Moms create national conference for kids with special needs

Erika Larson and Lorell Marin want to show everyone that relationship-based, play-based therapy really works for kids with autism, sensory processing disorder and executive functioning disorder.

That’s why they created the National Pediatric Developmental Differences Forum, which is holding its inaugural conference Oct. 22-24 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center. At the conference, parents of children with special needs will be surrounded by professionals in the field who want to share and learn how best to help kids.

“When working with children with developmental differences, often behavioral approaches are the only approaches that are recommended by pediatricians. We have built our careers on relationship-based therapies, knowing that they work and seeing kids make progress,” says Larson, who with Marin, is a special educator and developmental therapist at LEEP Forward in Chicago.

Larson says the conference will present research on new interventions that work for kids struggling with autism, sensory processing disorder and executive function as well as new studies focused on relationship-based therapies.

“Parents are going to walk away with a new set of tools in their toolbox on what to do with their children and how best to support their children,” Larson says. “… They will understand how to better help their children through play-based therapy as well how to incorporate the therapies into school programs.”

Only a few seats remain. Register at

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