2023 Virtual Summit Speakers


For questions, contact our Education Team at education@sensoryhealth.org.

$159 for Parents/Individuals*

Purchase Button

Program Information
CEU Information


Virginia Spielmann, PhD, OTR/L (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.

Panel Discussion: Neurodivergent Burnout

Learning Outcomes - After attending this panel discussion attendees will be able to:  

  • Analyze current issues with autistic treatment modalities  
  • Assemble a suite of resources that encourage autistic self-care occupations  
  • Differentiate autistic burnout from other forms of burnout  
  • Define both a scientific and a moral revolution  

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.

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, PhD(c), MA (She/They) (Co-Host)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

Let's Talk About Stimming

During this discussion, Morénike and Virginia will explore the many perspectives on 'stimming', including differing theoretical perspectives ranging from the core deficit theory of autism, the triad of impairments, and DSM criteria. They will present a dynamic reasoning tool that is designed to guide critical problem-solving and facilitate provision of respectful and individualized therapeutic supports. The long-term impact of failure to provide attuned support will also be discussed including the implications of allostatic load.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss the dangers of over-simplifying stims or RRBIs and placing all repetitive motor outputs in the same category.​
  • Describe at least three different possible causes for observable behaviors that look like “stimming”.
  • Describe why behaviors are not exclusively a form of communication.

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.

Competing Sensory Needs: When Compromise Is Not Always Logical

Shannon Rosa will discuss the often thorny and much-overlooked topic of competing sensory needs, what these access needs look like, surprising and overlooked ways these needs can manifest, why these needs are usually reasonable but not always resolvable—and how caregivers and other managers of competing access incidents can exhale, regroup, and keep on.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Define what competing sensory needs are and why they matter.
  • Explain the importance of self-care after a competing sensory needs incident and it's impact on overall health.
  • List three reasons why not all competing sensory needs issues can be resolved.

Rachael Thompson, BSc, PGCE with QTS, MSc Occupational Therapy, PGCert Sensory Integration Speaker - Rachael Thompson
Occupational Therapist
United Kingdom

Rachael has worked at independent specialist colleges and schools in the UK for over 10 years in roles including Tutor, Occupational Therapist, Head of Education, and Vice Principal. Rachael recently co-founded a small independent specialist school in the UK.

As an autistic individual and Occupational Therapist, Rachael utilizes personal and professional experience alongside the latest research to explore sensory processing differences and specifically how sensory processing differences can impact health, well-being, and quality of life.

 In-depth exploration of the Tactile System

In this presentation, Rachael will draw on her personal experience as an autistic individual, along with her professional knowledge as an occupational therapist to explore the impact of tactile processing differences amongst the autistic population. The presentation will focus on: 

  • Affective touch experiences and the relationship to attachment and bonding. 
  • The impact of tactile processing differences in relation to social interaction. 
  • The impact of tactile processing differences on concept of self. 

 Learning Outcomes: 

  • Identify the impact that tactile processing differences can have on interpersonal relationships. 
  • Be able to use information from the presentation to support validation of different tactile experiences. 
  • Be able to use information from the presentation to support development of person-centered strategies. 

Bec Secombe, MHlthScOT, GDipArtPsych, BAppScOTSpeaker - Rebecca Secombe
Occupational Therapist and Art Therapist

Bec is an OT, art therapist, artist, educator and advocate and has worked in private practice, the education system, the disability arts sector, and as a tertiary educator in Australia and Cambodia. She held a pioneering role as the first OT to be employed at a school in South Australia, and has been a clinical educator for the University of South Australia for over five years. Bec has developed programs for kids incorporating yoga, art and mindfulness, and has worked in mental health, Ayres sensory integration, and paediatrics. She works within a systemic family centred framework and is developing her own practice model loosely based on MoHO and KAWA called FOREST.  She has considerable post grad training, a masters in paediatric OT and a graduate diploma in arts psychotherapy, and has a particular interest in PDA, rejection and justice sensitivity, dismantling ableism and how we can use sensory 'glimmers' for wellbeing. She channels this through her own educational art graphics as The ND OT which have reached over 100,000 people. 

Sensory Glimmers as Restorative Practice

A Glimmer is a satisfying sensory delight that fills someone with fervent ecstasy. It is the opposite of a trigger (a stimulus perceived as threatening and unsafe). Autistic people often experience the sensory world with hyper-attunement, creative alliance and whimsy. This makes for a deliciously heightened sensory immersive experience when the stimulus makes the individual feel connected and safe. This presentation will explore how the autistic experience of glimmers is an important restorative practice for health and wellbeing using widely shared hand drawn images from The ND OT and a collation of anecdotes from neurodivergent individuals.
Learning Outcomes:
  • After participating in this training attendees will be able to define the key differences in the mechanism of a trigger and a glimmer
  • After participating in this training attendees will be able to identify three of their own personal sensory glimmers for restorative practice
  • After participating in this training attendees will be able to describe at least three benefits of glimmers for wellbeing in autistic people.

