The 2019 23rd Annual International DIR Floortime® Conference
Effectively Promoting Human Development with Compassion and Respect

October 4 & 5, 2019
9:00AM - 5:00PM on October 4th
9:00 - 4:30PM on October 5th
Please arrive by 8:30AM for registration and breakfast.
San Francisco, California

Presentations and Conference Information

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism with Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Barry Prizant is the author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism. Barry has more than 40 years experience as a clinical scholar, consultant, researcher and program consultant to children and older persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and related developmental disabilities and their families. He is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Barry has served as a tenured Professor of Communication Disorders at Southern Illinois University and Emerson College, Boston, where he developed specialty tracks in language disabilities and autism in the Master’s and Doctoral programs. He also was Founder and Director of the Communication Disorders Department at Bradley Hospital, with an Associate Professor Appointment in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Brown University Program in Medicine, and was an Advanced Post-Doctoral Fellow in Early Intervention at UNC-Chapel Hill. Barry has developed family-centered programs for newly diagnosed toddlers with social-communication disabilities and ASD and their families in hospital and university clinic settings, and consults widely to schools and agencies in New England as well and nationally and internationally.

Involved Fathers Get Results with Robert Naseef, Ph.D.

Male role models are important for children, and boys and girls growing up on the autism spectrum are no exception. Fathers are more involved than ever, and research backs up their impact on children. However, when a child has autism there are often steep challenges for the typical male parent. This presentation will draw on recent research on the potential for growth and overcoming the barriers that autism presents.

Robert Naseef, Ph.D. has a distinct voice as a psychologist and father of an adult son with autism. He has spoken around the country and trained professionals internationally in treating autism and other developmental disorders and supporting families. He has a special interest in the psychology of men and fatherhood.

Along with Stephen Shore, Ed.D., Dr. Naseef is a lead consultant to the Arc of Philadelphia and SAP’s “Autism at Work” program which involves collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. The curriculum they developed, “Preparing Neurodiverse Youth for the Workplace” is available for free download at

Dr. Naseef’s 2013 book, Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together (Brookes Publishing) integrates advances in research and treatment with clinical experience to help families navigate the emotional landscape and the practical roadmap through the lifespan. Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Parenting a Child with a Disability (1996), his first book, received international recognition. He has appeared on radio and television. He is the co-editor with Cindy N. Ariel of Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom (2006).

In 2008, Robert Naseef was honored by Variety, the Children’s Charity for his outstanding contributions to the autism community. He is the social media chair of the Philadelphia Psychology Network. On World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2017, Dr. Naseef gave a TEDx talk entitled “How autism teaches us about being human” which you can see on YouTube. Dr. Naseef was recently appointed to the Panel of Professional Advisors of the Autism Society of America. Visit him on the web at

The Downstream Effects of "As If" Interventions in Contrast to DIR Floortime's Long-term Effectiveness Over the Lifespan with Gil Tippy, PsyD. 

This presentation will focus on the disturbing status quo in the support of individuals with autism, and autistic individuals, in which meaningless data are used to justify interventions and spending decisions. Attention will be given to how these meaningless data based decisions lead to meaningless, and actively harmful, interventions. These meaningless, and harmful interventions impact how millions of people with developmental challenges participate in society, with vast socio-economic implications. Developmental support, particularly DIR/Floortime, will be suggested as the "Real" interventions to counteract the damage caused by generations of "As If" interventions.

Gil Tippy, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and author of Respecting Autism with Stanley Greenspan, MD.  He is the Clinical Director Emeritus of  Shrub Oak International School, in Westchester County, NY. He is the Chief Clinical Advisor of the ICDL Therapy & Training Center in Livingston, NJ and is an Expert DIR Floortime Provider and Teacher. He lives and has a private practice, Respectrum Developmental Services, as well as a not-for-profit, Dirty Hands Developmental Alliance, in Sonoma County, California.

Conference Venue

Broadway Studios
An historic theater located in
San Francisco's beautiful "Little Italy"
435 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

Please note, this is an old theater and it is not wheelchair accessible.  To enter the theater, patrons must use a staircase.  ICDL is offering live-online streaming as an alternative.  Please see below for details. 

Paying My Dues: What I Have Learned In My Journey as an Autistic Occupational Therapist with Bill Wong

Bill is an occupational therapist licensed in California since 2012. His specialties in occupational therapy are autism and social media. He currently practices in skilled nursing facility setting since 2014, as well as being an adjunct instructor at Stanbridge University, Los Angeles since early this year. He is a speaker at TEDxGrandForks in 2015 and TEDxYouth@AlamitosBay in 2017. Bill is also a current member of the Representative Assembly of the American Occupational Therapy Association for California since 2017.

Resolution of Autism in a Baby using the DIR Paradigm: Building on the Theme of Loneliness
with Molly Romer Witten, PhD

The most persistent long-term outcome of untreated early autistic development is a lonely existence significant for how isolated from other humans the individual keeps him or herself. Relatedness and hence, impairment of relatedness begins earlier than organization of the attachment processes, in the relational organization and integration of affect and individual differences in motor development, which occurs by 5 months. Using the DIR paradigm and clinical material to observe the theme of loneliness, this presentation illustrates the resolution process for an infant and his family his first five years of life. 

Building a Comprehensive Autism Treatment Program based on DIR Floortime: Leveraging Strengths, Building Resilience

with Robert Hendren, D.O. Professor of Psychiatry, UCSF and Barbara Kalmanson, Ph.D. founding member of the Oak Hill School (OHS) and members of the UCSF/OHS Collaborative: Michael Breard, Executive Director, and Mike McDonald, Director of High School Programs.

