Empowering Children & Families with Sensory and Relationship Based Supports

January 13, 2017 9:00am - 4:30pm

*This is a Closed Event for Therapy 2000 Employees Only*

This event is open to all OT/ST/PT including OTAs, SLPAs and PTAs.

Approval has been granted for 6 CEUs by TOTA, 6 CEUs by TSHA, and for 6 CCUs from TPTA.



Jennifer Lawson, OTR, MS & Vanessa Richardson, OTR

Course Location:

Therapy 2000

2535 Lone Star Dr.

Dallas, TX 75212



9:00am to 4:30pm

Course Description:

Let’s be honest, though sometimes it might feel that way, children don’t want to behave ‘badly’. All children are amazing beings, learning to navigate a complex world, one that is filled with sensory, social, emotional, relational and cognitive challenges and opportunities. Each child has a unique neurobiological foundation, along with an individualized experiences that influence that foundation over time.

Some neurobiological foundations are strong and stable, ready to tackle even the greatest of environmental challenges. Some environmental challenges and experiences are too intense for even the most stable neurobiological base.  And then there are neurological foundations that may be compromised from the start. These more fragile systems are less prepared to be flexible and resilient in the face of even the smallest of life’s daily trials and tribulations.

As pediatric therapists, we work with children with various combinations of neurobiological foundation and life experience. We work with children who have medical/health conditions that impact their physical, cognitive, communication, self-care, and/or social emotional abilities. We work with children who experience environmental strain as a result of living in an impoverished environment, one that lacks the nourishment needed from food and shelter, or from safety and love.

Challenging or problematic behavior often causes adults to jump to conclusions about intent, capacity, and choice on the part of the child. It often rattles the neurobiology of the surrounding adults in such a way that the result is an adult reaction (rather than a response) that is unhelpful and ineffective.

How might we view challenging/problematic behavior in a more comprehensive and proactive manner? How do we shift from seeing an issue or a child that needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘managed’ to a complex system with a variety of options and possibilities? Let’s get curious about the interwoven nature of neurobiology and environmental/relational experiences in order to create better interventions and solutions for children and families.

What we know from the science is that relationships matter…a lot. We will be most successful as clinicians if we work from a model that is rooted in the value of relationships and self-regulation.  At any given moment, we are all doing the best we can with the mental, emotional, physical and relational capacity we have.  Challenging behavior is not a choice to be or do ‘bad’, it is a call for help, a sign that something is missing, that better or different strategies are needed, or the environment is not a good fit.

If you are looking for innovative, evidence based ways to enhance the daily lives of children and families and help them be the best they can be, this training is for you. The training will provide background and rationale for a relationship-focused approach, as well as a variety of specific strategies to support children who demonstrate externalizing (aggressiveness toward self, others, environment) or internalizing behaviors (avoidance, shutting down).

About Our Speakers:

Jennifer Lawson, OTR, MS

Clinical Program Director – Occupational Therapy, Autism, Foster Care Support

Jennifer studied Psychology and Spanish as an undergraduate at Indiana University and received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 1996 from the University of Indianapolis. She has worked in pediatrics since 1999 and is currently the Occupational Therapy Program Director & the Autism Spectrum Disorders Program Director for THERAPY 2000, a growing pediatric home health therapy company based in Dallas, Texas. Jennifer guides overall philosophy and delivery of OT programming, as well as therapist training and clinical development. She works with children and families, mentors other therapists, and coordinates the OT student program.

Jennifer’s main area of interest and expertise is in working with children on the Autism Spectrum and their families. This interest and expertise was developed through experiences such as: working for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (North Carolina, with TEACCH and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center as resources); serving on an interdisciplinary team at Mason City Schools Early Childhood Center to develop specialized programming for children with ASD (near Cincinnati, Ohio, with support and resources through the Kelly O’Leary Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and OCALI, the Ohio Center for Autism & Low Incidence), and serving as primary In-Home/Parent Trainer for McKinney ISD. Jennifer believes strongly in the importance and power of the therapeutic relationship, and provides mentoring and training in this area as well. Jennifer has been a Registered Yoga Teacher since 2006 and a yoga studio owner in the Dallas area since 2011.

Vanessa Richardson, OTR

Executive Director of Clinical Excellence and Quality Assurance

Vanessa earned her degree in 1983 from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She has been an Occupational Therapist and a Leader in a variety of settings, including pediatric outpatient clinics, school districts, children’s hospitals, early childhood intervention programs, a private practice, pediatric home health agencies and her State Professional Organization (TOTA).  Special skills include SIPT certification, autism treatment, early childhood intervention and staff development.  She is a member of TOTA, TAHC&H and AOTA.

She serves as an OT mentor/supervisor, sensory processing consultant and enjoys developing education programs for therapists and parents.  She has presented to parents and professionals in the Northeast Texas region on a variety of topics.

Vanessa has had several roles in THERAPY 2000, including staff therapist, Division Manager, Executive Director of Operations, Regional Vice President and has recently taken on the role of Executive Director of Clinical Excellence and Quality Assurance. She is responsible for the development, management and implementation of THERAPY 2000’s risk management, compliance and quality assurance processes and policies. She is also leading the Clinical Program Directors as they ensure that THERAPY 2000 is constantly striving to remain the leader in Clinical Excellence.

Learner Objectives:

  1. Describe challenging/problematic behavior through the lens of neurobiology and environmental/relational experience
  2. Identify two ways in which their current approaches to challenging behavior may be missing the mark and provide alternative solutions
  3. List and describe three strategies to support a fragile neurobiological foundation in order to promote self-regulation
  4. List and describe three strategies to support a child who has/has had unstable environmental/relational experiences in order to enhance trust and build relationships





“Based on our CEU application method, TSHA requires all speech professionals miss no more than 10 minutes of class to receive full credit. Partial credit is not available for speech therapistsIf you are late to class at start or after break by more than 10 minutes, no credit can be granted, although you are still warmly welcome to attend.”

Thank You for your understanding of this externally mandated requirement.


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