Profectum's Visionary Lecture Series—a free community learning event Learn More


Profectum's Visionary Lecture Series—a free community learning event

About This Conference

Each year we aim to continue our core theme of “Relationships – the Key to Progress”. This year, the Profectum conference will cross the lifespan of autism, from infancy to young adulthood where relationships are the essential human experience that pave the way to a meaningful future. You will learn to anticipate the needs of the young children you work with now and what they will need in the future, as well as new methods to promote self-reliance when grown.

Learning Objectives
  • Learn the revolutionary movement-sensing perspective on the roots of autism
  • Join a mother’s journey from infancy to adulthood and learn how she developed a perspective of her child’s experience growing up to enhance their relationship and progress
  • Explore the dynamics of partnerships with parents and the separation-individuation process
  • Help individuals improve the executive capacities to function as self-reliant adults
  • Gain awareness of autism and safety promoted through the media
  • Experience virtual reality as a tool to improve police safety in adolescents and adults with ASD
  • Use a phone App that allows therapists to measure connectedness as a pre-post measure of coaching effectiveness
  • Integrate the DIR-FCD™ model into a public pre-school setting with evidence for efficacy of PPT training methodology
  • Enter the classrooms of children to discover the parallel process of developmental and functional competence (DIR® and FCD)
  • Use the newly published DIR-FCD™ Goal Bank to define the educational goals in IEPs
  • Attend breakout sessions each day emphasizing case studies that will bring depth and practical strategies to support development from infancy to young adulthood
  • And much more …
Webcast Series Available

This Conference is available as Webcast Series here.

Rebecca Berg, Master's Degree, Occupational Therapy

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Lauren Blaszak

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Nancy Crown, PhD

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John Donvan

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Griff Doyle, PhD

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Michele Havens, EdD

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George McCloskey, PhD

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Monica Osgood, MA

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Elizabeth Osten, MS

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Amy Pinder, MA

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Ruby Salazar, LCSW, BCD

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Susan Smith-Foley, OTD, MPA, OTR/L

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Rita Solórzano, MA CCC-SLP

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Elizabeth Torres, PhD

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Rosemary White, OTR/L

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Serena Wieder, PhD

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Day 01 Oct 28
8:45am - 9:30am

Welcome & Introduction : Treating the Complexity of Autism: Why Relationships and Mental Health Must Underlie all Intervention and Provide the Keys to Progress

The DIR model pioneered a developmental multidimensional approach to understand and treat autism’s complexity using a relationship sensory-motor perspective to dynamically track social, emotional and cognitive neurodevelopment. Today neuroscientists use new technology to identify biomarkers responsive to early intervention related to our approach. On the front lines, historically, clinically, and through research we know relationships provide the most essential experience in life to promote emotional development and mental health. This brief introduction will highlight how the DIR-FCD™ model, in theory and practice, anchors progress through relationships, integrates individual differences, and promotes emotional and functional capacities leading to competence. As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to: • Describe a multidimensional model of development and ASD. • Identify the developmental and sensory-motor processes related to mental health. • Discuss the historical role of the DIR-FCD™ model in advancing parent-mediated intervention strategies to support the developmental growth of children with special needs and autism.

Presenters Serena Wieder
9:30am - 11:00am

The New Frontier: Redefining Autism from the Movement-Sensing Perspective

Autism has been used as an umbrella term to diagnose a condition that encompasses observable problems with social interactions, cognitive/communication and restricted interests. Underlying these phenomena are many subtle issues that have their origins in the functioning of the nervous system: ranging from autonomic to involuntary to voluntary functions. The social issues, the ritualistic restrictive (repetitive) behaviors and the problems with communication can be largely due to the somatic sensory motor issues the child has since early infancy. If the brain cannot receive proper feedback from the body in motion, from the heartbeats, from the respiration, from the waves that vibrate throughout the nervous systems, they lead to a disconnect between the intent to act and the physical act the person wants to perform at will. While helping the child, one must allow his/her self-agency to flourish so that in due time autonomy, self-independence and self-sufficiency emerge. These are all necessary ingredients for successful social interactions and relationships. This talk will discuss new tools for treatments and research aimed at the enhancement of social agency in autism illustrated through case examples. As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to: • Explain dyadic interactions using a new perspective that provides the means to evaluate social rapport, content and interpersonal dynamics. • List examples of social exchange from different perspectives to demonstrate how biased and limited one single view of this problem can be. • List examples of affect and its influences on our bodies in motion (e.g. external rhythms from music influencing the body in motion and channeling out the best forms of sensory guidance for the person).

