Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP has over 23 years of experience in diagnostic evaluations, treatment and case management of children, adolescents and adults with language learning disabilities, nonverbal learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, executive dysfunction, Asperger’s disorders and social pragmatics . Her particular specialty is in the assessment and treatment of executive function deficits. Ms. Ward holds a faculty appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions where she provides instruction to graduate level students in the assessment and treatment of individuals with traumatic brain injury and other cognitive communication disorders. A popular speaker, Sarah regularly presents nationally and internationally on the topic of executive functions to a variety of professional and parent organizations, school and lay groups. She has presented to and consulted with over 585 public and private schools in Massachusetts and across the United States. Awards received include Bette Ann Harris Distinguished Professional (2017), Innovative Promising Practices Award by CHADD, The National Resource on ADHD (November 2015), the MGH Expertise in Clinical Practice Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Faculty in Excellence Award from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions (2002, 2011) and ACE awards (2013, 2016) from American Speech and Language Hearing Association.
Sheila Frick, OTR/L is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and founder of Vital Links. Since 1980, Sheila taught internationally clinician, lecturer, and pioneer in Occupational Therapy. Sheila has well over 30 years of clinical experience, having worked in psychiatry, rehabilitation, and home health before specializing in pediatrics. Sheila expertise includes sensory processing dysfunction, sensory integration, and auditory interventions.
In addition, Sheila has collaborated with well-recognized leaders in the field of Sensory Integration including Mary Kawar, Patricia Wilbarger, Julia Wilbarger, Patricia Oetter, Eileen Richter, and Mary Fiorentino.
Sheila created and continues to expand Therapeutic Listening®, which has been taught to over 14,000 therapists worldwide. She also lectures on topics such as clinical neurology, respiration, the vestibular/auditory system, and various auditory interventions.
Sheila is the author of Listening with the Whole Body: Clinical Concepts and Treatment Guidelines for Therapeutic Listening, and co-author of Core Concepts in Action; Astronaut Training: A Sound Activated Vestibular-Visual Protocol; and Out of the Mouths of Babes. Recently, Sheila served as a contributing author for her section on Therapeutic Listening in the upcoming 3rd edition of Sensory Integration: Theory and Practice.
Tracy Bjorling; M.S., OTR/L, is a pediatric OT currently pursuing a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tracy has had the wonderful opportunity of being mentored by Sheila M. Frick in her clinic. Working in conjunction with Sheila, Tracy has had multiple opportunities to explore the use of Therapeutic Listening with a wide variety of clients and diagnoses. As a member of the Vital Links clinical support team, Tracy has also had the privilege of accompanying and supporting Sheila, and other Vital Links speakers, at numerous workshops all over the world. Tracy has received additional training in Astronaut Training, Interactive Metronome and DIR/Floortime®.
Gail Ritchie, OTR, C/NDT is an independent, pediatric therapy provider and Occupational Therapist offering a range of therapies based on the culmination of skills and expertise attained over the last 35 years. Therapies include a variety of techniques and strategies specific to the individual needs of the child and family, while providing both emotional support and challenge.
A nationally and internationally renowned clinical educator and a certified NDTA instructor since 1996, Gail participated in the development of the book entitled Neuro-Development Approach: Theoretical Foundations and Principles of Clinical Practice and the study guide for Neuro-Developmental Treatment Approach: Theoretical Foundations and Principles of Clinical Practice. She is currently on the Theory and Curriculum Committees for the NDTA.
Gail, licensed in Wisconsin, Texas, and Illinois, currently resides in in McAllen, Texas. She also offers private consultations and individualized therapy intensives.
Kelly Mahler MS, OTR/L, earned a MS in Occupational Therapy, as well as a Post-Professional Pediatric Certificate from Misericordia University, Dallas, PA. She has been an occupational therapist and autism consultant for over 16 years, serving school-aged children and adults. Kelly is also co-founder of Destination Friendship, an organization dedicated to providing multidisciplinary social skill groups within the community. Kelly is professor of Occupational Therapy at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA. She is actively involved in several research projects pertaining to interoception. Kelly is an international speaker and presents frequently on topics related to the five books she has authored: Sensory Issues and High Functioning Autism (with Myles and Robbins)—winner of 2015 National Parenting Publications Bronze Medal; Destination Friendship (with Benton, Hollis, and Womer); Hygiene and Related Behaviors for Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders–winner of Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medal 2011 and Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System—which this conference presentation is based on.