They will present a model for the continuing evolution of a school-based program that provides comprehensive treatment of autism as a multi-system developmental disorder. The Oak Hill model addresses all aspects of the life of a person with autism. The Oak Hill School is a comprehensive autism treatment program that leverages strengths and builds resilience.

 Robert L. Hendren, D.O., is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science; Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Co-Director of the UCSF Dyslexia Center; and Director, Program for Research on Neurodevelopmental, Translational Outcomes (PRONTO). His current areas of research and publication interests are translational interventional outcomes research including clinical pharmacology, nutraceutical and nutritional trials using biomarkers (MRI, measures of inflammation, oxidative stress, immune function and pharmacogenomics) to enhance resilience in neurodevelopmental disorders. He is currently applying a targeted outcomes research approach in a collaborative project with the Oak Hill School for youth with severe autism and neurodevelopmental spectrum disorders in San Anselmo, CA.

Barbara Kalmanson, Ph.D. brings 50 years of experience to her work as a clinical psychologist, a special educator, and an infant mental health specialist. She is a founder of the ICDL Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, the Oak Hill School for children with Autism and related disorders, the Fielding Graduate University doctoral program in early childhood mental health and developmental differences, and the website, promoting the importance of relationships in early childhood development. An original faculty member of the Infant-Parent Program, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), she is also an endorsed California Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist Reflective Practice Mentor. Dr. Kalmanson was a Fellow of Zero to Three. She is a national and international consultant to schools and agencies, and a founder and an active member of DIRime Italia. Her publications and presentations focus on family based treatment of developmental and learning issues in early childhood, and on the importance of relationships in all interventions. Her most recent publication is in Developmental Perspectives in Child Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, (eds) Bonovitz and Harlem, How we know how to be with others: Infant –parent psychotherapy for early indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Routledge, 2018.

Everyday Miracles with The Miracle Project: A fully inclusive theater, film, expressive arts and social skills program for individuals with autism and all abilities with Elaine Hall

In this multi-media presentation, Elaine Hall will outline her evidence-based and award winning Inclusion from WithIn® methodology and seven integrated keys that have proven successful in making meaningful connections with individuals on the autism spectrum. She will offer low-cost strategies that enable professionals and parents to make their lives with their students/children/young adults most successful and rewarding. Elaine will also describe her innovative methodology which is the backbone of The Miracle Project®, the fully inclusive expressive and performing arts program that integrates music, movement, creative dramatics, and musical theatre bringing out the best in individuals of all ages and abilities. Examples will be provided of students who have now found their voice, discovered their talents and have active social lives with videos of those who have become professional actors in TV and Film including on the hit Netflix series, Atypical and The Good Doctor.

Elaine Hall, Founder of The Miracle Project, is an award winning speaker, author, and pioneer in using inclusive theatre and film to connect with individuals with autism and all abilities. Elaine was a top Hollywood acting coach when her son was diagnosed with autism. When traditional therapies did not work, she developed an innovative creative-based methodology (now evidence-based) to reach him. Recognized worldwide, she has spoken at the United Nations, featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on CNN, CBS, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in the Emmy winning HBO documentary, Autism: The Musical. Elaine has led training programs and neuro-diverse summer camps at Brown University, in San Francisco, in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Argentina. Hall’s students once too shy to even walk into a room of their peers have now performed on the nation’s most prestigious stages such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The White House and in TV shows such as Atypical, The Good Doctor, Parenthood and Speechless. Her memoir, Now I See the Moon was selected by the United Nations to for World Autism Awareness Day, 2011 and her text book, 7 Keys to Unlock Autism is used by Brown University. Elaine was recently invited to Emcee and participate on a panel at Sony Pictures where she acts as a consultant and on-set acting coach. She also moderated two panels at the United Nations where her son, Neal who is non-speaking presented using assistive technology. Elaine and her team are proud to be developing original musicals through Broadway Licensing, training and developing programs nationally and internationally and leading inclusive theatre, film, social skills and job skills classes based at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, with classes throughout Los Angeles.

A Conversation About a DIR Inspired Inclusive Preschool with Leslie Roffman and Cassie Britton.

Back in 1990, Barbara Kalmanson set us on the path to become a DIR inspired inclusive preschool with one simple sentence. She intended to guide us in our work with a child with autism. “Instead of trying to make him do what the other children are doing, just bring the other children into whatever he is doing.” Thus, began a long, exciting journey for all of the staff at The Little School to learn to look at children through the lens of a child’s individual sensory profile and development; to meet children and families wherever they were and climb a ladder of development together; of creating authentic relationships between each child and teacher and amongst the children; of using parallel process in all relationships in the center, including teacher and administrator. Come join a conversation that explores the components that made this relationship-based, inclusive program successful, and how DIR Floortime translates to an early childhood setting. Videos of actual classroom footage will be included.

Cassie graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Child Development and Family Studies. After working two years as a lead teacher at Cornell’s Lab Nursery School she moved to San Francisco. She is celebrating her 33rd year with The Little School where she is now their Developmental Specialist and Staff Trainer. She Co-founded Sensory Social Playgroups with Fiona Zecca in 2007. She also works as a consultant in other local early childhood settings, and provides in-home support services as well. She studied Early Childhood Special Education at San Francisco State University. She has been trained in DIR Floortime™ by the DIR Institute.

Leslie Roffman was the founder of the Little School in 1984, was the director from that time until 2016, and currently serves as a consultant. She was the co-author of Including One, Including All: A Guide to Relationship-based Early Childhood Inclusion and Relationships: The Key to Teaching and Learning in the Early Years -teacher training video. Leslie works as a consultant, facilitator, and presenter supporting developmentally and relationship based methods for promoting the growth, development, and education of children.