Praxis & Motor Mastery: Decoding Dyspraxia and Apraxia

Livestream: $789

September 10 - October 1, 2024
Weekly | 8:00AM - 12:15PM MT

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This includes all course readings, resources, and weekly live-streamed sessions.

Delve into the intricate world of motor development and movement differences with our specialized course. This short course illuminates the foundational concepts of praxis development and motor skill acquisition, providing you with the knowledge to support and enhance motor learning as part of your practice. Through lectures, case studies, and discussions, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how individuals develop coordination, motor planning, and motor execution skills, which are crucial for effective interaction with the environment and development of sense of self. 

Part of the course will focus on demystifying the motor apraxia profile. This term has come from speech and language terminology regarding individuals with motor-speech differences that result in decreased intelligibility, unreliable speech, or non-speaking profiles. Speech is a motor output and these motor differences do not just affect speech and communication—we will be exploring the whole body impacts of the praxis profile and influence on occupation and participation.

As the course progresses, we will focus on distinguishing between dyspraxia profiles which are often conflated yet distinct populations. We will learn to identify the nuanced differences in dyspraxia and discuss practical and applicable strategies to start using in the sensory gym immediately. In addition, we will explore the unique features of motor apraxia, such as disinhibited motor outputs, motor looping, and challenges with purposeful motor actions, which often manifest in non-speaking or inconsistently speaking individuals. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to tailor your therapeutic interventions, improving outcomes for those facing these profound motor challenges. 

  • Defining Motor Disinhibition: We will define motor disinhibition as it relates motor apraxia, where the limbic system may override intentional motor commands, leading to involuntary movements. This disinhibition can result in actions that are inconsistent with the person's actual intentions.  

  • Understanding Motor Loops: Participants will learn about motor loops — repetitive or involuntary motor behaviors. We will discuss the neural circuits involved, their potential impact on behavior, and strategies for differentiation from intentional movements.  

  • The Importance of State Regulation: We'll delve into the significance of state regulation — the ability to manage physiological arousal and emotional states — to support individuals with motor apraxia. Effective state regulation is crucial for reducing the impact of motor apraxia and improving the consistency of intentional movements.  

  • Assessing Cognitive Ability and Intent: The webinar will critique methods for assessing cognitive abilities and discuss strategies for discerning true preferences in the face of motor apraxia. It will address the challenges of following the child's lead when motor outputs may not accurately reflect their intentions.  

  • Sensory Integration Strategies: We will highlight specific sensory integration strategies that are effective for this population. These strategies not only accommodate the unique challenges of motor apraxia but also engage children at a cognitively challenging level, promoting their active participation and learning.  

  • Interactive Approaches and Assessments: Participants will be equipped with interactive strategies to engage individuals meaningfully, ensuring that assessments and interventions are respectful of true cognitive ability and personal interests, despite the presence of motor disinhibition and loops.  

  • Advance Professional Competence in Addressing Motor Planning Challenges: Participants will develop strategies to enhance their professional competence and effectiveness in supervising and delivering occupational therapy services focused on motor planning challenges. This includes fostering a culture of continuous learning and development through the critical evaluation of emerging research, trends, and practices in praxis development, and advocating for the role of occupational therapy in addressing the complex needs of individuals with motor apraxia and dyspraxia.  

  • Embrace and Implement Neurodiversity-Affirming Practices: Participants will be able to critically analyze and integrate contemporary issues and trends in neurodiversity-affirming practices within occupational therapy. This includes developing and applying strategies that respect and celebrate neurodiverse individuals' strengths and differences, particularly those with motor apraxia and dyspraxia, to promote inclusion, participation, and empowerment in all aspects of life and therapy.  

Learning Objectives: As a result of this session participants will be able to:

  • Accurately and specifically describe praxis as it relates to action and motor outputs.
  • Differentiate at least three different dyspraxia profiles.
  • Define three new strategies to use in child-led therapy that honor the intent of the child with dyspraxia.
  • Definite motor apraxia in autism as more than a speech and language disorder.
  • Identify 1-2 new strategies for establishing genuine interests versus body-based impulses.
  • Define and describe the importance of differentiating disinhibition and microexpressions of volition.
  • Analyze how play and playful movement are occupation as means and end. 
  • Compare and contrast play-occupations and movement activities designed to address the underlying needs of the client and thus enable engagement in age-appropriate occupations. 

Agenda - Download a copy of the full course overview here

Instructional Methods - PowerPoint Lecture

Who Should Attend

Clinicians interested in understanding the link between Dyspraxia, Apraxia and sensory integration and processing and its impact on occupation.

Level: Intermediate

Attendance Requirements

The course will be available as distance-learning interactive (live-streamed sessions) and distance-learning independent (video recordings). Video recordings are typically accessible to all participants within a week after each session and should be reviewed in the case of a planned or unplanned absence.

To receive a CEU Certificate a brief CEU quiz must be completed and passed within 30 days after the course. Passing is getting at least an 80% score. Individuals who do not meet both requirements will not receive AOTA or ASHA CEUs. No partial credit will be provided.

Have questions or interested in group registration?
Contact for more information.

If you are part of an organization or community with 30+ clinicians who are interested in this course, please contact us directly at to discuss private course offerings and pricing.

Presenter: Virginia Spielmann, PhD, OTR/L
ICDL Advisory Board, Colorado State University Affiliate Faculty, Salem State University Visiting Assistant Professor

Virginia Spielmann is an Occupational Therapist and the Executive Director of STAR Institute for Sensory Processing. She obtained her PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development in August 2021 and is a Visiting Adjunct Faculty at Salem State University Occupational Therapy Department and Affiliate Faculty at Colorado State Department of Occupational Therapy. She is a published author, researcher, and well-traveled and masterful public speaker.

Dr. Spielmann delivered a TEDx Mile High (Denver, Co) talk in December 2021. She consults on television and other media projects; co-founded & authored the Critical Core therapeutic role-playing game; and co-developed the Palaana sensory lounger with SLACK Lifestyle.

Dr. Spielmann still actively provides direct occupational therapy services, mentors therapists and clinicians from around the world, and provides direct support to infant mental health and early childhood teams. Her extensive clinical experience includes autism, differences in sensory integration/processing, infant mental health, adoption, foster-care, developmental trauma, and physical disabilities. Dr Spielmann’s areas of special interest include professional reflection and reflective practice, neurodiversity affirming care, trauma informed care, and epistemologies and ontologies of health care.

Virginia is affiliate faculty at Colorado State University, Occupational Therapy Department and Visiting Assistant Professor at Salem State University.

Virginia has considerable post-graduate training, she is certified on the SIPT. She obtained her Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on mental health, from Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara (2021). Her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee (2018) and her BSc in Occupational Therapy from Oxford Brookes University, England (2002).

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:
Financial: The presenter is the Executive Director of the STAR Institute and this presentation was created as a part of her salaried position.
Nonfinancial: Nothing to disclose

Cancellation Policy

All registrations must be finalized or cancelled for a full refund 30 days prior to the course. Registrations cancelled less than 30 days prior to the course may be substituted or deferred to a future course sponsored by STAR Institute. Staff must be notified of substitutions at least 24 hours before the start of the event. Registrations cancelled due to a family emergency or other unexpected event, or illness will be deferred to a future course sponsored by STAR Institute.

In the event this program must be cancelled due to illness, fire, strikes, war, acts of God, terrorism or other causes that would prevent the event from taking place, STAR Institute will attempt to reschedule the event. If the event is unable to be rescheduled, STAR Institute will refund all tuition fees paid.

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