Differentiating Sensory from Behavior

Debra Johnson, MS, OTR/L

Differentiating Sensory from Behavior

CE Information


Course Brochure

Contains CE information for additional professionals

Course Highlights

  • Understand the latest research as well as the neurological, psychological, and social-emotional foundations for behavior
  • Identify the root of behaviors relating to sensory differences and sensory processing disorders
  • Hands-on interactive labs to effectively treat sensory related behaviors to promote self-regulation in all children
  • Methods to prevent even the most challenging behaviors including task avoidance, emotional outbursts, lack of motivation, not following directions, oppositional responsesand task refusal
  • Integrate a strengths based, problem solving approach with effective treatment methods to support positive treatment outcomes across all settings
  • Educate parents, teachers, and others about the importance of understanding, empathy and skill building for eliminating challenging behaviors

Additional Info

It is estimated that up to 15% of children are labeled with emotional and behavior disorders, exhibiting problem behaviors that interfere with learning, relationships, and participation in daily activities. Many of these children have received multiple diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, ODD and sensory issues. Some of these children are simply labeled as "bad" and left to fall through the cracks. Research showsthat systemic use of outdated approaches to controllingbehaviors are not addressing the needs, while new research is emerging that supports methods teaching skills, fosteringself-regulation and building social-emotional intelligence as ways to significantly reduce the impact of challenging behaviors.

This one day, dynamic workshop will examine current trends and perspectives on behavior and ask you toexamine your own beliefs that influence how you manage behavior in the children you work with, educate, and raise. Participantswill be introduced to a strength-based, problem solvingapproach to addressing behaviors across multiple settings. Drawing on the work of experts in a variety of related fields, this presentation will focus on how to clarify the problem, find solutions, and implement strategies that work. Participants will learn to identify the difference between sensory-based behaviors, how to focus on strengths, best methods for quick solutions, and how to collaborate effectively for continued success. Participants will leave this workshop equippedwith practical, effective strategies you can implement tomorrow.

[ASHA:Intermediate level, Professional Area]
  1. Interpret current neurology, research and trends in behavior management.
  2. Identify the function of specific behaviors as they relate toparticipation in therapeutic activities.
  3. Recognize the difference between sensory-basedbehavior issues and other types of behaviors resulting from conditions such as anxiety, asynchronous development, personality differences, and environmental mismatch.
  4. Implement an effective problem solving strategy foraddressing problem behaviors across settings.
  5. Utilize at least three practical strategies to reduce problembehaviors through eliminating power struggles, increasing motivation, supporting skill development, structuring the environment, and reducing anxiety.
  6. Advocate for children and for empowering families with aholistic framework for understanding and addressing difficult behaviors.
  1. Behavior: Defining the "Problem"
    1. Definitions and perceptions
    2. Common behavior problems in therapy, home, and school
    3. Current research and trends in behavior management
  2. Establishing a New Framework for Behavior
    1. Typical, difference or disorder?
    2. Understanding the message: Behavior as communication
    3. Evaluating context: Behavior doesn't occur in a vacuum
    4. Finding strengths
    5. Problem solving with an expanded tool box
      1. Clarifying the problem
      2. Finding solutions
      3. Support for success
  3. The Problem: Is It Sensory?
    1. Behavior through a "sensory lens"
    2. Sensory processing disorder subtypes and associated behaviors
    3. How motor disorders influence behavior
    4. Modulation: Meltdowns vs tantrums
    5. Sensory diets, strategies and tools
  4. The Problem: When It Isn't Sensory?
    1. Skill deficits
      1. Cognitive delays
      2. Learning disorders
      3. Executive function
      4. Social and emotional skills
      5. Hearing and communication
      6. Vision and perception
    2. Gifted children: Asynchronous development
      1. Over excitabilities
      2. Twice exceptional
    3. Anxiety
    4. Perfectionism
    5. Temperament
    6. Medical and mental health issues
    7. Nutrition
    8. Sleep
    9. Environmental mismatch
    10. Learned behaviors
  5. Solutions: Effective Strategies for Positive Outcomes
    1. Building relationships
    2. Developmental skills
      1. The just right challenge
      2. Scaffolding for growth
    3. Reducing the impact of anxiety
    4. Eliminating power struggles
    5. Increasing motivation and participation
    6. Improving follow through across settings
  6. Step by Step: Problem Solving for Solutions
    1. Empowering families through understanding
    2. Collaborating for success
      1. Referring out to others
      2. Addressing common goals
      3. Advocating for changes
    3. Resources

Debra Johnson, MS, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist with 30 years of experience, specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents with sensory processing disorders and related conditions. She is currently the owner of STEPS for Kids, Inc. located in Yorkville, Illinois where she and her staff use a family-centered approach to improve functional outcomes for children referred for therapy. Ms. Johnson has been providing education on a variety of topics related to development, behavior and sensory processing to professionals and families for over 20 years. She is SIPT certified, STAR Mentorship Level 1 trained, and certified in clinical interventions including; auditory, brain training and handwriting programs, and family advocacy services. Ms. Johnson has experience in a wide variety of settings including hospital, clinic, school, skilled nursing, and home health. Her expertise includes neurorehabilitation, pediatrics, and education. She received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Services Administration from DePaul University in Chicago.


FINANCIAL: Debra Johnson is compensated as the owner of STEP for Kids, Inc. and by Summit as an instructor.