Iris Warchall, PT, DPT (she/her/hers) Speaker - Iris Warchall
Autistic Physical Therapist/ Advocate

Iris Warchall is an autistic self-advocate, parent to an autistic child, and physical therapist specializing in supporting individuals with a variety of the health conditions more prevalent among autistic people, including hypermobility spectrum conditions, pelvic health concerns, chronic pain, dizziness and vestibular dysfunction, and movement disorders. In addition to her clinical practice, Iris provides training on neurodiversity-affirming practice to physical therapists and other professionals. She is passionate about working to improve support for autistic individuals throughout the lifespan. 

The Interrelationship Between Sensory Processing and Posture 

Sensory integration and the development of postural control go hand in hand. Our individual sensory processing patterns affect our posture, and we are best able to assume functional and comfortable postures when our sensory needs are met. Professionals supporting autistic individuals with concerns related to posture must apply their clinical reasoning skills through the lens of the neurodiversity paradigm in order to provide the most effective support, because each person has their own unique set of sensory needs, sensorimotor developmental history, and optimal postural alignment to promote function and participation! 

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Discuss ways in which an individual’s sensory processing and integration can affect posture, and ways in which an individual’s posture can affect their sensory processing and integration 
  • List three reasons why clinicians should consider an individual's sensory needs when making recommendations to support posture
  • Describe considerations clinicians can take in order to use a neurodiversity-affirming approach when supporting autistic patients with functional concerns relating to posture 

Natasha Nelson, CPDESpeaker - Natasha Nelson
Certified Positive Discipline Educator

Natasha Nelson is a Certified Positive Discipline Educator(CPDE), highly decorated veteran, nonprofit founder, small business owner and Autistic mother to two autistic Black girls.

Natasha received her certification as a Positive Discipline Educator in the home, classroom, and early childhood education centers from the Positive Discipline Association in the year 2021. She created Supernova Momma LLC., a Black and Neurodiverse education resource for positive parenting, reparenting, social and emotional learning, and  Neurodivergence acceptance and support, to help Black and Neurodiverse families break generational curses from systemic racism and ableism and raise children in a mutually loving, empathetic, and respectful environment.

Natasha is currently a 2023-2024 trainee in The Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (GaLEND) program.

Natasha was chosen by The Autistic Self Advocacy Network as its 2022 recipient of the Creating Community Together Award.

Sensory Avoidance, Anxiety, and Late Diagnosis Due to Gender Norms

This conversation between Natasha Nelson (Supernova Momma) and Mim Ochsenbein (STAR Clinical Director) explores how gender norms have influenced perceptions of sensory integration differences and autism. The discussion examines the importance of interrogated culturally embedded preconceptions of gender and neurodivergence and how these can hinder delivery of truly person-centered care. 

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Discuss and define the influence of gender stereotypes on perceptions of functioning in neurodivergent individuals
  • Describe 2-3 specific issues associated with culturally embedded gender 'roles' in the provision of therapeutic supports to neurodivergent individuals 
  • Identify three changes that can be made to clinical practice to improve neurodiversity affirming care across gender presentations and sensory profiles

Sarah McCulloch, MSc Speaker - Sarah McCulloch
MSc, Founder of Autistic Empire
Autistic Self-Advocate
United Kingdom

Sarah McCulloch MSc is an autistic occupational therapist with experience across a range of acute mental health, community, and paediatric settings. She currently works as a municipal occupational therapist working in schools with children with Special Educational Needs. Her lived experience as an autistic adult and her professional experiences of finding unidentified autistic people in every service in which she worked led her to found the Autistic Empire in 2018. The Autistic Empire is an autistic social organisation built by and for autistic adults to form community based on autism as a civic identity and to provide practical tools and services for all autistic people. Sarah’s increasing professional focus is the importance and development of positive autistic identity. Sarah is based in London, UK.

Making Sense From The World: Integrating Sensory Experiences that Don’t Fit

How do you make sense of what you feel if you literally see the world differently to the people teaching you to interpret it? In this talk, Sarah McCulloch, an autistic occupational therapist, will identify reported sensory experiences common to autistic people that are rarely considered in clinical practice, and their implications for autistic lived experience, behaviour, and identity. 

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify three sensory differences that autistic people experience disproportionately to the neurotypical population
  • Assess the need of having autistic professionals workin in sensory integration-related sectors
  • Analyze a personal experience of working with autistic people where knowledge of sensory disruptions would have changed their clinical approach
  • Train colleagues in making use of autistic-led research

Endenne DuPree, OTR/L Speaker - Endenne DuPree
Nurture Collective

Endenné DuPree received her degree in occupational therapy from Howard University. She is working on obtaining a PhD in Infant & Early Childhood Development from Fielding Graduate University. Endenné has worked in a variety of pediatric settings for more than 15 years. Endenné’s areas of specialty include sensory processing and intervention across the lifespan, development of the young child and social-emotional development. In 2019, along with her business partner, Endenné formed Nurture Collective. Nurture Collective uses a two-generation approach to treat the child (birth to 5 years) with developmental delays in the context of the parent-child relationship. Nurture Collective screens caregivers for postpartum depression and those in need are connected with community resources. Nurture Collective provides support to families by offering traditional therapies (OT, PT, and ST), in addition to lactation and feeding therapy support. Other services include nutrition consultations, and developmental baby & caregiver classes.

