Welcome to the 2021 STAR Sensory Symposium

We are excited to invite you to our upcoming ONLINE, interactive Sensory Symposium, this November. This event is dedicated to understanding the connections between neuroception, safety, and sensory health through research and evidence-based practice. The term "Neuroception" describes how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening. This analysis has a tremendous impact on how we perceive and interact with the world around us. As clinicians, we understand that trauma changes the brain and the way we process sensory information and the neural level. This often makes us more sensitive or over-responsive, making it impossible for an individual to feel safe. Feeling safe within one's environment and self is necessary for the development of physiological and emotional regulation, sustaining relationships, and much more throughout the lifespan of an individual. 

Throughout this 2.5-day virtual event, we will be examining the role of trauma in sensory processing, the expansion and application Polyvagal Theory in correlation to sensory processing, and make a deep exploration of the sensory systems and other various systemic influences. We will discuss the impacts on our brain and behavior and, consequentially, on our sensory health. We will address the application theories and strategies in the clinical setting across the lifespan, positively impacting our clients with sensory processing issues, especially sensory modulation issues and mental health concerns. Therapeutic use of self and task analysis can be used to enhance treatment, present ways to modify environments, meet clients' needs, allow for neural organization, and support developmental growth. 

Opportunities to learn from and have discussions with experts are vital now more than ever, as changes in Neurodiversity research, language, treatment, and education are rapid and plentiful. Join us and leading experts Dr. Stephen Porges, Dr. Teresa May-Benson, Sarah Sawyer and others as we explore evidence-based information to assist professionals and families in developing a better understanding of Neuroception and Sensory Processing.



Speaker - Stephen Porges

Stephen Porges, PhD
Author of the Polyvagal Theory
Distinguished University Scientist at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University,
and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina.


Speaker - Virginia Spielmann

Virginia Spielmann
Executive Director
STAR Institute

Speaker - Teresa May Benson

Teresa May-Benson
TMb Education and OTR, Inc.

Speaker - Sarah Sawyer

Sarah Sawyer
President of the Board
Spiral Foundation

Speaker - Tracy Stackhouse

Tracy Stackhouse
Executive Director
Developmental FX (DFX)

Speaker - Dana Johnson

Dana Johnson
Interplay Therapy Center


Speaker - Patricia Oetter

Patricia Oetter
Enriched Pediatric Practice
Instructors Consortium

Speaker - Antoine L. Bailliard

Antoine L. Bailliard
Associate Professor ~ Duke University
Adjunct Professor ~ University of North Carolina

Speaker - Heather Kuhaneck

Heather Kuhaneck
Associate Professor ~ Sacred Heart University


Agenda (Mountain Time)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

3:00 PM-3:10 PM      Welcome               
3:10 PM-3:55 PM      Conversation with Heather Kuhaneck, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
4:00 PM-5:00 PM      Networking Groups
5:00 PM-6:00 PM      Reception


Friday, November 12, 2021

8:30 AM-8:40 AM   

Welcome and Announcements

8:40 AM-10:10 AM     

The Polyvagal Theory: Implications for Understanding and Supporting Children with Disordered Sensory Processing
Stephen Porges, PhD

10:10 AM-10:40 AM      Live Q & A with Dr. Stephen Porges
10:40 AM-11:00 AM      Insights with Our Sponsor - Unyte/iLs
Polyvagal Theory in Practice: Answers, Live Applications and Tools for the OT Practice
Kelly Beins, OT, Unyte-iLs
11:00 AM-11:30 AM      Lunch
11:30 AM-12:30 PM     

SAFE PLACE: A Multi-disciplinary Sensory Integration-based Trauma-informed Intervention for Children
Teresa May-Benson ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA and Sarah Sawyer, MA, OTR/L

12:30 PM-12:50 PM      Live Q & A with Dr. Teresa May-Benson and Sarah Sawyer
12:50 PM-1:05 PM      Break
1:05 PM-1:50 PM      Break Sessions
1:50 PM-2:50 PM      Expert Panel (Dr. Virginia Spielmann, Dr. Stephen PorgesDr. Teresa May-BensonSarah SawyerDr. Antoine Bailliard)
2:50 PM-3:00 PM      Symposium Closing
3:15 PM - 4:15 PM

Special Session with Unyte/iLs
Safe and Sound Protocol Clinical & Case Conversations with Cindy Dawkins & Kelly Beins

Join Kelly and Cindy as they go through examples in their own practices of how they've used SSP and Focus System. Additional time will be spent on discussion and Q&A.


Saturday, November 13, 2021

8:30 AM-8:40 AM      Welcome and Announcements                            
8:40 AM-9:40 AM     

Mind Over Motor: Understanding Sensory Motor Differences in the Autistic Population
Dana Johnson, PhD, MS, OTR/L

9:40 AM-10:00 AM      Live Q & A with Dr. Dana Johnson
10:00 AM-10:15 AM      Break
10:15 AM-11:15 AM     

Connection: Integrating Environment, Task, and Interaction Style
Patricia Oetter, MA, OTR/L, FAOTA

11:15 AM-11:35 AM      Live Q & A with Patricia Oetter
11:35 AM-12:05 PM      Lunch
12:05 PM-12:25 PM      Insights with Our Sponsor
12:25 PM-1:10 PM      Breakout Sessions
1:10 PM-2:10 PM     

Relationally-Grounded, Sensory-Informed Foundations of Safety
Tracy Stackhouse, MA, OTR/L

2:10 PM-2:30 PM      Live Q & A with Tracy Stackhouse
2:30 PM-3:30 PM      Expert Panel
3:30 PM-3:40 PM      Closing

Thank You to Our 2021 Symposium Sponsors

Sponsor - ICDL Sponsor - iLs/Unyte Sponsor - SIE
Sponsor - Kinspire Sponsor - My Pipers Sponsor - SOS
Sponsor - Little Hands Sponsor - Calm Strips Sponsor - Therapro

Symposium Sponsorship Opportunities

We invite you to showcase your company by participating as a sponsor of these unique events! Apply to become a sponsor of the 2.5 Day Symposium on November 11-13, 2021, Community Workshop on November 3-4, 2021 and/or Professional Workshop on November 20, 2021.

Why should I become a sponsor?
Our sponsorship packages are designed to allow you to select the benefits that will offer you the greatest return on investment:

  • Provides exposure and raises awareness about your products/services to a highly targeted audience
  • Connects you with professionals, parents, and students who are eager to engage with leaders in the field of innovative tool development, resources, and service provision for the sensory community
  • Acknowledgement through an array of marketing tools, including our highly trafficked website, targeted email campaigns, and social media posts
Learn More

Interested in Becoming a Sponsor? 

For more information contact us at education@sensoryhealth.org.

Credentialing and Continuing Education






AOTA CEUs are currently pending. Estimated AOTA CEUs will be .9-1.1 CEUs (9-11 professional contact hours).

Do you have a disability that would require special accommodations?

Please contact us at education@sensoryhealth.org and describe how we can help accommodate your needs.

Attendance Policy

Participants may join the conference at any time during the live broadcast and/or opt to view the recordingsA brief CEU quiz must be completed and passed with at least 80% accuracy for each section (for which AOTA CEUs can be offered) to receive a CEU Certificate. All participants may otherwise receive a Certificate of Attendance.

Video recordings are available to all participants for 45 days after the event.

Cancellation Policy

All registrations must be finalized or cancelled for a full refund by October 29, 2021. Registrations cancelled after October 29, 2021 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.