NONFINANCIAL: Debra Johnson has no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

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Content Level: Intermediate

ASHA CE Information

ASHA Continuing Education

Summit Professional Education

Intermediate Level

ASHA CE Provider approval and use of the Brand Block does not imply endorsement of course content, specific products or clinical procedures.

SATISFACTORY COMPLETION: Participants must register, pay tuition fee, sign in with a mobile device via scanning electronic QR code at workshop location, attend the entire workshop, complete an electronic evaluation, as well as any other required state-specific supplements (if applicable) and sign out with a mobile device via scanning electronic QR code in order to receive a certificate of completion. Participants not fulfilling these requirements will not receive a certificate. Failure to sign in or out and complete a course evaluation will result in forfeiture of credit for the entire workshop. No exceptions will be made. Partial credit is not available.

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With that as our foundation, we are proud to now offer Online Continuing Education courses that we believe set a new standard of high quality. Leveraging our exceptional teaching faculty that delivers thousands of live workshops each year (with an average customer satisfaction rating of 4.7 out of 5.0), we have now invested in creating the same exceptional Online course experience.

We deliver Online courses that are both high quality and easy to use:

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Our Online platform is state of the art

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On-Demand: What to Expect

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Continuing Education Credit FAQs

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Online course completions are reported to ASHA following the below schedule:

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Summit offers CE Broker reporting on behalf of FL PTs, OTs, SLPs and ATCs as well as for AL OTs, OH SLPs, SC PTs, OTs and SLPs. Licensees in states/professions outside of these listed should self-report at cebroker.com using the information provided on the certificate of completion. More information can be found here.

Online Course Content FAQs

Is an outline of the course content available before or during viewing?

You can see a course outline on the Product page under the Course Outline tab. After purchase, the course outline is also provided on the media player for watching the course.

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Once you have purchased the course, there is a tab at the bottom of the media player where you can download the manual to save or print for your personal use.

Manual is located in the "Resources" tab

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Most of our courses have hands-on lab content, varying from minimal to significant. By looking at the Course Outline tab on the Product page, you can see how intensive the labs are for each course. During the lab section, we have invested heavily in providing very strong video content (i.e. very tight camera angles) so you can learn along with the live attendees. Depending on the course, you may want to simulate the activities that are presented in the course (which will be noted in the "Before You Start" section of the media player).

Where can I find who is teaching the course and his/her professional credentials?

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Online Video Experience

How long is the course?

Courses range in length from 1-6 hours. You can see the exact length of the course by visiting the course Product page.

Will I need any special materials to take the course?

After purchasing, the any special materials or specific advice is listed at the bottom of the "Course Info" tab.

Can I fast-forward or rewind through the online course?

Yes. For your convenience, you may fast-forward or rewind while watching the course. However, please note you will be required to certify you have watched the entire course to obtain CE credit.

Are there breaks? Can I press pause while watching the course?

There are no formal breaks in the video content. However, there is a pause feature to allow taking breaks at your own convenience.

Can I complete the course over several days? How much time do I have to finish the course?

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Is the online course interactive? Will I be able to ask questions during the course?

The video that you will be watching is a recorded version of a live workshop. The video captures Instructor answers to participant questions, but there is no opportunity for you to ask questions with the instructor, real time. If you do have questions for the instructor, most instructors have their email address at the end of their presentations.

Am I able to re-watch the online courses even after I have completed the post course test and received my certificate?

Once you purchase the online workshop, you have 30 days to view the workshop as many times as you want as well as to review the manual (if you choose not to download while taking the course). For subscribers, your access is unlimited while your subscription is active.

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Test & Certificate

Will I need to take a post course test? Why?

Yes, you are required to successfully pass the post course test to obtain CE credits and certification. This is required by our licensing boards for online courses.

What is the post course test like, what is a passing score, and how many times can I take it?

Post course tests consist of True/False and/or multiple choice questions. You will be able to retake the post course test as many time as necessary to receive a passing grade. A passing "grade" is 75% or higher for general content, 80% or higher for certain state specific workshops, like ethics, jurisprudence, and laws and rules courses. You will be able to retake the post course test as many times as necessary to receive a passing grade.

When will I receive my credits and certificate?

Once you complete your course evaluation and online test, you will be able to immediately download your certificate and request CE Broker or ASHA Reporting (if applicable).

Technical FAQs

What browsers and Operating system do I need to run for this to work properly?

The following are the supported browsers and Operating Systems for the media player to work properly:

  • Internet Explorer 11 or Microsoft Edge 44+ for Windows 10
  • Google Chrome 75.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
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  • Safari 12.0+ for Mac OSX 10.13 and above

Will the media player work on both a Mac and PC?

Yes, the online courses will play on both a Mac and PC. The following are the supported browsers and Operating Systems for the media player to work properly:

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  • Google Chrome 75.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
  • Mozilla Firefox 70.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
  • Safari 12.0+ for Mac OSX 10.13 and above

Can the workshops be played on my phone?

Yes! You are able to watch the workshops on your phone. Here are the technical requirements to ensure it works properly:

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  • Safari on iPadOS 13+
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All of the videos stream from the media player.

How does the streaming video work?

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Because of our streaming video approach, this rarely happens. If it does, it's typically because of customer internet access quality issues and we will provide troubleshooting tips as well as telephone support from our help desk.

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All our courses are available at a number of locations and at various dates. You can also take many of our courses online whether in video or text format. Below are all the available options for

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