The Participation Summit

Enhancing well-being and participation outcomes for the child and family with a disability

Adopting a neuro-affirmative, strengths-based and family-centred approach is essential to providing high-quality and effective interventions for neurodiverse children and the child and family with a disability. Research shows that interventions which support participation in meaningful activities and are embedded into routine family life are the most effective and place less burden on the child and family.

This two-day summit will put research knowledge and practical strategies in the hands of professionals (Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, and Play Therapists etc.). This in-person summit promises a lively two days packed with ideas and toolkits that you can walk away with!

It will:

  • Empower professionals to untangle the complexity of child development and how environmental experiences shape the brain and influence well-being and participation outcomes.
  • Provide therapists with a toolkit of sensory, motor, and social activities and strategies that they can use with the child/family/educators to enhance child development, well-being and participation outcomes
  • Examine the most powerful active ingredient in therapeutic intervention for the child and family, “the relationship”.
  • Support professionals to create effective partnerships with families that are family-centred, goal-focused and support child development outcomes.
  • Examine how Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, and Play Therapists etc can use an ecosensory approach to support the child and family to manage anxiety, sensory and emotional regulation needs.
  • Summarise the evidence for using a coaching approach with the child and family with a disability.
  • Provide allied health professionals with practical examples and a manual on how to implement coaching strategies into their daily work

The Workshops


DAY 1: Untangling the complexity of child development

This workshop will help Allied Health Professionals (OTs, SLTs, PTs, and Play Therapists) untangle child development’s complexity. Child development is the child’s ability to understand, learn and respond to their changing world. Research shows that family, social, environmental and cultural factors significantly influence child development outcomes. Health professionals can help support these factors so that the child’s ability to learn and respond to their changing world can be maximised. This interactive workshop will enhance participants knowledge of child development and provide a practical toolkit of activity ideas.


Following this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • recognise the complexity of child development
  • describe the contribution of movement and play to enhance performance skills and engagement in daily activities
  • identify the environmental, child and experiential (play/movement/social) factors that influence child development outcomes.
  • To explore how environmental, child-related and occupation-related factors that influence child development outcomes.
  • identify what measurement tools they will use to evaluate developmental progress
  • implement a toolkit of evidence-informed ideas to support play, movement and engagement
Bridget Long
Presenter Bio:

Bridget Long

Bridget has extensive clinical experience in the public and private sectors. Since graduating from Trinity College Dublin in 1997, she developed a particular interest in Child Development and working with children with neurodisability and neurodiversity. Bridget is passionate about the evidence-informed practice and adopts a Family-Centred Practice approach, which incorporates a goal-focused, developmental, and occupation-focused perspective to maximise outcomes across the clinic, schools and home settings.

DAY 1: Using an ecosensory approach to support the child and family manage anxiety, sensory and emotional regulation

This workshop will examine Eco Sensory Therapy as a therapeutic intervention that can support children, young people, and adults to address underlying issues of anxiety, sensory and emotional regulation and/or issues resulting from attachment difficulties, trauma, and physical and mental health needs.

Nature-based environmental experiences contribute to a range of beneficial well-being outcomes, including enhanced self-esteem and confidence, positive and negative affect, stress reduction and restoration, social benefits, and resilience for children and young people (Roberts et al., 2019). Eco Sensory Therapy is a rapidly growing therapeutic intervention provided by occupational therapists, psychologists, and other health professionals to support positive outcomes for the child and family. The approach uses a safe, sensory-rich natural outdoor space to address positive outcomes.  This workshop will include case presentations and outdoor activities to demonstrate a toolkit of activities that professionals can use in their daily work with families.


Following this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Identify how therapists can use this approach with the child and family experiencing anxiety, regulation, attachment difficulties, trauma, or physical and mental health challenges.
  • Identify the importance of the relational approach between the child/family and the therapist to establish trust, regulation, confidence and self-esteem.
  • Select ecosensory strategies and techniques that they can use with the child and family
Niamh Kent
Presenter Bio:

Niamh Kent

Niamh is an occupational therapist who works with children, adults, and families in a beautiful forest setting on the outskirt of Waterford City. Niamh worked for over two decades in mental health services. As a private practitioner, she uses an innovative ecosensory approach in her occupational therapy practice. Niamh is passionate about providing flexible, tailor-made interventions for individuals that support mental health and well-being. Niamh is currently undertaking professional development training to become one of the first ecosensory practitioners in Ireland.

