Making Sense of Autism

About Susan


Susan received her B.S. in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University in 1969, at which time she was also recognized in Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges. She graduated summa cum laude with a M.Ed. in Special Education Technology at George Mason University in 1995. She has been certified by Sensory Integration International in both the Southern California Sensory Integration Tests and Sensory Integration and Praxia Tests.

Susan has worked over 33 years as an occupational therapist, primarily as a school-based therapist, but also as a therapist in a psychiatric setting, as a university instructor, contract therapist, private practitioner, pre-school teacher/director, and most recently, as OT coordinator at the Mesa site for The Children's Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies. CCNS is a private clinic/school for children with sensory integration difficulties. It serves primarily children on the autism spectrum. Although Susan's focus now is on the development of Making Sense of Autism Workshops, she continues to be involved in the research being conducted at CCNS in the area of sensory integration.

During her school-based practice years, Susan was instrumental in the development of an eventually-nation-wide educationally relevant model of therapy service which brought therapists into the classrooms and out of the medically-oriented clinical model of service delivery. (For a good example of an educationally relevant model of therapy service, click here). Susan also contributed to the development of a pre-referral Helping Hands" source book for educators, loaded with assistive technology devices that can benefit children with sensory processing difficulties in the classroom.


"The Role of a Support Network in Developing Positive Attitudes Toward Inclusion of Students Requiring Varying Degrees of Accommodation in Regular Education Classes", Master's Thesis, George Mason University (August 1995).

Co-authored "How to Meet a Student's Needs by Asking the Right Questions," AOTA Self-Study Series: School-Based Practice for Related Services, Lesson 3, American Occupational Therapy Association, 1991.

Contributed material to the book "Women From Another Planet?: Our Lives in the Universe of Autism",, 2003.


OT-related presentations: Susan has presented as primary speaker, co-speaker, or panel participant to fellow therapists, parents and educators on the following topics: occupational therapy, sensory integration with students with severe disabilities, accountability and program effectiveness, educationally relevant therapy, making a system change, transdisciplinary team building, strategies to enhance reading and writing readiness, support strategies for inclusion, use of assistive technology, and O.T. strategies for middle and high school students.

Autism-related presentations: Autreat presentations include "Using Sensory Integration Strategies to Cope in a Neurotypical World" (2000); "Developing an IEP for Yourself (if you are over 18) or Your Child Based on Autistic Strengths Rather Than Disabilities" (2002); "Designing Your Own Sensory Diet (And How to Make It Work)" (2003); "Understanding How Plants Can Facilitate Connections in Autistic children and adults" (2004). Additional presentations include "Asperger's: An Inside Perspective" at the AzOTA annual conference (September 2003) and "Dealing with Asperger's in the Classroom" at the Phoenix Autism Society of America conference (January 2004).

Current workshops in Phoenix: Click here