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Digital Seminar

Sensorimotor Interventions to Improve Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Functioning: Neurological Approaches for Children and Adolescents with Autism

Varleisha Lyons, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, ASDCS
2 Hours 03 Minutes
Audio and Video
Apr 22, 2021
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Digital Seminar
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Join author and expert Varleisha Gibbs PhD, OTD, OTR/L, as she teaches you how to skillfully apply strength-based sensorimotor interventions for improving social, emotional, and cognitive function in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, Dr. Gibbs will guide you through the underlying neuroanatomical connections to help you better select and develop appropriate interventions.

You’ll learn: 

  • Activation of the Vagus nerve, music and movement techniques, and breathwork for emotional regulation and social participation 
  • New self-regulation and mindfulness techniques to support arousal levels along with new assessments and treatments to organize daily interventions 
  • Environmental modifications to support optimal function of children with autism 

Dr. Gibbs will share techniques from her books Self-Regulation and Mindfulness (PESI Publishing & Media, Summer 2017) and from her latest book on Trauma Treatment in ACTION (PESI Publishing & Media, 2021). 


- PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 2.25 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



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Varleisha D. Lyons (formerly Gibbs), PhD, OTD, OTR/L, ASDCS, is an occupational therapist and author with over 20 years of experience working with children and adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory processing disorders and neurological disorders. She developed and founded Delaware’s first occupational therapy program and became the first black indigenous American woman to serve as the Scientific Programs Officer at the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Currently, she is the Vice President of Diversity Equity Inclusion Justice Access and Belonging at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Varleisha continues to lecture and provides training on sensory processing strategies and self-regulation to practitioners, parents, and teachers throughout the country and internationally. As co-author of Raising Kids with Sensory Processing Disorders, she has provided families with strategies to understand and care for their children. Dr. Lyons is the developer of the Self-Regulation and Mindfulness program and author of the best-selling book, Self-Regulation and Mindfulness: Exercises and Worksheets for Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (PESI Publishing & Media). She is the co-author of Trauma Treatment in ACTION: Over 85 Activities to Move Clients Toward Healing, Growth and Improved Functioning (PESI Publishing & Media). Her areas of expertise include neuroanatomy, self-regulation strategies across the lifespan, health inequities, and trauma responsive approaches.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this presentation belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. Varleisha D. Lyons PhD, OTR/L is employed by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This work is independent of her role and not affiliated with AOTA, Inc.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Varleisha Lyons has employment relationships with the American Occupational Therapy Association and VDTG, Inc. She receives royalties as a published author. Dr. Lyons receives a speaking honorarium, recording and book royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Varleisha Lyons is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the National Black Occupational Therapy Caucus. She serves on the advisory board of George Washington University Programs in Occupational Therapy and is a board member of the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action.


  1. Demonstrate the neurological connection to the various sensory strategies for treating children and adolescents diagnosed with autism.
  2. Employ treatment techniques such as mindfulness, activation of the Vagus nerve, music and movement, and respiratory-based techniques to improve client level of functioning.
  3. Integrate environmental modifications to support optimal function of children with autism.
  4. Assess the cause and effect of intervention techniques as they relate to neurological function.


  • Variations in the Presentations of Autism 
    • Impact on appropriate selection of intervention 
    • Looking at the duality of function and dysfunction 
    • Neurological connections to emotions and sensorimotor function 
  • Tools for Assessing: 
    • Areas of strength and areas revealing potential for growth 
    • Environment and context to identify opportunities for adaptation and modification 
    • Arousal levels assessment tool: Concrete method used for daily schedules and to organize daily interventions 
  • Neurological Connection to Treatment Planning 
    • Sensorimotor strategies to address the individual needs of children and families 
    • Adapt and modify activities and the environment to support the child’s needs 
    • New interventions for vestibular, interoception, proprioceptive, auditory, smell and vision work 
    • The Self-Regulation & Mindfulness program    
    • Addressing primitive reflexes   

Target Audience

  • Licensed Clinical/Mental Health Counselors 
  • Marriage & Family Therapists 
  • Occupational Therapists 
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants 
  • Physical Therapists 
  • Physical Therapist Assistants 
  • Psychologists 
  • Social Workers 
  • Speech-Language Pathologists 
  • Teachers/School-Based Personnel 

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