Fun with Food!

Sensory Integrative and Neuromotor

Approach to Feeding

To be announced soon!

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

Previous attendee said...

“The entire course from beginning to end was without flaw- So well planned and attention to detail. I think this course will finally help me jump start myself again and return to practice with such a better focus on my own self-care” ~Linda

Thoughts on life-balance...

“This defiantly had a positive impact on my life balance. I think now I will take my full lunch break to disconnect and not do work and enjoy “me time”. Also not being as critical of myself, accepting the “you do you” mentality to allow myself to take a moment of grace when needed” ~ Vicki

Learning on Retreat...

“Very helpful for ability to remain focused and engaged to absorb all content provided. Hands on labs are helpful” ~ Cindy

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

Are you ready to learn solid strategies breaking down areas of pediatric feeding while enjoying a retreat in Maine?  Enjoy sustainable accommodations in quaint cabins on a lake in Maine.  Think comfort combining hygee mornings with hot cocoa, fuzzy blanket on the porch watching the fog lift off the peaceful and serene lake.  Enjoy the rare opportunity of escaping it all staying in a private lodge on a crystal clear lake.   Imagine the smell of pine, grass and fresh morning dew like an excerpt of Thoreau on Walden Pond.  Join other clinical professionals in this glorious backdrop to learn more about the specific areas of pediatric feeding.  Enjoy nutritious meals along with free time to participate in a plethora of rejuvenating activities for the mind, body and spirit.  Take a moment to live in the woods on a lake purposefully and present.  While we dive deep into this challenging area of practice and develop a community of experts, we also address work-life balance.  The retreats are embedded in mindfulness and taking the time to find what invigorate you on a daily basis.  This retreat includes healthy farm to table meals (including a traditional Lobsterfest!), massage or facial, morning yoga, guided meditation and water activities from floating on a raft to stand up paddleboarding.  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!


Boutique Learning Experience presents Fun with Food!

Dr. Surfus is an energetic and interactive speaker.  Her  presentations are created from years of clinical practice, evidence in the literature 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.  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.

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 (16 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 experiences will be offered including yoga and meditation while other forms are worked seamlessly into the day.

Farm to Table Meals

4 delicious dinners (including lobsterfest) and 5 nutritious lunches are provided by the chef.  Daily continental breakfast provided.

Pamper Package

Relaxing massage or facial.  Eco friendly and sustainable toiletries, coffee, tea and cucumber mint water. The little things to make your stay oh so sweet!


Daily yoga will be offered on site.  Guided run or fitness walk. Swim in the lake or hike in the woods.  Choose what makes you smile.

4 Restful Nights

Shared or private room to rest your head at night.  Crisp fresh air, pine or lavender scent on your pillow, sweet dreams.

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 Activities

Try a kayak, waterski or SUP board.  Hike to a waterfall or up a small mountain.  Swim, canoe, fish or just relax near the lake!

Airport Shuttle

Just land and we will take care of you.  Shuttle service to and from Portland airport (PWM) on 7/14 and 7/18. Options for Boston arrival.

Community of Experts

17 contact hours for professional development. Collaborate, network and create community with others in the same field of expertise.  Let’s advance the profession together!

Your Itinerary

3:00 pm –  Check in

5:30 pm –  Welcome dinner 

6:30 pm – Introduction; Orientation

8:30 pm – Restorative yoga (optional) 

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


*Please note these are general guidelines for times and activities and may be changed to optimize the best time for outdoor excursions.  Flexibility is key however, note the time for training and lectures are strictly regulated for CEU reasons and final certificate of completion of the course.  


7:00 am – Yoga*

8:00 am – Breakfast

9:00 am – Lecture
-Correlating Sensory Systems to Feeding Issues
-The Picky, Resistant, and Rigid/Inflexible Eater

11:00 am –  Break

11:30 am – Lecture/ Case Study
-Video Observations:  What do you see?
-“Behavior” – What is the child really telling you?
-Case discussion

1:30 pm – Lunch

2:30 pm – You-do-you*

6:00 pm – Lecture
-Intervention Strategies – Examples and Samples- Fun with Food!

7:00 pm – Dinner

Activities: Special activities to be revealed!  One massage or facial is included!  This will be schedule during the free time! Option to upgrade to both!  Read a book, take a nap, journal, meditate or explore.  Do what makes you happy!

*Optional and may change due to weather and availability.

7:00 am – Yoga*

8:00 am – Breakfast

9:00 am – Lecture
-Review/ questions
-Video observation: A closer look…
-Assessment treatment sequence: Where do I start?

11:00 am – Break

11:30 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

-Treatment: case discussion, video review planning

1:30 pm – Lunch

2:30 pm – Activities*

7:00pm – Dinner ~ Traditional Maine Lobster Cookout! 

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

*Optional and may change due to weather and availability.

6:00 am – Sunrise meditation and gentle yoga flow*

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

10:30 am – Lecture
-Intervention – Balancing Therapeutic and Family Priorities
-Family and Caregiver Participation

12:30 pm – Lunch & Activities

5:00 pm – Evening cruise around the lake!

7:00 pm  – Farwell Dinner

6:00 am – Sunrise yoga (optional)

7:00 am – Breakfast

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

11:00pm – 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?

This is a unique experience to stay in a rustic lodge. The private room has a full or queen bed with a shared bathroom.  The shared room is for anyone who is open to sharing a bedroom with their individual bed. The private cabin is for one or two people (or small group, contact me for pricing and details .) The cabins are on property.

How many contact hours will I receive?

There will be a total of 17 contact education hours during the retreat.  A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the retreat for hours attended.  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 online.  It is the responsibility of the licensee to determine if the course meets all of the content requirements or restrictions imposed by an individual’s licensing board.


How many people will be attending this retreat?

For developing a community of expert therapists there will be 12 attendees.

What if I have food allergies, dietary restrictions?

Please communicate any food allergies or restrictions prior to arrival.  Accommodations will be made to the best of our ablilty.  There will be access to the kitchen and refrigerator if needed.

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 3pm.  The retreat begins with a welcome meeting the first evening at 5:30 pm with welcome dinner and welcome drink/ orientation. It wraps up late morning, around 11 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.  Portland (PWM) airport is the closest airport.  Please allow for a 2 hour drive.  We will arrange pick up from the airport on 7/14.  If you fly into Boston, there is a bus that will pick you up at the airport and bring you to Portland.  We will arrange pick up from the Concord Trailway station. 

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* Cool crisp morning and evenings are possible
  • Windbreaker
  • Bug spray
  • 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 of the attendees.

Are there payment plans available?

Yes! A non-refundable $500 dollar deposit will be necessary upon initial booking to reserve your space.  At time of deposit just let us know you would like a payment plan and the remainder will be divided over the remaining months prior to commencement of the retreat.   Otherwise 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!


“Joan has a way of unpacking the most difficult feeding kids. Her wealth of knowledge and clinical experience has helped me immensely! 


~Clinical Therapist 15 yrs

Rustic Cabin = Sweet Dreams

Let the chorus of frogs, loons and gentle rain drops on the rooftop lul you to sleep.

Step back in time with multiple options for lodging.


 “Her passion for helping the needs of not only the child but the family is unparalleled

~ Amber, 8 years clinical therapist