Sandra Edwards Colloquium features insights from sensory processing and integration experts

Zoom screen capture of participantsThe University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions department of occupational therapy held its seventh annual Sandra Edwards Colloquium January 28 as a live, virtual event featuring recent research advancements and practice challenges in the field of sensory processing and integration.

The colloquium brings together clinicians, scientists, faculty and students to discuss best evidence and practice in occupational therapy.

“The colloquium attendees are a good mixture of researchers, students and clinicians, which created a great platform to facilitate the transfer of scientific evidence to support classroom learning and clinical practice,” said colloquium organizer Chiung-ju (CJ) Liu, Ph.D., OTR/L, FGSA, an associate professor in the PHHP department of occupational therapy.

Nearly 200 people participated in this year’s event, which featured keynote presenter Grace Baranek, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, associate dean, chair and the Mrs. T.H. Chan Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. Baranek is a prolific scholar and expert on sensory features of children with autism and the longitudinal impacts on child and family outcomes.

Sensory processing disorder is characterized by the brain’s inability to receive and respond to information from the body’s senses. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, deficits in sensory integration can pose challenges in performing activities of daily living and may affect development, learning, playing, working, socializing and exhibiting appropriate behavior.

In addition to Baranek, colloquium speakers included:

  • Gustavo Reinoso, Ph.D., OTR/L, an associate professor at the Nova Southeastern University Clearwater department of occupational therapy, and an expert in sensory processing and integration who delivers education and services to clinicians and families around the world. He is also the co-author of two standardized assessments of sensory integration.
  • Stefanie Bodison, O.T.D., OTR/L, an assistant professor in the PHHP department of occupational therapy, and an internationally renowned expert in sensory integration theory, assessment and intervention. Her research program uses multimodal neuroimaging methods to investigate the neural correlates of sensory processing as a foundation for the development of sensorimotor and social-emotional skills.
  • Michelle Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Western Michigan University occupational therapy department and co-director of the Resiliency Center for Families and Children. She has focused her career on service provision, research and teaching related to improving the lives of the pediatric population through participation in meaningful occupation.

The colloquium is made possible by a gift from Al Garcia in recognition of his wife, Sandra Edwards, M.A., OTR, FAOTA, a 1965 graduate of the UF OT program, and her many contributions to the occupational therapy profession.

“We are thankful to convene this colloquium, every year, now for the seventh time. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how UF’s department of occupational therapy  provides a platform to showcase excellent science and celebrate best clinical practices, while also setting research agendas and offering calls to action for the profession,” said Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., M.P.H., OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA, professor and chair of the department of occupational therapy.