Conference Showcases Neurodevelopmental Treatment Models For Special Needs

By Christina Elston

Profectum special needsParents can learn new ways to support children with neurodevelopmental differences at “The Power and Promise of Neurodevelopmental Approaches” March 13-15. The conference is hosted by the Profectum Foundation, a group of parents and practitioners dedicated to training and research.

“Our hope is to bring world-class researchers to the conference and show parents and professionals how to better understand their children with special emotional, developmental or physical needs,” says clinical psychologist Mona Delahooke, Ph.D., a Profectum member who practices in Arcadia. The conference is designed to support parents of children with special needs including, but not limited to, autism.

The conference will be weighted equally toward parents and professionals. “All presentations by researchers will be followed by video-based examples of how to work with your individual child if you are a  parent,” Delahooke says.  Friday’s program will emphasize infants, toddlers and school-age children. Saturday will focus on teens and young adults, and how to support growth and independence as children transition to adulthood. Sunday will feature three-hour workshops that delve into critical developmental skills such as:

  • Supporting communication in your child,
  • Facilitating peer interactions
  • Nurturing a joyful and solid relationship with your child,
  • Helping your child engage in pretend play, and
  • Preparing IEP goals.

Parents attending the conference can expect to learn about the Developmental, Individual-differences, Relationship-based (DIR) model of therapy. “This is a model supported by current knowledge of the importance of supporting relationships and respecting children’s unique differences,” says Delahooke. “This model stands in contrast to behavioral approaches that only look at behaviors (punishment and reward systems in shaping children’s behaviors). Behavioral approaches have limitations as they do not consider the critical impact of children’s emotions, sensory integration and brain development. Parents can learn how to support emotional regulation (staying calm and alert) in their child.”

Professionals, parents and individuals with special needs will discuss:

  • Ways to customize treatment for each child and family,
  • How neuroscience can provide a treatment roadmap and a new way to understand how to prioritize therapy goals,
  • How sensory processing is linked to emotions, communication and growth; and
  • What it means to presume competence and value neurodiversity.

Parents will have the opportunity to network and meet professionals and other parents in this engaging and supportive weekend.

The conference takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St. Registration is $195 per day, or $395 for all three days. Learn more at

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