Workshop Descriptions

Sunday Workshop Group A

 1. Moving Beyond Vocational Support: Fostering Independence, Self-Determination, and the Capacity for Relationships in a Unique Therapeutic Transition Program for Young Adults.  Presenters: David Nelson, LPC and Beth Champ, LPC

Most adult transition programs focus solely on vocational support; some also provide recreational opportunities or partial inclusion into a college campus. In this presentation, we will describe a different approach focused on support that makes a lifelong difference by focusing on self-­‐advocacy and creating a meaning-­‐filled adult life. Our approach is a comprehensive therapeutic program that develops core capacities, including emotional regulation, complex problem-­‐solving, a strong sense of self, as well as the capacity for meaningful relationships, and for higher level thinking. We will argue for the importance of providing services in a therapeutic framework to maximize the long-­‐term benefit to participants.

 2. Theoretical Models of Sensory Integration and Components of Comprehensive Assessment. Presenter: Virginia Spielmann, OT

A discussion and comparison of different models of sensory integration theory including models of function and dysfunction from Ayres, Dunn, Smith-Roley, Bundy et al and Miller et al. This intermediate level Sensory Integration presentation aims to equip all DIR Floortime providers with a greater understanding of various models of Sensory Integration and how they can be useful analytical tools when assessing this complex process. Assessment tools including questionnaires, standardized assessments and non-standardized clinical observations will also be discussed and compared.

 3.  Mystery Solved: Debunking mysterious language profiles through exploring early effects of sensory processing differences on child language development.  Presenter: Melissa Grosvenor, SLP 

This presentation will discuss the dysintegrated sensory profiles of two young children and describe how these early sensory adversities directly impacted their language development in unique ways. This presentation will debunk “mysteries” of children with developmental disorders including why language becomes delayed, why some children prefer to play alone, and why scripting develops. The contribution of disrupted parent-child synchrony will be examined as it pertains to language development. This presentation will conclude with a discussion of research focused treatment models.

 4.  Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities: The Basics. Presenters: Rae Leeper, M.S., Early Childhood Special and General Education and Jeffrey Guenzel, MA, LPC *

DIR 101 Track – Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities 1-3

 Sunday Workshop Group B

 1. The World Is Our Playground: The Effects of Screen Time on Healthy Childhood Development from the Perspective of an Occupational Therapist.  Presenters: Laura Sullivan, MS, OTR/L and Alison Regan, MS, OTR/L

The world is a playground for our children offering endless opportunities for exploration, movement, relationships, and creativity. However, swiping an iPad has taken the place of peek-a-boo games, blowing bubbles, and catching fireflies. We will explore what is being taken away from a child when he is handed a screen, emphasizing the long term effects that a lack of sensory exploration, movement, and relationships can have on healthy childhood development. We will explore how the Rebecca School and DIRFloortime® uses our world as a playground to support learning and development while embracing individual differences. We hope to encourage you to power down the devices and go catch some fireflies!

 2. Self-Determination and Person-Centered Planning for Students with Special Needs. Presenter: Deborah Klein Hammer

Students with special needs are often excluded from ownership of their education. Too often, their voice is not heard during IEP meetings and many key decisions may be made for students instead of with them. This presentation will focus on the reasons why including students is so important and strategies for helping students understand and participate in the IEP process. Participants will be introduced to person-centered transition plans, such as PATH, that allow a student’s individual wants, interests, goals, and dreams become integrated into IEPs and everyday life. This presentation will also provide participants with strategies for teaching students with disabilities how to self-advocate for their accommodations and rights. Participants will learn about programs such as I’m Determined and Cool Aspies that help young people with exceptionalities become more independent and inter-dependent

 3. Animal Assisted Therapy in DIR. Presenter: Maria Souder, Psy.D., HSPP, Advanced DIRFloortime Provider, Clinical Psychologist, Director of ICAN & Paytons Place

There is increasing research about animals, how they impact the human experience, and how Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) can help people with a variety of needs in many situations. DIRFloortime is a wonderful platform to incorporate animals. This presentation will review the current research on why animals help and how AAT is effective. Examples of DIRFloortime and AAT will be provided through case examples and participants will experience the engagement of an AAT canine during the presentation.

 4. Our Good Friend Affect: The Role of Affect in DIRFloortime. Presenters: Rae Leeper, M.S., Early Childhood Special and General Education and Jeffrey Guenzel, MA, LPC *

DIR 101 Track – Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities 4-6


Monday Morning Workshops

 1. Adolescent Lullaby, Using the Salient Qualities of Music and the Power of Relationship to Meet the Needs of Individuals Across Ages and Developmental Levels.  Presenters: Gil Tippy, PsyD and Stacey Hensel, MA, MT-BC, LCAT, NRMT.

This presentation will illustrate the benefits of interactive, improvisational music therapy in supporting a range of developmental capacities across a wide range of ages. The presenters will focus on the how this approach is an essential component in supporting older students who need early developmental support.  Imagine an infant being gently rocked in the arms of his/her caregiver, as a soothing lullaby or preferred song is sung to sooth, co-regulate and intimately connect. Music can provide the “holding” and the intimacy that is needed, but so hard to give to older students.