Presenters Elizabeth Torres
11:00am - 11:30am


Coffee & Tea | Bookstore, Book Signing and More

11:30am - 12:45pm

Connecting Movement and Sensation to Developmental Challenges in ASD

This case presentation will highlight how treating sensory motor markers of ASD through parent-infant interactions in a child from 8 months to 3 years of age established foundations for regulation and attention, engagement, reciprocity and early social problem solving.

Presenters Elizabeth Osten
11:30am - 12:45pm

Emergence of a Hidden Child

A presentation of tailored interventions to help an immobilized 5-year-old boy with severe dyspraxia and sensory motor challenges develop capacities to plan, organize and physically execute movement in order to begin expressing his intentionality, thoughts and feelings through relationships in a school setting.

Presenters Lauren Blaszak
12:45pm - 2:00pm


2:00pm - 3:00pm

Redefining Autism from the Movement-Sensing Perspective - The Parent Experience

It is Hard to See the Forest When the Trees are So Loud Nancy Crown, PhD; Clinical Psychologist, Private Practice; Parent of an Adult Daughter with Autism; Assistant Clinical Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Faculty in the Child and Adolescent Program, William Alanson White Institute Based on over 30 years of mothering a daughter on the autism spectrum and making use of her clinical experience as a psychologist, Dr. Crown will share what she has learned trying to understand and parent an autistic child over the developmental passage from infancy to adulthood. Making sense of the impact of sensory-motor experience on communication, movement, relatedness, and the inner life of someone with autism suggests helpful ways parents and practitioners can think about and support people on the spectrum at different stages and leads to hypotheses about the effects of unique sensory processing on dynamics such as attachment, transitional experience, symbolization, and mentalization. The description of the deeply complicated challenge confronting the neurotypical autism parent will provide important insights as well as tools with which to better mentalize and support a parent’s journey, allowing parents in turn, to better mentalize and hold their child’s experience. This presentation does not attempt to speak for people with autism. With the benefit of autism writings by autistic authors, psychodynamic knowledge and practice, developmental theory, and the doggedness of ordinary parental love, you will hear about one mother’s discoveries.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify ways that unique sensory-motor processing may contribute to behaviors and challenges common to children and adults with autism.
  • Describe how knowing a person’s foundational challenges can be useful in parenting, teaching and clinical work with children and adults on the autism spectrum.
  • Discuss the complicated experience of parenting a child with autism and the role of mentalization on this journey
Presenters Nancy Crown
3:00pm - 3:30pm


Coffee & Tea | Bookstore, Book Signing and More

3:00pm - 4:45pm

Workshop 2: What Professionals Need to Know in Developing Partnerships with Parents

How does a therapist, who has not been trained in working with parents, develop skills, comfort and an ability to be appropriately present in the parent work while maintaining focus on the child’s special needs? This session will examine the Parent-Professional early relationships, attunement and attachment; the “we” and parallel process between parent and child and parent and therapist; the development of parent self-esteem; what happens when parents are perceived as not “good enough” and set off uncomfortable feelings for the professional; and the changing roles of parents and impact on participation in the treatment process. This session will offer specific skills in building trusting relationships and their respective roles through reflective process with attention to mindfulness and professional awakenings as a part of evolving partnerships.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Utilize practice skills in developing Professional-Parent relationships over the lifespan given variations in outcomes.
  • List a range of examples/models of Professional-Parent partnerships based both on the parents, the professional and particular circumstances.
  • Discuss reflective practice as it relates to the Professional-Parent relationship over time.
Presenters Ruby Salazar
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Workshop 3: Flying Solo: Connected and Independent

