Fun with Food!

Sensory Integrative and Neuromotor

Approach to Feeding

Date and location to be announced soon!!

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Presented by Joan M. Surfus, OTD, OTR/L, SWC

Welcome   |   Presenter   |   What's Included   |   Itinerary    |   FAQ    |   Accommodations

Are you ready to learn cutting edge evidence based practice in the area of pediatric feeding while enjoying a retreat?  Enjoy luxurious accommodations with other clinical professionals, nutritious meals, free time to participate in a plethora of rejuvenating activities for the mind, body and spirit.  Sensory integration describes the process of receiving and organizing sensory information from our bodies and the environment. When children struggle at mealtime it is often due to sensory-based issues that present as gagging, limiting their food repertoire, over-stuffing their mouth, or refusing to eat. This is often interpreted as a behavior problem. However, it can be due to sensory integration deficits. Children with neuromotor disorders also struggle with feeding, eating, and mealtime participation.  Whether a sensory-based or neuromotor problem, children and families struggle in mealtime participation.

Boutique Learning Experience presents Fun with Food!

Dr. Surfus is an expert in the area of feeding and eating.  Energetic and interactive presentations are created from years of clinical practice and experience teaching students and therapists from around the globe.  She uses videos, participation labs, practical application and case studies for an interactive learning experience.  Feeding is one of our most integral yet basic activities of daily living.  You will learn practical strategies, coaching tips for parents and how to help alleviate mealtime stress on the whole family.  An eclectic use of therapeutic models allows for feeding regimes to be tailored to the child and family to meet their social, cultural and physical needs.  While we dive deep into this challenging area of expertise and develop a community of experts, we also address work life balance.  Learn new things while rejuvenating and pampering yourself and return to work invigorated with a new network of colleagues working in the same specialty area from across the nation!  Only 12 attendees!

Come learn and live life with us!

Learning Objectives /Outcomes

1. Understand the relationship of the sensory systems on feeding and eating 2. Understand the development of the assessment and treatment sequence needed for children with sensory-based feeding issues 3. Understand the relationship between the parent and child and how it may impact the mealtime experience 4. Understand the development of the assessment and treatment sequence needed for children with neuromotor feeding issues 5. Develop intervention strategies to address the needs of children with sensory-based and neuromotor feeding issues 6. Develop strategies needed for families (home programs) to support your intervention 7. Increase clinical reasoning through video case reviews

Retreat length: 5 days 4 nights (18 hours of continuing education) Presenter:  Joan M. Surfus, OTD, OTR/L, SWC Target audience: Pediatric occupational therapists or speech and language therapists Level: Intermediate Prerequisites: Basic knowledge feeding and swallowing; helpful if clinician has prior training in sensory integration theory and/or treatment

About the presenter

Joan Surfus, OTD, OTR/L, SWC has been practicing in pediatrics for over 25 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and her Master’s and Clinical Doctorate from Misericordia University. Dr. Surfus is the Clinical Coordinator of Occupational Therapy and the feeding specialist at Pediatric Therapy Network in Torrance, California and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy in the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.  Her focus has been in pediatric intervention with an emphasis in sensory integration, feeding, oral-motor and dysphagia, and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Surfus is certified to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) and a prior instructor for USC/WPS Sensory Integration Certification Program and current instructor for the Chan USC Sensory Integration Certification. She teaches regularly in these areas both nationally and internationally. Dr. Surfus spends her free time volunteering abroad, providing services for children with special needs and training staff at a school in Honduras. She also provides volunteer teaching and training in Russia with Naked Heart Foundation.

What’s Included?

Mindfulness Training

Daily mindfulness experience will be offered including yoga and meditation while other forms are worked seamlessly into the day.

Private Chef

3 delicious dinners and 3 nutritious lunches are provided by the resident chef.  Daily continental breakfast provided. Time to refuel!

Pamper Package

Swag bag, luxury toiletries, coffee, tea and lemon water. The little things to make your stay oh so sweet!

4 Restful Nights

Shared or private room to rest your head at night.  Robe, slippers, lavender spray on your pillow, sweet dreams.


Daily yoga or bar class will be offered on site.  Guided run or fitness walk. Bike, stretch, breathe, choose what makes you smile.

Post-Retreat Learning

5 online sessions lead by Dr. Surfus discussing application of learning to your clients, what worked, what can we change. Lets problem solve together!

Daily Excursions

Will have many adventures to explore. Try a kayak, canue or SUP board.  Take a cruiser bike ride or hike in local nature reserve.

Airport Shuttle

Just land and we will take care of you.  Shuttle service to and from the airport.

