory Health in Early Childhood Speakers

$129 Regular Tickets
Through November 16

November 2, 9, & 16, 2023

Thursdays | 8:00AM-12:00PM MT

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Presentation Details
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AOTA CEUs will be available as an add-on of $45.

Mim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L (She/Her)
Clinicial Director | STAR Institute

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.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Mim is the clinical director at the STAR Institute
  • There are no other relevant financial or non-financial relationships to disclose

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

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.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Virginia is the executive director at the STAR Institute
  • There are no other relevant financial or non-financial relationships to disclose

Kris Pizur-Barnekow, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, IMH-E®
Associate Professor | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Dr. Kris Pizur-Barnekow is second generation American whose family immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s from Slovakia. She is associate professor emeritus in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Continuous Quality Improvement Lead at the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health and a reflective consultant for Nurture Collective. 
In addition, she is endorsed by the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health as an Infant and Family Specialist and is the founder of Families First, LLC. In 2003, she graduated from her doctoral studies with a focus on maternal-infant attachment and bonding and early childhood development. She has co-authored 34 papers, 10 book chapters and 80 presentations related to early childhood. Kris identifies as a white cisgender female who has a deep understanding of how her privilege enabled her family to climb out of poverty within one generation. She embraces diversity, equity and inclusion in her practice and believes that multiple perspectives enhance and enrich everyone’s lives.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Financial: Kris was paid a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: nothing to disclose


Kaitlyn Darbe, OTR/L (she/her)
Occupational Therapist | STAR Institute

Kaitlyn graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. She then graduated top of her class from Midwestern University with her Masters in Occupational Therapy. During her time as a student, Kaitlyn completed a clinical rotation at Gundersen Health Systems working in the pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit. There she collaborated with a multidisciplinary team to provide education, treatment, plan of care, and discharge recommendations to patients. She then completed a clinical rotation at the STAR Institute furthering her understanding of sensory integration, regulation, and the STAR treatment approach. Kaitlyn soon realized her passion for working with children with Disordered Sensory Processing and the play-based, relationship-focused model.

Prior to joining the STAR Institute, Kaitlyn has experience working with clients in inpatient acute care, inpatient mental health, hippotherapy, and outpatient pediatric settings. Kaitlyn prioritizes building relationships with families through trust, respectful interaction, and communication. Her interests include early intervention and providing inclusive, trauma-informed care in a neurodiverse affirming setting. She has taken courses to expand her knowledge on trauma-informed care and sensory integration. She is a member of both national and state organizations to promote lifelong learning. Kaitlyn is committed to fostering and providing inclusive and equitable therapy across the lifespan.

Kaitlyn is one of STAR's first Occupational Therapy Fellows-in-Training.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Kaitlyn is an occupational therapist at STAR Institute
  • Financial: Some of the information presented was developed as a part of a grant with the Get Grounded Foundation
  • Non-financial: nothing to disclose

Ariel Harris, OTD (She/her)
Occupational Therapist | STAR Institute

Ariel graduated from the University of Florida with her Bachelor of Science in Health Education in 2018 and received her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2022. During her time at the University of Florida, Ariel was an active member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association and the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity, where she was able to enhance her understanding of various aspects of the field of occupational therapy including the importance of learning about diversity and striving for cultural humility. Ariel was selected to be an INSPIRE scholar through the University of Florida OT program, where she was provided additional training in early intervention services and early childhood treatment with a multidisciplinary team. Ariel has always had a passion for sensory integration and working with a pediatric population. Her passion began during one of her first experiences working with therapists who focus on sensory integration. This fostered her desire to understand the sensory systems and how to integrate them into treatment methods to assure individuals have maximum opportunity to reach their potential. Prior to joining the STAR team, Ariel had experience working with patients in inpatient acute care, outpatient pediatrics, hand therapy, and inpatient pediatric settings. She completed her final capstone project at the STAR Institute, which allowed her to learn STAR’s treatment protocol and to partake in ongoing research projects. She is beyond excited to take the knowledge she gained from her capstone experience and apply it as an OT fellow. Ariel enjoys hiking, reading, and baking for fun.