 2. From Sensory Processing to Executive Functioning.   Presenter: Maude LeRoux, OTR/L*

This information would cover details of individual differences that relates to sensory and physical functioning and will include in detail how this affects the different levels of the DIR Model. The presenter will provide the information through a developmental hierarchy that will enable listeners to understand the need for focus on specific areas of need.

 Monday Afternoon Workshops A

 1. Using DIR to Understand Challenging Behavior.  Presenter: Gene Christian, MS, CRC, LMHC *

Constrictions in the first four capacities are foundational. Barriers in functional emotional development are the primary impetus for the development of challenging behavior. Traditional functional behavioral assessment can provide important information from analyzing operant behavior and identifying events that may promote, discourage and/or maintain difficult behavior.  Yet the establishing conditions that best predict challenging behavior can only be understood through understanding the child’s functional emotional experience. The insight into the affective experience of the child provided by DIR® can guide us in avoiding and reducing problem behavior.  This discussion will focus on the kinds of barriers that promote difficult behavior at each functional emotional stage and DIR® strategies for addressing those barriers.

 2. Developing Visual Spatial Thinking and Learning While Assuming Competence Through DIRFloortime.  Presenter: Andra Munger, PhD

This presentation highlights visual-­‐spatial thinking as a key individual difference, the “I” of the DIRFloortime® model. We define visual-­‐spatial thinking as a learning capacity that allows us to make sense of what we see. We review the development of visual-­‐spatial thinking through sensory, motor and critical thinking experiences. We discuss and demonstrate critical thinking through DIRFloortime® approaches with students whose visual-­‐spatial and functional emotional developmental capacities get in the way of their learning. We discuss the importance of presuming competence through the DIRFloortime® model as we join and challenge the child to climb their functional emotional developmental ladder, essential to advancing their critical thinking and learning.

 3. Following the Child’s Lead as an Evidence-based Strategy for Autistic Children? Implications for interactive musical play.  Presenter: John A. Carpente, Ph.D., MT-BC, LCAT

Respecting the child’s ideas and following their lead is at the heart of relationship-based music therapy work. It involves spontaneously creating music experiences around the child’s interests and emotional “being,” while considering his/her individual differences and development, as the basis and precursor for engagement, relationship, and emotional reciprocity. This presentation will provide rationale, research, and clinical-musical guidelines regarding “following the child’s lead.” Clinical video excerpts will be used throughout the presentation to illustrate concepts.

 4. Using EPSDT to Fund Treatment Using the DIR Model, Including Floortime.  Presenter: Steven Kossor, MA, Licensed Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist

The program will be based on the presenter's 20 years of experience as a provider of mental health treatment and behavioral support for children, funded entirely by the EPSDT mandate of the Medicaid Act. Challenges presented by Managed Care, State & County governments and private insurance carriers will be described, with solutions that have been successfully implemented since 1996. The presenter will explain how his BHRS in a Wraparound Cup® model of Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services has been successful in treating children with Autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and other disabling conditions that are becoming increasing common in childhood based on treatment outcome studies conducted by independent researchers at four different educational institutions since 2007. A statistically significant association was found by all four researchers between the receipt of the presenter's treatment processes and reduction in physical aggression, safety deficits, communication deficits, noncompliance with adult prompts and socialization deficits in children between the ages of 2 and 21. Funding for this treatment is available in all 50 states via Medicaid and in 36 states, regardless of family income.

 Monday Afternoon Workshops B

 1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: How Visual Perception Abilities Affect Language Development.  Presenters: Kimberly Bishop MS OTR/L and Jennifer Shonkoff MA CCC-SLP TSSLD

Students who present with visual impairments may demonstrate difficulty engaging and communicating due to a reduced ability to appropriately take in stimuli from the environment. We explore how a child’s visual system can impact sensory integration, play, and language. We also demonstrate how integrating multiple sensory systems (visual, auditory, vestibular) affect a child’s socio-emotional development and ability to learn new skills across multiple environments.

 2. Following the Parent’s Story: Use of the Narrative Model in the DIRFloortime Treatment.  Presenter: Galina Itskovich, LCSW-R

Work with families is put forth as the seminal component of the DIRFloortime model.  Yet, collecting family history and making sense of the story told oftentimes presents difficulty for clinicians, especially for those without the mental health clinical background. The focus of this presentation is the use of narrative techniques for the purpose of interviewing, establishing therapeutic alliance and planning interventions. This therapeutic narrative model can help in interpreting stories told through the DIR Floortime lens. It will review common stumbling blocks for new clinicians and non-mental health DIR practitioners. Case examples of the narrative model will be presented.

 3. Floortime in Action: Examples of Floortime in Action.  Presenters: Rae Leeper, M.S., Early Childhood Special and General Education and Jeffrey Guenzel, MA, LPC *

DIR 101 Track – An introduction to Floortime in practice.

 4. The Art Therapy and DIR Connection.  Presenters: Michele Havens, EdD and Faith Condon Thayer, LPC, LCAT, ATR-BC 

This presentation will cover the basics of art therapy and how these therapeutic techniques blend with DIR principles. Video will be used to highlight both classroom and individual strategies when using this integrated approach.