Community of Experts

18 hours of continuing education. Collaborate, network and create community with others in the same field of expertise.  Let’s advance the profession together!

Your Itinerary

4:00 pm –  Check in

6:00 pm –  Introduction; Orientation (tapas will be served)

8:00 pm – Yoga (optional)

Activities: Relax, today you begin your adventure.  Unpack, settle in and put your feet up.  Enjoy!

6:00 am – Yoga*

7:00 am – Breakfast

8:00 am – Lecture
-Correlating Sensory Systems to Feeding Issues
-The Picky, Resistant, and Rigid/Inflexible Eater

10:00 am –  Break

10:15 pm – Lecture/ Case Study
-Video Observations:  What do you see?
-“Behavior” – What is the child really telling you?
-Case discussion

12:15 pm – Lunch

1:15 pm – Activities*

5:00 pm – Lecture
-Intervention Strategies – Examples and Samples- Fun with Food!

7:00 pm – Dinner

Activities: Special activities to be revealed!  Read a book, take a nap, journal or visit the spa.  Do what makes you happy!

*Optional and may change due to weather and availability.

6:00 am – Bar class/ core workout*

7:00 am – Breakfast

8:00 am – Lecture
-Review/ questions
-Video observation: A closer look…
-Assessment treatment sequence: Where do I start?

10:00 am – Break

10:15 am – Lecture/ Case Study
-Utilizing the Parent Mealtime Questionnaire and 3-Day feeding diary
-Fitting feeding into daily life
-Case study- Putting it all together

12:15 pm – Lunch

1:15 pm – Activities*

5:00 pm – Lecture
-Treatment: case discussion, video review planning
-Case discussions

7:00pm – Dinner

Activities: Special activities to be revealed!  Read a book, take a nap, journal or visit the spa.  Do what makes you happy!

*Optional and may change due to weather and availability.

6:00 am – Yoga*

7:00 am – Breakfast

8:00 am – Lecture Review – Questions
-Common Feeding Issues in Children with Neuromotor Issues
-Positioning – Key to success
-Assessment – Where to start?

10:00 am – Break

10:15 am – Lecture
-Intervention – Balancing Therapeutic and Family Priorities
-Family and Caregiver Participation

12:30 pm – Lunch & Activities

5:00 pm – Evening Activity TBD

7:00 pm  – Dinner

6:00 am – Sunrise yoga (optional)

7:00 am – Breakfast

8:00-10:00am – Lecture
-Case study-groups
-Case study presentation

12:00pm – Departure

We look forward to catching up via our online seminar!  Thank you for joining us!

~  Bon Voyage!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not answered here, please get in touch!

What are the different room options?

The Shared Room is for anyone who is open to sharing a bedroom and bathroom with other clinicians. The Private Room is for one or two people who are traveling together and want a private space.

How many continuing education hours will I receive?

There will be a total of 18 couninuing education hours during the retreat.  A certificate will be awarded at the end of the retreat.  A letter will be provided detailing the hours of training received, and what was taught in those hours that can be given to your employer or kept in your continuing education file.  There will be an additional 5 hours of online training and discussion that will be held throughout the year.  It is the responsibility of the licensee to determine if the course meets all of the content requirements or restrictions imposed by an individuals licensing board.


How many people will be attending this retreat?

For developing a community of expert therapists there will be no more than 12 attendees.

What if I have food allergies, dietary restrictions?

Please communicate any food allergies or restrictions prior to arrival.  Accommodations will be made.

What if I have special needs or circumstances?

Please contact us with any special needs.

How should I schedule my retreat arrival and departure?

Check-in to the estate begins at 4pm.  The retreat begins with a welcome meeting the first evening at 6:00pm with tapas. It wraps up late morning, around 10 am for a 12 pm departure.   Please make sure you are able to secure flights that allow you to be present for all activities so we can keep the group in connection from start to finish.

What should I pack?

  • What ever you need for your own learning
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Preferred notetaking media
  • Active wear
  • Sun hat
  • Sneakers
  • Yoga mat (if possible and desired)
  • Sun glasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Warm layer
  • Windbreaker
  • Swimsuit

What if I’m not an advanced practitioner? May I still join?

The presentation is not tailored to the beginning practitioner however we will try and accommodate the needs and learning if necessary.

Are there payment plans available?

A non refundable $500 dollar deposit will be necessary upon initial booking.   Full tuition will be required 45 days prior to arrival.  After that time there will be no refunds.

Can I share a room with a friend?

There is a discount to book with a friend!  If you would like to share a private room with private ensuite you will save! Please note these rooms only have one bed.  The private rooms will be limited so book early!


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New location

to be announced