2016 – Trauma Informed Approach to Sensory Processing Disorders & Arousal Regulation


Pediatric therapists and other professionals who work with individuals with sensory and developmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum, attention deficit, learning disabilities) often encounter clients with difficulties related to developmental trauma. Traumatic events may be overt, such as early loss of a primary caregiver; sexual, physical or emotional abuse; or domestic, community and school violence.

Trauma may also be innocent, such as early hospitalization and necessary life saving medical procedures in the neonatal intensive care unit. Exposure to adverse life experiences has been shown to increase the likelihood of social, emotional and developmental delays; furthermore, children with developmental delays have a much higher chance of experiencing physical, emotional and sexual abuse. There is a growing understanding and accompanying clinical practice that addresses the connection between sensory processing dysfunction and trauma. When an individual cannot adequately process sensory information or traumatic experiences, the body’s natural defense mechanisms become heightened, further impacting the sensory processing disorder.

This two-day hands-on course will explore, from a trauma informed perspective, the connections between sensory processing and sensory integrative difficulties. We will also provide a brief introduction to the tension reducing technique known as TRE®, as a means of demonstrating how the body retains stress in core muscular tension patterns. This course will investigate the hard wired action systems that underlie sensory modulation, arousal, affect regulation, and play. A clinical reasoning model for tracking dynamic shifts in state and levels of integration will be presented. Interactive, hands-on labs, video and case presentations will bring key concepts and treatment strategiesto life in this theoretically based, yet practical workshop.


Sheila M. Frick, OTR/L

CHOOSE TO LEARN - Sheila M. Frick, OTR

Sheila M. Frick 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.


DAY 1 – Wednesday, November 9, 2016

8:00-10:00Sensory Processing and Developmental Trauma
10:15-12:00Attachment, Attunement, and Sensory Processing
12:00-1:00Lunch (on your own)
1:00-2:30Neurodevelopmental Roots of Defense
2:45-4:30Brief introduction to TRE® and Lab

DAY 2 – Thursday, November 10, 2016

8:30-10:00Developmental Movement Patterns & Regulation
10:15-12:00Integration of Core Defensive Patterns
12:00-1:00Lunch (on your own)
1:00-2:30The Neurology of Primary Play
2:45-4:30Primary Play into Practice: Play Labs


This conference is intended for pediatric occupational therapists and other professionals who work with individuals with sensory and developmental disorders with difficulties related to developmental trauma.
This is an introductory level course. However, knowledge of sensory processing will be very helpful.