There is an inherent dilemma for parents, teachers, and therapists encouraging autonomy with ANY child, and especially for parents of children with autism and sensory processing disorders. These parents often take higher risks of meltdowns, fear, resulting in overall retreat, regression, or self-absorption. They can ignite not only a momentary calamity but dismantle hard-fought, developmental progress to maintain regulation and engaging contact. The process of Separation-Individuation in typical children is highly applicable to children whose sense of growing independence is compromised by developmental delays. This presentation will focus on how to establish, nurture, and solidify DIR’s Functional Emotional Developmental Levels to advance towards security, exploration, intention, and beyond. At every moment along this road, we all face the dilemma of whether, when, and how to try to do less and have the child do more. Emphasis will be given to when to risk encouraging/not autonomy, moving at one’s own pace, tolerating anxieties that come with these steps, and trusting newfound competence.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the natural process of Separation-Individuation which underlies everyone’s sense of competence and autonomy.
  • List numerous innate obstacles, which makes the path to mastering core functional capabilities for atypical children and their parents a unique struggle.
  • Explain four dilemmas facing caregivers daily whether to do less or more for their children.
Presenters Griff Doyle
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Workshop 4: Circles of Communication: An Integrative Developmental Language Learning Approach for Individuals with Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Differences

Engaging, experience-based interactions rich in auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic opportunities are imperative for developing robust, functional communication. Because individuals with autism have difficulty acquiring adequate speech and language skills through typical interactions, a systematic, supportive approach that mimics the typical developmental process is effective. Circles of Communication combines Neuro-semantic Language Learning Theory, mindfulness strategies, movement routines, DIR-FCD principles, and multi-sensory experiential learning to strengthen language processing pathways and support the use of language as a tool for moving, thinking, initiating, socializing, and communicating.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Summarize the Neuro-semantic Language Learning Theory and the Circles of Communication framework.
  • Create a goal-based movement routine to support mindfulness, regulation, engagement, language comprehension, and motor planning.
  • List multi-sensory language learning strategies that utilize event-based pictures to promote concept development, perspective taking, and motor-planning for task-initiation.
Presenters Amy Pinder
3:30pm - 4:45pm

Workshop 1: Understanding the Developmental Foundations of Interpersonal Connectedness – From Movement to Meaning to Measurement

This presentation focuses on understanding, measuring, and supporting the interpersonal connectedness that anchors all functional emotional developmental processes. This experience of shared affect and meaning is a foundational social function and a core clinical target in all settings. Connectedness arises from motor/action-based behaviors that develop though parent-infant interactions, including shared social timing (synchrony), unconscious mimicry, and coordinated social gaze. The Fielding Connection Coding Paradigm, an easy to measure global connectedness available in an iOS app, will demonstrate its use in a pre and post parent coaching video to discuss intervention strategies that address the intersection of movement differences on shared meaning and social perception.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe three cardinal motor-based features of connectedness: synchrony, unconscious mimicry (imitation), and coordinated social gaze.
  • Explain the early relational foundations of connectedness and the impact of the child’s biologically based motor differences on the unfolding of shared social meaning.
  • Use the Fielding Connection Coding Paradigm as a global measurement of connectedness.
Presenters Josh Feder Elizabeth Osten
Day 02 Oct 29
8:45am - 9:30am

Introduction : From the Movement-Sensing Perspective to Advocacy

Over the last twenty years autism interventions have improved dramatically as research, experience, intuition and the testimonies of people with autism inform our work. We continue to gain a better understanding everyday of the unique sensory, motor and communication profiles of individuals with autism and other developmental and mental health challenges. As a result of progressive therapeutic, educational, medical and technological interventions, more and more people with developmental differences are participating in almost every aspect of society. As parents and professionals, we have strived to build strong foundations of thinking, relating and communicating through the DIR-FCD™ and other developmental and behavioral models. It is now time to raise the bar for our population and prepare them for the broad range of experiences they will encounter out in the world, including those that are not so positive.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • List some of the common social, emotional and behavioral themes adults with developmental disabilities may struggle with in the community.
  • Describe the Foundational Capacities for Development (FCD’s) and how they support development.
  • Discuss how to adapt modifications to provide real-life experiences and strategies (e.g., street smarts) at the right developmental level for each unique individual.
Presenters Monica Osgood
9:30am - 10:00am

Autism and Safety! It’s Time for Awareness and Action!

