Annual End of Year Giving

Dear Friend of STAR Institute,

Twenty-five years after establishing a research lab in Colorado we believe that STAR Institute has never been in a better position to promote the importance of sensory health. The time is now, the message is urgent and the next decade looks hopeful.

When Dr. Lucy Jane Miller started laboratory research on the impact of sensory integration and processing on human development 25 years ago the world was a very different place. In 1995, we lived in a world where eBay had just been launched, Amazon was a brand new company, Seinfeld was the most popular show on TV, and the Atlanta Braves won the World Series. When people talked about the senses, it was at an elementary level awareness of the basics: touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound. Neurodevelopmental differences, like sensory processing challenges, were poorly understood. Such differences in human experience were often misdiagnosed or ignored.

Your generous support and dedication to STAR Institute’s mission have been the catalyst for change of this narrative. You have made 25 years of research and 15 years of treatment and education possible, profoundly changing the lives of those struggling with sensory challenges.

What we know about sensory health and its impact continues to advance and shift tremendously, and much like the past 25 years, we continue to learn and grow. Huge progress has been made but there is still so much more to do at STAR Institute. We continue to focus our attention on cutting edge research, treatment, and resources to change lives for the better! We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our community and we thank you for that. Your support has enabled us to raise awareness and treat hundreds of families here in Colorado, across the country, and internationally.

We continue to meet therapists, teachers, and health professionals at every education event who tell us that they wish they had this information sooner. Families are still coming through our doors desperate for understanding, in turmoil and looking for urgent and immediate help. It doesn’t have to be like this. Now is the perfect time to be pushing this information out into the mainstream but we can’t do it alone.

As is the case for all, this year has been filled with unexpected and relentless challenges for STAR Institute. We began 2020 with the excitement of moving into our new home and quickly our focus shifted to making necessary adaptations so that we could safely provide essential services to those in need. Thanks to technology, we have been able to connect with the STAR community around the world. We worked hard to redesign treatment programs to keep our clients, families, and staff safe. We pivoted our educational programs to online formats in order to best support professional growth and development. We launched new online educational programs including a foundational level training and our first Virtual Summit on Sensory Processing in Autism in June. We expanded access to all of STAR’s certification courses and provided training for entire school districts and international groups. For this past October’s Sensory Awareness Month we created a series of Sensory Stories. Hugely successful, these awareness-raising tools were designed to convey the impact and importance of sensory processing on health and well-being across the lifespan.

One key focus for the next ten years is increasing community development, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. In 2020 we increased our community partnerships by around 200% and we would like to do that again in 2021. 2020 also saw us hiring an Inclusion and Accessibility Consultant - Mariah Person - and a Neurodivergent Education consultant - Kieran Rose. We have many plans for increased inclusion and better representation throughout every pillar of STAR (research, treatment, and education).

We believe more than ever in the power of sensory health to transform lives. Sensory health supports mental health, school success, child-development, relational health, parenting, and vocational success. Many differences in sensory processing do not need to be disabling; more education and awareness is needed to ensure that schools, workplaces, and communities are universally accessible. The overwhelming impacts of sensory processing disorder on those struggling and their families are often avoidable and can certainly be alleviated.

In 2021 we want to double our community partnerships; increase our Spanish speaking services in both treatment and education; put our sensory stories in schools, doctors’ offices, and therapy centers around the world; offer no-cost and discounted training opportunities to BIPoC therapists who represent a historically untapped and poorly included population; provide treatment to more families across socio-economic groups, and conduct research on treatment effectiveness in specific demographics across the lifespan.

By 2025 we want to have sensory health workbooks in at least half of all elementary schools in the USA, with more across the world; double our adult treatment center capacity; run year-round school readiness groups; have a thriving infant mental health program; publish a treatment manual and fidelity measure for the STAR Frame of Reference; and publish research on the neurological mechanisms underlying sensory integration and exploring the impact of sensory integration on attachment processes and relational health.

Help us make a difference! As the year comes to a close, please consider giving a charitable gift to STAR Institute. Promoting sensory health and wellness continues to be at the forefront of our mission and is more important now than ever. We believe it will only increase in importance as the long term implications of the Covid19 pandemic play out. The need is urgent and the STAR family is irreplaceable in helping us transform communities and heal families. Please send your gift today via the enclosed envelope. Put your gift to work faster by donating online! Go to


Virginia Spielmann, Executive Director