Dr. Bialer is an experienced seminar leader, educational adjunct instructor and lecturer, providing numerous clinical workshops across the country on the topics of Sensory Processing Disorder; School Based Therapy, Attention, Praxis and Executive Functions. She has presented at the National Symposium for Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism, where she held the honor of being part of an established host of speakers including Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Lucy Jane Miller.
Dr. Bialer has taught both undergraduate and graduate students in occupational therapy programs at New York University, New York Institute of Technology and at Touro College in courses including Pediatrics, Motor Learning. Kinesiology and Neuroanatomy.
Dr. Bialer is the co-author, with Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, of No Longer A SECRET; Unique, Common –Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory and Motor Challenges, published by Sensory World, 2011 (Future Horizons).
In addition, she is a private practitioner working in Locust Valley, New York, where her goal is to help children and families successfully function and participate in the home, school and community. She is also an independent contractor and consultant to multiple preschools and school districts in Nassau County. Dr. Bialer holds certifications in Neurodevelopmental Therapy in both pediatrics and adults, as well as in the Administration and Interpretation of the Sensory Integration and Praxis tests. She is a certified Pilates Mat Instructor and holds a personal training certificate from Hofstra university Academy of Applied Personal Training Education. (AAPTE).
Alex Lopiccolo a/k/a Mr. Alex is an experienced Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Consultant. Alex is well known as The King of Swings. When he is not treating as a full time Sensory Integration Therapy practitioner he travels around the world sharing his knowledge of sensorimotor therapy with OT's and students at pediatric clinics and universities. Alex also works with the leading Sensory Therapy company, Southpaw Enterprises on different swing inventions. He especially enjoys designing and installing home sensory gyms to help his young clients at home.
Growing up in Michigan, Alex struggled with Sensory Processing Disorder himself. The strategies that he developed, along with a strong calling to help others, inspired the fun and therapeutic approach he has been using with his clients for over eight years.
Alex, his wife, and two children live in Gig Harbor, after relocating from Edmonds and Denver. His favorite activities are spending time with his family, disc golf, canicross with his dog Optimus Prime, running barefoot, inventing sensory therapy equipment, and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
Dr. Mitchell Scheiman is a nationally known optometric educator, lecturer, author and private practitioner. He is the author of “Understanding and Managing Visual Deficits: A Guide for Occupational Therapists”, and Low Vision Rehabilitation: A Guide for Occupational Therapists” published by Slack Incorporated. Dr. Scheiman has a long and close relationship with occupational therapists. He works closely with occupational and physical therapists in his practice co-managing patients and has lectured to therapists on numerous occasions. He has specialized in vision therapy for the past 40 years. Dr. Scheiman is currently Dean of Research at Salus University. He has written three books for optometrists covering the topics of binocular vision and vision therapy, pediatric optometry, and learning related vision problems and he has published over 180 articles in the professional literature. He is a Diplomate in Binocular Vision and Perception and a Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development
Sensory Smart (TM)
Lindsey Biel is a pediatric occupational therapist with a private practice in Manhattan. She is co-author of the award-winning Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues, with a foreword by Temple Grandin and the author of Sensory Processing Challenges: Effective Clinical Work with Kids & Teens. She is also co-creator of the Sensory Processing Master Class DVD program and is frequently published in parenting and professional magazines. She teaches workshops to parents, teachers, therapists, doctors, and other professionals across the country. Visit her websites at www.sensorysmarts.com and www.sensoryprocessingchallenges.com for downloadable checklists, articles, podcasts and more.
A unique combination of clinical psychologist, nutritionist, and special education teacher, Dr. Nicole Beurkens, PhD, has almost 20 years of experience supporting children, young adults, and families. She has specialized expertise in evaluating and treating a wide range of developmental and mental health concerns including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, bipolar disorder, behavioral disorders, brain injury, and other neurodevelopmental conditions. She holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, a Master’s in Nutrition and Integrative Health, and a Master’s in Special Education, and is trained in numerous specialty areas.
A licensed clinical psychologist and nutritionist, Dr. Beurkens is the Founder and Director of Horizons Developmental Resource Center in Caledonia, Michigan. She leads a team dedicated to exceptional evaluation and integrative treatment services, research on innovative treatment protocols, and professional training on best practices.