This plenary presentation will expand on the first presentation and shine a National light on situations all over the country that are prompting change in how we educate law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice professionals and society in general. This includes brief videos provided by NEXT for Autism and ABC Nightline News.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe why increased awareness and training of law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice professionals is needed.
  • Identify key misunderstood behaviors individuals with developmental disabilities may display in challenging situations, specifically out in public, and how they may be misinterpreted.
  • List critical training concepts and strategies to support individuals with developmental delays in the community and how these should be common knowledge in the fields of medicine, mental health, law enforcement, the judiciary system, schools, hospitals and other public environments.
Presenters John Donvan
10:00am - 10:30am

Floreo Police Module | Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool to Improve Police Safety in Adolescents and Adults with ASD

Floreo Technology has developed a Police Safety Module (PSM), an innovative immersive mobile virtual reality (VR) application designed to train police safety in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. While much attention has been paid to the causes and early diagnosis of ASD there remains a clear need for effective interventions for the core symptoms of autism. ASD is a lifelong disorder and adolescents and adults with ASD experience significant challenges in functional living skills. Safe community engagement such as interaction with law enforcement officers represents an area of concern for adolescents and young adults with ASD continuing to struggle with social communication skills.

Presenters Rita Solórzano
10:30am - 11:00am


11:00am - 12:30pm

Helping Developmentally Delayed Adolescents and Adults Improve the Executive Capacities Necessary for Functioning as a Self-reliant Adult

A common assumption about humans is that physical and mental development progress at the same pace such that chronological age can be used as the marker for both physical and mental maturity. Unfortunately, this often is not the case and societal expectations for the transition from adolescence to adulthood often are in conflict with the realities when maturational delays in frontal lobe development are present. Delayed development of executive capacities can negatively impact the social relationships, personal safety, and daily functioning of developmentally delayed adults, and well-intentioned but inappropriate behaviors can sometimes result in legal complications. This brief presentation will highlight those facets of executive capacity development that are the hallmarks of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and the maturational delays that often are experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities. Ways to help developmentally challenged adolescents and young adults develop the executive capacities needed to live independently will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on bridging strategies that can help to reduce dependence on external sources of control and increase an individual’s capacity for selfreliance.

Presenters George McCloskey
12:30pm - 1:30pm


1:30pm - 3:00pm

The New DIR-FCD Goal Bank

The NEW DIR-FCD Goal Bank provides IEP goals in a scope and sequence based on Dr. Greenspan’s and Dr. Wieder’s Functional Emotional Developmental Levels (FEDL’s). This plenary will provide the framework for using the goal bank including how to choose goals, use goals and data sheets to guide staff and parent interactions and track progress. Although the Goal Bank provides goals in a developmental sequence throughout the FEDL’s, the Profectum Foundation FCD principles and strategies, included at each developmental level within the Goal Bank, provide a comprehensive guide to maximizing progress.