The Sensory Integration Process

This presentation described the sensory integration process in relatable terms and outlined the principles for communication of complex health information following health literacy best practice when supporting neurodivergent clients.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the basic principles of health literacy and its importance.
  • Identify three strategies that make communicating complex issues easier.
  • Summarize the sensory integration process in relatable high-level language.
  • Develop relatable and accessible means of communicating the importance of differences in the sensory integration process for supporting health, wellness, and function when supporting neurodiverse clients.

Caroline Gaddy, MFA, MA CCC-SLP Speaker - Caroline Gaddy
Speech Language Pathologist

Caroline Gaddy, MFA, MA, CCC-SLP is an Autistic SLP and AAC Solutions Consultant based in Virginia. She is also a disability advocate and neurodiversity educator who has presented at state and national conferences. She has worked in clinical and school-based settings as an SLP and teacher, and is passionate about communication access, disability justice, and inclusion. Caroline is also a mom to two spectacular neurodivergent kids.

Gestalt Language Processing Through the Regulation Lens

Language acquisition in neurodivergent populations can be different than that of neurotypical peers. This presentation reviewed gestalt language processing and analytic language processing. It compared the first three stages of natural language acquisition across populations and discussed the relationship of arousal on communication development.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Compare the differences between gestalt language processing and analytic language processing
  • Describe the role of echolalia in meaningful communication
  • Define the first three stages of natural language acquisition
  • Identify the relationship between state arousal and communication

Carrie Alvarado, PhD, OTR Speaker - Carrie Alvarado
Chief Operating Officer
Autism Community Network

Dr. Carrie Alvarado serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Autism Community Network (ACN), which is a non-profit in San Antonio Texas that provides autism diagnostic and peri-diagnostic support for families of children 0-6 years of age. Carrie has a PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on Infant Mental Health and Developmental Disorders. Dr. Alvarado was the first in the United States to become a Pediatric Autism Communication Therapy (PACT) Accredited Practitioner. She serves as an Associate with PACT UK. Carrie is a DIR®Floortime™ Certified Expert Clinician, and she serves as an Assistant Faculty for the Profectum™ Foundation. 

Dr. Alvarado also serves as the lead for the Clinical Advisory Committee for STAR Institute, in Colorado. Dr. Alvarado is passionate about building bridges where none yet exist, about innovating and expanding the boundaries of our knowledge, and about meeting families and fellow clinicians where they are and empowering them to find the gifts they all have to give.

Sociosensory Development and Caregiver Attunement

Dr. Carrie Alvarado will delineate some of the barriers that caregivers can face in attuning to their differently developing young children and how caregiver anxiety can shift the developmental trajectory for caregiver and child alike. She will delve deep into the neurodiverse dyad and support participants in discovering the influences that an attuned caregiver can have in serving as a buffer for sensoriaffective signaling, promoting sociosensory development, in their young children.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. After participating in this session, attendees should be able to describe how integrated, bidirectional sensoriaffective signal sending and receiving shapes sociosensory development for all children and how it can be disrupted in neurodiverse infants and toddlers.
  2. After participating in this session, attendees should be able to identify various barriers to attunement that are common in caregivers raising neurodiverse children.
  3. After participating in this session, attendees should be able to incorporate into their own practice three evidence-based strategies that support caregiver attunement, and thus sociosensory development in children.

Robyn Steward Speaker - Robyn Steward
Autistic Educator & Advocate

I am Autistic and have been delivering fun, informative, and practical Training to professionals and parent/support groups for over 15 years. I have written 3 books The Independent Woman’s Handbook for Super Safe Living on the Autistic Spectrum, The Autism Friendly Guide to Periods, and The Autism Friendly Guide to self-employment. I am a Co-Host of BBC Sound’s 1800 seconds on Autism. I am interested in other people's experiences and have co-authored a few academic papers. I have 9 other disabilities. I came out of school with no GCSE’s.

I am also a musician and have performed around the world but have a regular residency at Cafe OTO in east London.

The Autism-Friendly Guide to Periods

In this presentation, author Robyn Steward will talk about difficulties that Autistic people might experience when starting and managing periods. Robyn will offer strategies that can help make periods more bearable. Robyn will share practical tools and takeaways for professionals and individuals.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify common issues experienced by autistic people who have periods
  • Define 2-3 tools that are supportive for autistic people who are menstruating
  • Explain why sensory issues may be experienced by autistic people when menstruating
  • Compare and contrast how gender identity can affect people who menstruate