Janet trained directly with the founders of RMTi™, psychiatrist Harald Blomberg, MD, and kinesiologist Moira Dempsey. She is a Learning Specialist, Licensed Massage Therapist LMT, has studied numerous methods of Reflex Integration and served as international instructor. Her further training and instructing in Developmental Movement, Specialized Kinesiology, Jin Shin Jyutsu Acupressure, Bal-a-vis-x, and emotional release techniques inform her private practice.
Janet has been an instructor for
TheraMoves since 2014 teaching RMT foundation levels 1 & 2 and level 3.
S'cool Moves: Best Practice in Collaboration and Therapy Based Strategies that work for OT's PT's and Educators.
Dr. Jessica Gilson PT, DPT is a physical therapist who received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Touro College and her Bachelors of Science from Yeshiva University Stern College for Women. Jessica primarily works with children and young adults ranging in age from birth to 21 years old in a variety of settings. These include a private therapy center, both the general and special education school systems, and in the home within the early intervention model. She has worked and collaborated with teachers, paraprofessionals, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists and physical education teachers. She is a S'cool Moves Collaboration Coach. S'cool Moves is a program founded by Dr. Debra Em Wilson.
Miriam Manela, is the director of Thrive Occupational Therapy, her private occupational therapy practice housed in a unique sensory gym. In addition to her private practice, Miriam is known for her workshops and lectures for educators and teachers as well as health-care professionals (MDs, OTRs, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, substance abuse professionals, and others).Treatment Philosophy. Miriam uses a creative blend of proven techniques to help her clients overcome behavioral, academic, social, and physical challenges while providing a safe space where children can feel free to be themselves as they explore and grow.Miriam believes in listening to and working closely with parents and caregivers to help them achieve a healthy, responsive, and mutually satisfying parent-child relationship. Miriam is certified in Therapeutic Listening™, and has received advanced training in Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT), Sensory Integration, Attachment Theory and Reflex Integration. Miriam is a certified Reiki practitioner and Therapeutic Listening provider. Miriam practiced school-based OT in New York and New Jersey for over five years and worked at Hand to Heart OT, as well as provided services to victims of domestic violence and people living with addictions.Miriam graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kean University and interned at Staten Island University Hospital. She is the legislative co-chair of the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association (NJOTA) and is also the former representative for the representative assembly of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). In December, 2013 Miriam received the WCBS-AM & Cancer Treatment Centers Women Achievement Award. Miriam has been awarded Top Doctor’s in New Jersey award in both 2015 and 2016.
Dr. Robert Melillo is one of the world’s most sought after and respected experts in Developmental Functional Neurology, Brain Imbalances, hemispheric integration and the diagnosis and correction of most neurobehavioral disorders and learning disabilities. He is also a successful businessman and entrepreneur and has developed many successful businesses. In 2006, he created Brain Balance Achievement Centers which has approximately 150 centers and has helped tens of thousands of families. He is a prolific author and brain researcher, he has published one major text book titled Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood an Evolutionary Perspective. He has coauthored approximately 20 chapters in other texts on various subjects related to Dyslexia, Attention, Frontal Lobe Development etc. and he has also published approximately 50 peer reviewed papers. In addition, Dr. Melillo has also written 5 best-selling books including his best known Disconnected Kids which has been translated into 8 languages. He has presented at numerous scientific and clinical conferences around the world and he also has taught his own course in a post graduate level for over 20 years. Dr. Melillo is an Associate Professor of Developmental Disabilities at National University of Health Sciences, has multiple graduate degrees in Chiropractic, Neurology, Neuroscience and Clinical Rehabilitation Neuropsychology and is the co-founder and past President of the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation. He has appeared on over 1000 radio and TV interviews and with his wife Carolyn, developed their own TV and Radio Show. He was honored to be part of Dr. Mark Hyman’s recent Documentary Broken Brains as well. He and his wife are also currently the creators of a new webseries Disconnected Kids Reconnected Families. They have been married for 29 years and have three kids. He is honored to be on the Advisory Board for Zac Browns’ Camp Southern Ground for children with learning disabilities. Dr. Melillo has a passion as well for doing Personal and Professional Development training and Coaching to help people take their lives to new levels! In 2017 Dr. Melillo also created a line of vitamins called KidGenius and TruGenius.