3:15pm - 4:15pm

Workshop 1: Experience DIR-FCD Certificate Level 1 (Professional) Training

Meet Profectum Faculty and learn how to integrate the principles and methods of the DIR-FCD model in your therapy or classroom across disciplines through a unique online curriculum and reflective practice. Receive Certificate Level 1 (Professional) course credit and discounted CL1 course fee for attending

3:15pm - 4:15pm

Workshop 2: Integrating the DIR-FCD model into a Public Preschool Setting - Lessons Learned, Evidence, and New Directions

This presentation will illustrate how the DIR model was successfully implemented in a public preschool center in NJ with three dedicated DIRFloortime® classes with trained staff and a DIR® Consultant who is a member of the Profectum Faculty. Participants will observe the progression of three students during a school year or longer through the use of case-based presentations with video, review of baseline and current data, and identification of targeted intervention strategies. The discussion will focus on which factors determine a child’s placement - parental choice, Early Intervention recommendations, Child Study Team Evaluations, and other factors. Methods for staff training including use of the Profectum Parent Toolbox (PPT) with data analysis on the transfer of knowledge using the PPT will be described. Also, administrative factors that support the integration of the DIR-FCD™ model into a public preschool program will be outlined. The successful implementation of DIR® in this public school setting serves as a model for other public, charter and private preschools.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe how the DIR-FCD™ model can be integrated into a public preschool setting, including administrative support, curriculum, staffing, and data standards.
  • Discuss the application of the DIR-FCD™ School Model and the developmental progression of three preschool children via case presentations, with analysis of baseline and current data and targeted intervention strategies.
  • Analyze data from the use of the Profectum Parent Toolbox as a staff training mechanism.
Presenters Susan Smith-Foley
3:15pm - 4:15pm

Workshop 3: Training “Floortime Players” to Support Children in Interactions with Peers: A Model for Camps, Recess, and Social Groups

Facilitating peer interactions is an essential component of Floortime intervention and develops the friendships every parent desires for their child. Summer camp provides the ideal focus for this. This presentation will review the intensive training process to develop “Floortime Players”, both professionals and paras, who serve as key staff in a 4-week DIRFloortime® Summer Camp for children ranging in age from 3 to 23 with the majority being 4 years to 10 years old. There is a morning and afternoon camp session each with 30 campers and 32 players, led by camp director, Rosemary, and a co-leader for each camp. The training process for the players includes 8 hours of pre-camp training, coaching the staff in the moment as they interact with campers, and daily 1-hour reflective tutoring sessions, during which video clips from the previous days sessions are reviewed with key aspects of the model and highlights styles of interaction with the campers and between campers. In addition, Rosemary conducts separate parent nights for the parents with children in the morning camp and for the parents with children in the afternoon camp. The parent nights are during the second week and during the fourth week of camp to review the philosophy of the camp, to share video examples of ways campers are supported and to provide a forum for parent discussion. After camp, if the parent requests, Rosemary will create a video montage of their child’s camper experience illustrating how support was provided and changes over the course of the 4-week camp. Many request this to then share with family and other providers, including their child’s support staff at school.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the essential requirements for training “floortime players” for a DIRFloortime® summer camp and other DIRFloortime® groups.
  • Identify the key elements to include in tutoring “floortime players” as they view video clips of their interactions.
  • Describe effective ways to communicate with parents about their children’s experience and how it relates to the principles and philosophy of DIRFloortime® intervention.
Presenters Rosemary White
3:15pm - 4:15pm

Workshop 4: More DIR-FCD Goal Bank Case Examples and Workshop

This final plenary of the conference will use multiple mini-case presentations from DIR-FCD schools to demonstrate how the structure of the DIR-FCD™ Goal Bank yields consistent developmental gains in all students across a range of ages and socialemotional functioning. Each case will include goals from several developmental levels will illustrating how the (FCD’s) include tailoring the environment, interactions and experiences in a way that fosters the individual’s feelings of Comfort, Competency, Confidence, Control and Communication (5 C’s) as foundational capacities that support each person to maximize his or her development through the Functional, Emotional, Developmental Levels (FEDL’s). The FCD’s are pivotal in developing competencies where movement, motor planning, visual spatial thinking, motor sequences and communication lead to increased availability to, and participation in, the world around them to increase developmental success and independence.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Explain how DIR-FCD IEP goals add critical social, emotional, cognitive and communication goals to a student’s IEP.
  • Describe how yearly and weekly DIR-FCD goals guide intervention and monitor progress.
  • Document the process of assessment, goal development and data collection
4:15pm - 5:15pm