Day 2: Sensory Connections: Understanding the Science and the Art of delivering effective intervention

What is the most powerful active ingredient in intervention for the child and family? “The relationship”. The latest research in neuroscience shows that children’s experiences of play, sensory processing and relationships are embedded in the developing brain (Tooley et al., 2021). The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the neural platform that influences our interpretation of everyday experiences as stressful, traumatic, safe and nurturing (Kok et al., 2013). Thus childhood experiences can broaden or constrain children’s lifelong opportunities to develop social, emotional and motor skills and abilities necessary to live happy and healthy lives. Therapeutic intervention, which merges relational neuroscience, sensory processing and play, has the power to address the most crucial child development outcomes. This workshop will focus on the power of relationships and sensory connections with the child and family to support key child development outcomes.


Following this workshop participants will:

  • Understand sensory processing and the impact it has on the child’s participation and relationships. 
  • Be able to understand the ANS and how the body and brain are connected.
  • Be able to define what regulation and connection mean for therapeutic practice.
  • Be able to identify the importance of an attuned, compassionate therapeutic relationship to support optimal therapeutic outcomes.
  • Be able to design an intervention and select sensory strategies that support children to play, move and engage daily life at home and in school
Emir Crowley & Regina Donnelly
Presenter Bios:

Emir Crowley and Regina Donnelly

Emir Crowley and Regina Donnelly are passionate about evidence-based practice for children and families. They specialise in Occupational Therapy with a family-centred approach based on a relationship and engagement model for children and adolescents.

Emir and Regina are Advanced Mentored Clinicians in Sensory Integration, having completed a mentorship with Dr Lucy Miller and Dr Susan Shoen at the Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, Colorado USA. They also have extensive training in Sensory Attachment Intervention with Eadaoin Breathnach.  In addition, they have trained in Poly Vagal theory and are providers of  Dr Stephen Porges Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP). 

Emir and Regina have acquired over four decades of experience and have a thriving private practice in County Meath. 

Day 2: The essentials of using a coaching approach in family-centred practice

Coaching is an evidence-informed therapeutic approach to support the child and family with a disability. Coaching requires therapists to engage in a positive conversation that assists clients in using their strengths, vision, and desires for the future and generate solutions to their real-life issues. A range of coaching interventions has been implemented successfully across various practice areas. For example, parental coaching to support children with sensory integration difficulties (Allen et al. 2021), working with teachers to provide collaborative training on self-regulation workshops and using Occupational Performance Coaching (Hui et al., 2016), investigating family experiences and outcomes of Solution-Focused Coaching in pediatric rehabilitation (SFC-peds) (King et al., 2021).

This workshop will explore the latest research and practice-based evidence for using a coaching approach. Participants will be able to practice coaching skills and techniques and receive feedback from the presenter on sample case studies.


Following this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • define coaching in the context of family-centred practice
  • name the key characteristics of coaching
  • Identify how a consultation session can use coaching techniques to help families to set goals
  • Select coaching strategies and techniques that support parents/caregivers to enhance their child’s autonomy and involvement in everyday life.
Áine O'Dea
Presenter Bio:

Áine O’Dea – Radiance Consulting Hub

Áine blends her expertise as an occupational therapist with a passion for evidence-based practice to help put knowledge in the hands of occupational therapists. She has authored several academic papers on Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder. Áine contributed to the recently published book Occupational Performance Coaching (Graham et al. 2021) and has completed the training credentials to deliver OPC training workshops. In addition, Áine provides consultancy and coaching services to help allied health managers implement policy and run effective organisations.

1 Day

28th March 2023
9:30 am to 4:00 pm


1 Day

29th March 2023
9:30 am to 4:00 pm


2 Days

28th & 29th March 2023
9:30 am to 4:00 pm


Summit Location and Accommodation

The Participation summit will be held at the Rockfield House.
Rockfield Rd,
Co. Meath

Accommodation Details

If you wish to book accommodation, Rockfield House in Kells provides a reduced rate for delegates: (€75 per person for a single room or €60pp sharing a twin room, including continental breakfast). To avail of the reduced rate, please contact Della by phone at 0861296425.