Rosetta graduated from NYU Physical Therapy with a BS/PT in 1990. Rosetta has over 30 years experience in orthopedic/sports therapy, as well as pediatric early intervention home care and school based therapy. Rosetta is also an early intervention evaluator. She has worked with children ranging from extreme low tone to extreme high one, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and more, and has extensive knowledge in exercise technology and equipment. Rosetta is trained and certified in Neurodevelopmental Training (NDT) and Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing (SIPT). She has additional training in MEDEK, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, kinesiotaping, joint mobilization, myofascial release, contract/relax method, cyrax, biomechanical gait analysis, and rhythmic movement reflex training. Rosetta’s specialty includes evaluating and analyzing the root of children’s physical problems and devising a custom made plan accordingly.
Melanie treats children birth to teens who have difficulty eating. Melanie’s advice has been shared in a variety of television and print media, including The New York Times, CNN.com, Huffington Post and Parents Magazine and The ASHA Leader and ASHA Leader Blog. She is the co-author of the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating (2015) and Baby Self-Feeding: Solutions for Introducing Purees and Solids to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits (2016). Melanie is the author of Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids (2010) and the producer of the award-winning kids’ CD Dancing in the Kitchen: Songs that Celebrate the Joy of Food! The tips in her latest book, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes (2018) are based on the research and Melanie’s 20 years of success as a pediatric feeding therapist. Melanie is an active volunteer and co-writer of The Doctor Yum Preschool Food Curriculum bringing food education to hundreds of preschoolers in the United States. Melanie’s live and online courses for parents and professionals can be found at www.MelaniePotock.com, along with her contact information.
Why “EYE” Can’t Read
Lori Griffith, COVT, is the president of Empower Therapy Group. Lori is a member on the International Exam and Certification Board for the College of Optometrist in vision development. She is a Certified Optometric Vision Therapist (COVT) who is always on the forefront of new ideas and techniques that address visual processing disorders and deficits. Currently, she is the chief vision therapist for Dr. Desely in Chantiilly VA. where she addressed patients with an array of visual challenges. From patients with autism, cerebral palsy, special needs, and learning-related vision problems, Lori delivers quality patient care. Lori evaluates a patient's orientation and mobility skills, cognition, physical abilities, and personal goals to develop an individualized, all-inclusive treatment plan. Effective evaluations, patient-centered treatment, and passion is the cornerstone of success behind Lori Griffith’s career. Lori also served as a vision therapist and optometric technician for Vision Source. Along with her caring approach towards patients, she honored the practice's optical quality standards, and received high praise for the dedication she demonstrated toward patients. For the past 5 years, Lori has served as a mentor for College of Optometrists in Visual Development, offering guidance to students as they navigate through the complex certification process. In this rewarding role, she supports the growth and development of the mentee. Before joining the medical industry, Lori worked in retail where she thrived in fast-paced environments and always sought ways to improve and strengthen customer relationships. Across the whole of her career, Lori’s therapeutic skill-set and compassion have played a key role in patients achieving their highest potential.
Praxis: The Sensible Approach!
David Blaski is a neonatal/pediatric occupational therapist and certified early intervention specialist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of sensory processing disorders, neurological and orthopedic disorders, developmental delay and autistic spectrum disorders. He has been certified in Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing since 1993 and became board certified in pediatric occupational therapy (BCP) in 1998. He has been an in-demand lecturer on sensory integration and sensory processing disorders across the country for over 12 years. He serves as a clinical pediatric specialist in occupational therapy for Franciscan Alliance Pediatric Rehabilitation in Schererville, IN.
David Blaski received his Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is licensed to practice in Illinois and Indiana. He has extensive training in the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS) and the School AMPS. He is also the inventor of the patented Aquatic Stabilizer Apparatus, the first aquatic-based therapy device that allows individuals with cerebral palsy to swim with little to no assist. It was the recipient of the 2012 Maddak Award for "Best Innovation of the Year".
In addition to his clinical occupational therapy expertise, he has also been active with David Copperfield's Project Magic" since 1982. He has assisted in developing "Project Magic" programs for hospitals in many states and has made numerous presentations to university audiences on the programs benefits. David Blaski's background and post-professional education and training in working with SPD allows him to speak on this subject matter such that participants will have practical knowledge and understanding they can use the next day.