Workshop 5: The Profectum Parent Toolbox (PPT) and Apprentice Courses

The Profectum Foundation new Apprentice Courses are just what you’ve been asking for! Since launching our Profectum Parent Toolbox (PPT) two years ago, a FREE online webcast series and workbook created just for parents, we have received overwhelming feedback on how the PPT is the perfect guide for small group learning. While you can continue to use the PPT online for FREE thanks to a grant from the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, our new Apprentice Courses use the the PPT as the curriculum for four introductory DIR-FCD™ online courses. This workshop provides an introduction to the PPT and the experience of using the webcasts and workbook guided by Senior Profectum Faculty. Upon completion of this workshop, participants may choose to continue the PPT program on their own for free, or join an Apprentice Course to continue with guided learning at a discount for participating in this workshop.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the 4 Steps that demonstrate 16 Key Toolbox Strategies and their implementation in the PPT Webcast series.
  • Describe how the PPT interactive webcasts can be implemented as an adjuvant learning tool with other therapies for implementing strategies that mobilize a child’s relating, communicating and thinking.
  • Utilize the PPT to support parents as they learn interactive strategies with their child.
  • Discuss ways to incorporate the Profectum Parent Toolbox Webcast series for training in clinics and schools
Presenters Rosemary White
4:15pm - 5:15pm

Workshop 6: Advance Your Expertise in the DIR-FCD™ Certificate Level 2 (Fellows) Training

Develop your conceptualization of developmental and mental health challenges with skills focusing on coaching parent mediated intervention, symbolic function and mental health, clinical formulations, long term goals, and enhanced reflective practice. Hear the benefits from graduates. Receive Certificate Level 2 (Fellows) course credit and discounted CL2 course fee for attending.

4:15pm - 5:15pm

Workshop 7: Praxis 101: Praxis for the Non-OT Professional

Though praxis is a concept that is suffused within the DIR-FCD™ model and pediatric OT practice, it often eludes clear definition. This term is commonly used interchangeably with motor planning, and yet, this doesn’t fully capture the complexity of praxis. Present in nearly every aspect of daily functioning, this capacity is nearly invisible, and often occurs outside our awareness. This means it can be very difficult for parents and practitioners to ascribe meaning to the associated emotional and behavioral responses to challenges in this area. This presentation will use discussion and video case examples to provide a practical definition and functional working model of praxis in order to hone the clinician’s observational skills, expand their practice, and bolster their confidence in sharing this integral aspect of a child’s functioning with parents and others professionals.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe a practical plain-language definition of praxis to share with families and other professionals.
  • Describe the ways that deficits in praxis can constrain participation in daily tasks.
  • Describe the influence of praxis on a child’s developing capacity for regulation and mutual engagement.
Presenters Rebecca Berg Kristin McNally
4:15pm - 5:15pm

Workshop 8: Integrating Art Therapy and Floortime to Support Social & Emotional Development, Communication and Self-Expression in Autism Spectrum Disorders in an Educational Setting

This presentation will focus on two interventions, an interactive Floortime approach and Creative Arts therapy. The integrated use of creative and developmental interventions was critical to the development of the Imagine Academy curriculum, particularly due to the complex challenges of students, their anxieties and need to increase self-confidence. Together they could address core components of ASD, including: motor planning and sequencing, executive functioning, developing relationships, capacity for empathy, and affective reciprocity. The principles of creative arts therapy and Floortime will be discussed, followed by techniques to incorporate both into a learning environment in one-to-one situations and group experiences for students across ages and developmental levels. We will provide guidelines for using this intervention in other programs.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify at least 3 goals of using art and play with young children with ASD as both a creative process and a psychological process, to reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.
  • Describe at least 5 techniques to incorporate art- and play-based intervention in a one-to-one or individual session.
  • Describe at least 5 techniques to incorporate art- and play-based intervention in a classroom group setting
Presenters Michele Havens Faith Thayer

General Information