Ariel is one of STAR's first Occupational Therapy Fellows-in-Training.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Ariel is an occupational therapist at STAR Institute
  • Financial: Some of the information presented was developed as a part of a grant with the Get Grounded Foundation
  • Non-financial: nothing to disclose

Carrie Dishlip, CCC-SLP (she/her)
Speech Language Pathologist | STAR Institute

Carrie received her Master of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Arizona in 2004. Prior to joining STAR Institute, Carrie worked in Southern California and practiced in several different pediatric settings including a multidisciplinary SPD clinic, public schools, a hospital-based mental health treatment program, and private practice clinics.  She served as an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) specialist and has experience developing and running social skills programs.   Carrie has taken the University of Southern California Advanced Training in Sensory Integrative Dysfunction and is PROMPT trained and Hanen Certified.  She has led professional and parent workshops on social skills and AAC and has run the Hanen It Takes Two to Talk® and PROMPT PARENT/CAREGIVER® workshops.  Carrie loves the outdoors and is excited for all the adventures Colorado has to offer.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Carrie is a speech pathologist at STAR Institute
  • Financial: nothing to disclose
  • Non-financial: Carrie has family members with sensory and speech diagnoses

Anna Miller, OTR/L (she/her)
Occupational Therapist

Anna graduated from Murray State University with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, then directly went on to earn a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Tennessee State University in 2012. Since that time, she has worked in a variety of settings including acute hospital care, long term sub-acute, and home health. She moved toward being a full time pediatric therapist in 2014. She has become DIR Floortime certified and has taken Level 1 STAR mentorship. She then joined the STAR team in 2021. Her special interests include pelvic health, in which she has additional training with pediatric pelvic health, as well as interception training. Anna is also passionate about providing occupational therapy to underserved populations in the world. She has been able to serve on several medical mission trips in Haiti, Nicaragua, Thailand, Vietnam, and Ukraine. She is an active member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). 

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Financial: Anna received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: nothing to disclose

Lori Annes, PhD PT
Physical Therapist | Can DO Kids Inc.

Lori Annes, Ph.D. PT has been a physical therapist for 45 years. She has certifications in Neurodevelopmental Treatment [NDT] Pediatrics and Advanced Baby Course.

Earlier in her career in the mid-1980s, she was fortunate to study under Dr. A. Jean Ayres, venturing into the world of Sensory Integration. As one of the few PTs with an interest in Sensory Integration challenges, Dr. Ayres allowed Lori to study with her in the USC four-month training program.

Dr. Annes completed her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, with specialization in Learning Disabilities at Northwestern University. She also completed the USC Chan Sensory Integration Continuing Education (CE) Certificate Program in 2017, as well as the STAR Institute’s Level I Intensive Mentorship program in 2018 and studied with Dr. Kay Toomey for many years.

Dr. Annes additionally completed the 200 IAYT Yoga Therapy Certification and enjoys incorporating yoga and meditation into her work with children and their parents with Sensory Processing difficulties and Anxiety.

Dr. Annes has a passion and clinical interest in young children with early signs of pediatric anxiety under the age of three: an area with which, to date, most pediatricians have minimal understanding.

Dr. Annes was the owner and clinical director of Can Do Kids, Inc. a multi-disciplinary clinic for PT, OT and Speech in Los Angeles, CA for over 40 years: She is currently co-authoring a book intended to help parents, physicians, mental health professionals, and allied health professionals better understand the complex presentation of Autism and pediatric Anxiety. She hopes to demystify the co-morbid presentations of each and help to better distinguish the nuances of these unique, separate medical diagnoses.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Lori Annes is a physical therapist and the owner of Can Do Kids clinic
  • Financial: Lori received a stipend for his presentation
  • Non-financial: Lori is a member of NDTA

Eunice Lee, RSW (she/her)
Social Worker

Eunice is a Registered Social Worker with dual Master's degrees in Social Work and Special Education from Columbia University and Bank Street College of Education. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Developmental Psychology and Education from University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Throughout her 20+ year career, Eunice has worked in various educational, therapeutic, and research settings supporting children and adolescents 0 to 18 years of age. Currently, she focuses her clinical practice on individuals experiencing difficulties with regulation, interaction, attention, play, and social emotional development using individual therapy, dyadic work, and parent coaching. Eunice was part of the interdisciplinary treatment team at York University's Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative studying the efficacy of a developmental play-based coaching model for young children with autism. 