Nancy Marin, OTR/L, C-NDT, IYT, a 1983 graduate of Florida International University with a BS in OT, has over 30 years experience in Pediatrics. She is the owner/president of Occuplay, Inc. in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida where she practices full time in both the private and natural environments settings, from Early Intervention through age 25. She is certified in Advance Baby Treatment through NDTA, Inc., certified Integrative Yoga Therapist, 200 hours, certified provider of The Listening Program- Bone conduction, Tomatis consultant and Reiki Master. Nancy’s experience with special needs children includes private pediatric outpatient, preschool and home environments. Nancy has a true passion for working with neurologically involved children as well as those with Sensory Integrative Disorders and continues to seek out new ways to touch the lives of the children and families she works with. Financial Disclosure: Nancy receives honoraria from CIAO for the presentation of her live courses and royalties for the sale of her recorded courses. Nancy receives income as the owner of Occuplay, Inc. Non-financial Disclosure: There are no relevant relationships to disclose.
Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L, BCP (AOTA Board Certification in Pediatrics) graduated from The University of Kansas in 1990 with distinction and has helped children over the past 28 years as a licensed pediatric occupational therapist working as a speaker, consultant, private practitioner at her own clinic (Jenny’s Kids, Inc.), school-based occupational therapist, independent contractor for early intervention services, author, and inventor. Jenny received certification from Aura Wellness Center as a Kids Yoga Teacher in July 2017.
Her passion for developing new approaches to therapy can be seen in her diverse contributions to the field, including: the evidence-based curriculum material Learn to Move, Move to Learn: Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes (AAPC 2004), and the sequel Learn to Move, Moving Up! Sensorimotor Elementary School Activity Themes (AAPC 2009); two DVD’s Learn to Move: Dinosaurs (AAPC 2005), a companion to her first book, and Sensory Processing Disorder Kit: Simulations and Solutions for Parents, Teachers, and Therapist (AAPC 2006), which won the 2007 media in excellence video award from Autism Society of America; a music CD, Sing, Move, Learn (AAPC 2010), which accompanies the songs in her first book. Jenny was a contributing author for the book Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals (Greenwood Publishing Group 2007), as well as the author of a chapter in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Foundations, Characteristics, and Effective Strategies. (Pearson Publishing 2011). Most recently, Jenny was the technical reviewer for The Everything Parents Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder (Terri Mauro, Adams Media 2014). Jenny is the inventor of the patent-pending “Weigh” Cool Bracelet (www.abilitations.com) and her most recent creation, Letter Treasure Hunt handwriting game (Therapro 2014).
Jenny is known for her dynamic personality, sprinkled with humor that engages people to ‘think outside the box’ inspiring unlimited creative ideas. Jenny’s favorite sensorimotor recreation includes tennis, mountain biking, gardening, and photography.
Jenni Halstead has worked in Occupational Therapy for the past 20 years. She has enjoyed working in various settings and has experience working with populations from pediatrics to geriatrics.
She has worked in pediatrics for the past 11 years in the school setting and doing pediatric consultations. She specializes in reflex integration and is a Rhythmic Movement Training International Consultant and Instructor.
Jenni has used RMT extensively to assist children with improving and overcoming problems associated with ADHD, ADD, PDD, sensory disturbances, Autism, Dyslexia and other reading deficits, Visual and perceptual disturbances, behavioral and conduct disturbances, bowel and bladder (ie; bedwetting) concerns and Downs Syndrome. She has also worked with adults who struggle with PTSD, sleep disturbances, bladder dysfunctions, anxiety, attention problems and depression.
Nikki Rosen (Lieberman), M.A., O.T.R./L As an occupational therapist with a master’s degree in early childhood education, she has worked with children, students, families, and adults a variety of settings for over 40 years including as a school therapist, through private practice (clinical and home bases), nursing homes, home health, and community based practice. Nikki’s credential include certification in sensory integration and praxis (SIPT) testing, pediatric neuro-developmental training (pediatric NDT). She is a Feldenkrais® Practitioner (1994), and Certified Infant Massage Instructor through the International Association of Infant Massage US Chapter (1999), She has studied Reflex Integration, BrainGym, Bal-A-Vis-X, and Yoga for years from many instructors, and more recently studied Bowen Myofascial Work, and Biodynamic Craniosacral Treatment. Nikki was co-founder and past clinical director of the Abilities Center Inc., a private clinic specializing in children and their families through community classes and therapeutic interventions in Michigan. Here she implemented, edited and ran the Getting It Write Program. She has presented throughout the United States on sensory integration, movement education, handwriting and infant massage, Nikki has volunteered her time at Camp Avanti over the years under the direction of Patricia Wilbarger, Eileen Richter and Patricia Oetter. In 1996, Nikki earned the Distinguished Service Award from the Detroit Occupational Therapy Association.