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Dear Friends of The SPD Foundation,

We said 2011 would be “heaven” and it sure was for us!

Our new building at 5420 S. Quebec St, Suite 135, Greenwood Village, CO 80111

One of our biggest events in 2011 was moving to our new location. The Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation along with our partner, The STAR Center, which provides treatment for SPD, moved into our new location in Greenwood Village, Colorado in May. It has been a truly wonderful transition for our two organizations. We are looking forward to collaborating with the award winning inclusive playground company, , to build an outdoor sensory playground, bringing therapy, research and parent education into a truly natural setting.

Here’s a look back at 2011 and our “heavenly” accomplishments.



The SPD Foundation Research Institute has the only full time research program in Sensory Processing Disorder in the world that is co-located with a clinical facility. That means we can easily ask parents of children with SPD if they would like to participate in our studies. Our research is related to the diagnosis and treatment of Sensory Processing Disorder. Because of our own credibility and our ongoing connection to the Wallace Research Foundation (WRF) we have served as a referral source for the Wallace Research Foundation’s funding for new proposals. Thus, we can attract senior researchers to studying SPD. All of these researchers obtained funding for pilot work from WRF and became members of the Scientific Work Group. Momentum is growing and the group of scientist studying SPD has grown from one or two to over thirty-five groups.

The SPD Foundation is currently re-working the vision and mission to reflect that we are a conduit through which others become interested in SPD. Also importantly, we can look at the total picture and decide which areas of study are most needed. Then we work to recruit a well-known and prolific researcher to our scientific work group. This strategy helps to insure that the study of SPD is self-sustaining. In terms of our own contributions to the science of SPD, the SPD Foundation Research Institute has focused and will continue to focus on three primary activities:

1. To conduct physiologic and behavioral research to help clarify issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of SPD
2. To collaborate with high-level scientists to answer specific questions and
3. To facilitate already funded researchers to add SPD into their existing programs of research.


Current additions to our list of publications include:

Miller, L.J., Nielsen, D. M. and Schoen, S.A. (2012).. Research in Developmental Disabilities.    

Miller, L.J., Schoen, S.A. and Nielsen, D.M. Sensory Processing Disorder: Implications for Multisensory Function. The New Handbook of Multisensory Integration. B Stein et al, [Eds].(In Press)

Schoen, S. A., Miller, L.J. and Nielsen, D.M. Occupational Therapy with a Sensory Integration Approach. Exploring the Spectrum of Autism and Pervasive Development Disorders – Intervention Strategies – 2nd edition. Carolyn Murray-Slutsky and Betty Paris [Eds.].(In Press)

James, K., Miller, L.J., Schaaf, R.C., Nielsen, D.M. and Schoen, S.A. (2011). . Comprehensive Psychiatry. 52, 715-724.

2011 brought new members to the Scientific Work Group, new collaborations and expansion to existing collaborations. Our newest collaboration is with Baylor College of Medicine – Houston, Texas. In conjunction with the Eagleman laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine, we will be examining the question of whether Sensory Processing Disorder is an inherited condition. Read more about the Baylor collaboration in Dr. Sarah Schoen’s in this issue of Sensations.

I want to take just a moment to publicly thank the members of the Research Institute, Dr. Sarah Schoen, Dr. Darci Nielsen, and Ms. Mariah Davidson for their dedication to the many aspects of SPD research and treatment effectiveness studies.



The SPD Foundation conducts an active program of sensational public and professional education that includes international symposiums, e-Learning programs, Intensive Mentorship programs, and regional workshops.


Intensive Mentorship Program

Our Mentorship program is a unique opportunity to receive training in assessment and intervention for SPD during an intensive, one-week program at the SPD Foundation and its treatment facility, STAR Center. Intensive Mentorships include a combination of didactic lectures sessions by researchers at the SPD Foundation and mentored clinical experiences at STAR Center. In 2011 we hosted 76 professionals from around the world and the US who participated in our Level 1 and Level 2 Intensive Mentorship programs.  We usually receive top-notch recommendations from our Mentees. Once they leave us many of them say that their practices change in exceedingly dramatic ways.


The S.O.S. (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding Conferences

The SPD Foundation is proud to sponsor education programs featuring Kay A. Toomey, PhD, and Erin Ross, PhD, SLP-CCC. Dr. Toomey is a Pediatric Psychologist and the Director of SOS Feeding Solutions at the STAR Center. Dr. Toomey developed the SOS Approach to Feeding as a transdisciplinary program for assessing and treating children with feeding problems and is internationally renowned for her work in this area. We conducted two SOS feeding conferences in 2011 and trained over 160 speech therapists, occupational therapists, special educators and registered dieticians who are now skilled in the SOS Approach to Feeding model!