Eunice is a Training Leader with the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning completing her Expert certificate in DIRFloortime® certification in 2010. She provides in-person and distance mentorship and supervision to educators and therapists currently working towards their certification. Eunice is dedicated to building and growing the DIR® community in Toronto – she has presented for school boards, organizations, and conferences across Canada, United States, South America, and China.   

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Eunise is a licensed social worker
  • Financial: Eunise was paid a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: Eunise is a training leader at ICDL who also sponsored this workshop

Erin Ross, SLP
Speech Language Pathologist | Feeding Fundamentals

Dr. Erin Ross received her Ph.D from the University of Colorado in 2007, followed by a 2-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Section of Nutrition at the University of Colorado Denver.  Her Master’s Degree is in Speech and Language Pathology, from California State University Stansilaus, which she received in 1988.  Dr. Ross is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Colorado and is on faculty at the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. She has authored several book chapters and publications related to normal feeding development, feeding preterm infants, infants with medical comorbidities, and children with pediatric feeding disorder (PFD).  Dr. Ross provides clinical consultation to several NICUs within the HealthONE system in Denver, in addition to providing professional education and research consultation through Feeding Fundamentals.  She created SOFFI®, a training program for caregivers in the NICU and in Early Intervention. Dr. Ross also teaches the SOS Approach to Feeding, created by Dr. Kay Toomey.  Across her career she has treated infants and young children in hospital, clinic and home settings and brings 30 years of experience.  Her perspective crosses over the initial hospitalization through the first 5 years of life. 

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Erin is a licensed speech pathologist and infant feeding specialist
  • Financial: She is creator of the SOFFI® and is receiving a stipend for this presentation, she has authored books on feeding development and Pediatric Feeding Disorder
  • Non-Financial: Erin disclosed a professional bias toward Infant-Led feeding

Renee Allen, MS, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist | ROOTS Pediatric Occupational Therapy

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 expert training leader certification in DIR /Floortime through the International Council on Development and Learning (ICDL).  She has been teaching as Faculty for STAR Institute since 2015. She also supervises other OTs around the country.  Renee 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. To further her ability to support families, Renee is currently working toward a Masters in Social Work from Metropolitan State University.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Renee is a licensed occupational therapist and a faculty member at STAR Institute
  • Financial: Renee is the author of Joey’s Heart (not the focus of this presentation), she received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: Nothing to disclose

Michele Parkins, MS, OTR
Occupational Therapist | Great Kids Place

Michele Parkins is an Occupational Therapist specializing in working with children and families with Sensory Processing and Integration Disorder and challenges in social emotional development as the Founder and Director of Great Kids Place in New Jersey. Michele is faculty of STAR Institute, teaching Levels 1 and 2 Intensive Mentorships and STAR Proficiency Certification Levels 1 and 2. She is SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Test) certified. Michele has co-authored two chapters and is contributing to research articles related to sensory processing and social emotional development.

Michele has Advanced Certification in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. She is DIR certified and is faculty of Profectum Foundation where she educates therapists all over the world on social-emotional development and the DIR model. She works closely with the New Jersey Association of Infant Mental Health providing training for early childhood workers on the impact of sensory processing differences on emotional regulation and relational health with caregivers and peers.

Michele’s passion lies in the use of play and affective interactions to facilitate social emotional development alongside sensory motor capacities.  She has developed a play model reflecting this passion that is used in her practice – Great Kids Place. She advocates for all children and families impacted by Sensory Processing and Integration Disorder to help them and others to understand the impact of differences in sensory processing on social emotional development and well-being, including challenges in emotional regulation, developing and maintaining relationships and social skills. Michele is also a mother of two children with sensory processing differences. She uses her real life experiences to help her clients better understand the impact of SPD on family dynamics and relationships and the day to day demands of life with sensory processing differences.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Michelle is a licensed occupational therapist, owner of Great Kids Place and a faculty member at STAR Institute
  • Financial: Information presented is based on a model/concept that she created
  • Non-financial: Nothing to disclose

AnnMarie Murphy, MSOT
Adjunct Professor | Temple University

AnnMarie Murphy is an Occupational Therapist with advanced training and certification from the Sensory Treatment and Research (STAR) Institute, specializing in the evaluation and treatment of Sensory Processing Disorder. AnnMarie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from American International College as well as a Post-Professional Doctorate from Temple University.

AnnMarie’s primary research area focuses on the underlying neurological basis of Sensory Processing Disorder, and its foundational impact on anxiety, pain, chronic conditions and relationships.  Outside of her clinical work at Great Kids Place, AnnMarie is an Adjunct Professor, Level II OT Fieldwork Supervisor, and was a Doctoral Capstone Research Advisor at Temple University. AnnMarie was recently nominated by the governor of New Jersey to hold an Occupational Therapy Advisory Council position. She hopes to use this position to advocate for the role of occupational therapy in supporting mental health, and the use of telehealth.

AnnMarie is an avid reader, enjoys playing and exploring the outdoors with her son, and golfing with her husband.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • AnnMarie is a licensed occupational therapist
  • Financial: AnnMarie received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: AnnMarie has a family member with sensory processing differences


Maura Mooneyham, OTL
Occupational Therapist, Certified Lactation Counselor

Maura is an Occupational Therapist, Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), and mom of 3 in the Denver, Colorado area. She specializes in sensory processing, mother and baby dyads, pre and post frenectomy care, and regulation. She worked at the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing for over 13 years before starting her own practice in 2022. She uses Tummy Time!Method, her extensive background in sensory processing, NDT training and training focused on pre and post frenectomy care for babies going through frenectomy. Maura is passionate about empowering families, helping support families, collaborating with other disciplines, and providing the most up to date evidence based treatments. Maura loves to run, sew, travel, and cheer on her kids!

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Maura is a licensed occupational therapist
  • Financial: Maura received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: Nothing to disclose

Erin Schneider
Founder and CEO of Mountain Summit Coaching 

Erin is the founder and CEO of Mountain Summit Coaching. The mother of an autistic son, Erin is intimately familiar with the obstacles and challenges families face getting the right help for their neurodivergent children. Backed by extensive personal and professional experience, and aligned with a vast network of providers and services, Erin understands what families are going through and what tools are available to support them. As a parent coach, Erin is passionate about giving families the tools and support they need to find success, not only for their neurodivergent child, but for parents and siblings, as well. She has shared her expertise and presented for many groups focused on helping children and adults with disabilities. Erin is based in Colorado and offers her parent coaching services nationwide.

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Erin is the founder and CEO of Mountain Summit Coaching
  • Financial: Erin received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: Nothing to disclose

Meghan Ashburn
Educational consultant, parent mentor, and co-author

Meghan Ashburn is an educational consultant, parent mentor, and co-author of the upcoming book, I WIll Die On This Hill. She's passionate about inclusion and communication rights. Her website, Not An Autism Momis loaded with resources to help educators and parents support Autistic children inside and outside the classroom. 

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Meghan is an educational consultant, parent mentor, and co-author
  • Financial: Meghan received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: Nothing to disclose

Nic King (She/they) 
Director of PANDASonline and creator of NeuroBears 

Nic King is chairperson of a local youth charity for neurodiverse children Happy Faces Prudhoe. More importantly, she is Zoe's Mum and supporting her in Zap advocacy project. As a family, all of which are diagnosed with some sort of neurodiversity, we are passionate about making the lives of Autistic people better by creating safe and comfortable spaces for autistic people to get the best out of their lives and themselves. 

Presenter Disclosures:

  • Nic is chairperson of a local youth charity for neurodiverse children
  • Financial: Nic received a stipend for this presentation
  • Non-financial: Nothing to disclose