Our international symposiums showcase presentations from leaders in SPD research and intervention who are affiliated with the most prestigious universities and organizations around the globe. In 2011 our symposiums were in Austin, Texas and in Fort Lauderdale.  As always we enjoy meeting new people in the new communities we visit, and are gratified by the support of those who return year after year. And there is so much more to learn and share…join us in Boston and Sacramento this year!

Our symposiums are three days long, usually offering a pre-symposium institute or parent workshop the first day plus two confererence days.



DSM Submission

We are still awaiting final word from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) concerning whether or not Sensory Processing Disorder will be included in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), due to come out in 2013. We started in 2007 by submitting a 30-page application to the APA for diagnostic recognition of SPD. Since then, in 2008, 2010 and again in 2011 we submitted updates describing the most up to date research on SPD. Although we still don’t know whether or not SPD will be recognized as a new or novel diagnosis, we believe it is quite likely that two of the SPD subtypes (Sensory Over-Responsivity and Sensory Under-Responsivity) will be included as associated features of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. This will be a very big step indeed and one we have been working toward for a decade! Read all the latest information on the DSM Central.


Parent Program – SPD-Parent Connections

In 2011, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Sensory Processing Disorder-Parent Connections Program (SPD-PC). SPD-PC is a grassroots network with active groups in more than 80 U.S. communities and several foreign countries. SPD Parent Connections provides information and resources for families located near the group host. Our parent coordinator, Carrie Fannin was instrumental in the inception of this program in 2000. With Carrie’s guidance, we added close to 20 new hosts in 2011! We look forward to the continued growth of this program to further develop educational resources and to reach many more families!


Fundraising Activities

Our fundraising efforts in 2011 produced some great results!


When you join the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, you help underwrite services that improve the lives of children, adults, and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder. As a member, you also enjoy exclusive benefits. (See more details about our membership program on the membership page of our website.

Also, please visit our Sensory Products page to see all of our business members. Thank you business members for all of your continued support: , Soft Clothing, Dream Catcher Weighted Blankets, Sensory Processing Activities and Information, , , SPIO, Keep Me Kozy and Prince’s Sensory Delights. You can view more information about these members on the Sensory Products page of our website. A very special thank you goes out to Sommerfly for donating a portion of their sales to the SPD Foundation.

Thank you, Caraly Walker, our executive assistant and administrative assistant for the stellar work involved in the daily administrative tasks of keeping us all organized. If you have ever called the SPD foundation, I bet you have talked to Caraly! She is the voice who connects you to us! Organized, and efficient, Caraly is truly a joy to be around as well as being super competent!


Our 3rd Annual Sensational Summer Concert featuring Coles Whalen was held at the Hard Rock Café in downtown Denver in August. Over 250 guests attended! We also had our first ever 5K Walk in October with over 150 participants.

Coles Whalen in Concert at Hard Rock Cafe, Denver. Photo Courtesy of McBoat Photography

We participated in two online charity events in 2011. One was the Vivint Gives Back program, which offered large cash prizes to the charities with the most votes over the course of 3 months, plus matching donation days. The other online program was Colorado Gives Day, a one-day initiative to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. All credit card fees were waved for this day so 100% of the proceeds went directly to the organizations. There were opportunities for other cash prizes on this day as well.


October is sensory awareness month and for the past three years we have asked supporters to organize sensory awareness/fundraising events, which we call Sensation Celebrations. These Sensation Celebrations take place all over the world and run the gamut of educational events such as workshops, 5K races, and a Trunk or Treat Halloween event. Jennie Harding’s Trunk or Treat event alone raised almost $1300!

5K Walk, Courtesy of McBoat Photography

And at the end of every year, we ask that you remember the SPD Foundation in your annual charitable giving. We are so blessed to have so many donors giving at this time. Through all of these fundraising activities we raised more than $105,000 in 2011! A huge thank you goes out to everyone who participated in supporting the Foundation so that our mission of research, education and advocacy for Sensory Processing Disorder will continue.

And last but not least, a big thank you to Susanne Geiler, Communication Program Manager, (who makes sure you get the Sensation e-Newsletter three times a year), Sue Coffaro, Operations Manager and once again, the amazing SPDF staff for their dedication to the success of these events. 

We are excited and encouraged for what our future holds and we thank all of you who continue to help us make our dreams come true.


Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR
Founder and Executive Director 


Save the date - Boston Symposium 2012

Save the date - Florida Symposium 2011

The S.O.S. (Sequential Oral Sensory approach to feeding conference

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