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Sat, Oct 05


Oak Park High School

SENG Los Angeles Mini Conference

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SENG Los Angeles Mini Conference
SENG Los Angeles Mini Conference

Time & Location

Oct 05, 2019, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Oak Park High School, 899 Kanan Rd. Oak Park, CA 91377

About The Event


8:00-9:00 AM  Registration & Opening Remarks (Pavilion)

9:00-10:00 AM Opening Keynote: Setting the Stage:  Understanding Giftedness From The Inside Out (Sharon Duncan) Pavilion

10:15-11:15 AM Session 1 

A.  When Lazy Doesn’t Make Sense: The Impact of Executive Functions on Gifted Families (Cynthia Hansen) 

B. The Bright Brain 2.0:  Understanding the Latest Neuroscience of Giftedness (Nicole Tetreault) 

C. Top Ten Tips for Parents of Gifted Kids (Judy Wiener) 

11:30 AM-12:30 PM Session 2

A. Overexcitabilities, Occupational Therapy, and Sensory Processing Disorders (Adriane Ransom) 

B. The Psychology, Neuroanatomy, and Care of the Creative Brain (Susan Daniels, Nicole Tetreault, & Michael Postma)

C. Thinking Differently: Parenting Your Gifted, Sensitive, Challenging Child (Beth Houskamp) 

12:30-2:00 PM  Lunch/Discussion (mingle with the speakers)


2:00-3:00 PM Session 3

A. Supporting Your Child's Inner Well-being While Maintaining Your Sanity (Cindy Hansen) 

B. Motivation, Perfectionism, and Underachievement in Gifted Children and Teens (Judy Wiener) 

C. Empowering Gifted Girls (Cam Werley-Gonzales) 

3:15-4:15 PM Session 4

A. Simple Solutions to Common Challenges both at Home and in the Classroom (Sharon Duncan).

B. Parent Support in the Gifted Community (Kasi Peters & Adriane Ransom) 

C. Help, My Child Is So Intense!  Tools to Regulate Affect and Bolster the Emotional Functioning of Gifted Children (Vula Baliotis) 

4:15-4:30 PM Closing Remarks 


Key Note:  Setting the Stage:  Understanding Giftedness From The Inside Out

 (Sharon Duncan)

Giftedness is greatly misunderstood in American society.  Surrounded by myths, and burdened by deeply emotional responses even to the word itself, the needs of gifted and 2e children often go unrecognized or, worse, are dismissed. Because of this, and counter to conventional belief, gifted and 2e children are one of the most at-risk, special needs populations in the educational system today. 

Giftedness is about far more than just being “smart”.  It is about so much more than grades or achievement. Gifted individuals take in, process and respond to the world in a qualitatively different manner, and both they and their families have special needs.  This talk will provide a whole person understanding of what giftedness really is, what it looks like, and importantly, how it impacts every facet of an individual’s life.  This lens is key, because by using an experiential vocabulary, we can expand the understanding of giftedness in a clear and gentle manner so that the next generation of gifted children can grow and thrive in an environment of awareness and acceptance.  

Session One:

A. When Lazy Doesn’t Make Sense: The Impact of Executive Functions on Gifted Families (Cynthia Hansen)

Difficulty starting a task; staying focused on school tasks; and great ideas without follow-through; are symptoms of executive functioning Often our brightest students are labeled “lazy” and begin to doubt their abilities when their production lags.  Gifted students who have poor executive functions but test within the state-mandated norms are often not recognized as needing specialized assistance; yet these are often underachievers who are most at risk.  This presentation describes how executive function delays can manifest in our students with high potential.  Integrating theories and research from noted professionals in the special education and gifted communities affords us the opportunity to understand the needs and ways to support, the whole child.

B. The Bright Brain 2.0:  Understanding the Latest Neuroscience of Giftedness 

(Nicole Tetreault)

 Originating with a unique neuroanatomy and physiology, gifted people perceive and respond to the world differently, experiencing heightened emotional, sensory, motor, imaginational, and intellectual processing.  Recent studies report that high IQ individuals are also at risk for psychological and physiological conditions. These studies join a growing body of scientific evidence providing guidance for gifted individuals to live a good life based on an accurate understanding of their greater capacity to take in the world based upon their uniquely expanded and elevated neuroanatomical and physiological systems. Participants will learn how our brains are as unique as a fingerprint, and how gifted experiences may be intense because we are simply “hard-wired” differently! “Gifted” are not better, not worse, but neuro-diverse. This talk opens a discussion based on accurate information and appropriate language that engenders compassion for the gifted experience. Understanding the gifted experience through science we can learn to support the lives of gifted people as empowered advocates owning their voices and stories and engaging in a global dialogue.

C. Top Ten Tips for Parents of Gifted Kids (Judy Wiener)

Parenting a gifted child or teen often presents special rewards and special challenges, with few opportunities to talk openly about how giftedness impacts our lives. This presentation will open up the topic and focus on practical strategies that parents can use to address the needs of their gifted kids and the challenges they may present. Topics will include typical characteristics and potential problems, discipline and communication, coping skills, peers and social skills, twice exceptionality, and resources, as well as an introduction to SENG model parent discussion groups. 

Session Two:

A. Overexcitabilities, Occupational Therapy, and Sensory Processing Disorders 

(Adriane Ransom)

Join us for a much-needed discussion to help demystify OEs, OT, and SPDs!

If you have an asynchronous gifted or twice-exceptional child you may have been referred to an occupational therapist. But what is occupational therapy, and what role can it play in your gifted child’s life? In this session, we will discuss: 

· Overexcitabilities and how they relate to OT 

· When OE’s cross into Sensory Processing Disorder territory 

· How OT can support your gifted child’s development (and does it matter if my OT “gets” giftedness)

· What you can do to support your child’s sensory needs at home

B. The Psychology, Neuroanatomy, and Care of the Creative Brain 

(Susan Daniels, Nicole Tetreault, & Michael Postma)

Gifted creatives have unique brain circuitry and dimensions of personality and psychology that serve to open their imagination to divergent experiences, ideas, and possibilities.  Originating with a unique neuroanatomy and physiology, gifted creatives experience elevated intellectual, sensory and emotional processing. Often immersed in creative pursuits and related states of flow while spending time in solitude, their ideas and behaviors may be misunderstood by others.  Learn about the nature of the creative brain and development along with approaches for balancing the life of the creative soul. Join our panel and discussion on cultivating and supporting creative exploration in life while understanding that super creatives have expanded brain networks for imagination. The neuroscience of creativity shows that in flow there are unique brain paths activated for emotion, sensation and unique thinking allowing for originality and divergent thinking. Super creatives are misunderstood and are unfairly tagged as freaks, geeks and weirdos.  Often in creative flow, gifted people are seen as spacey, heady and detached. Much of creative exploration is found in the solitude of the mind.  Gifted individuals are known to have enhanced neuroanatomy and physiology that increases intensities and experiencing the world.  Some super creatives are known as twice exceptional, having a great ability and a large disadvantage.  Additionally, the myriad of gifted creatives includes people that see in pictures, imagine different worlds, feel words as emotion, speak in music, create universes and tap into unknown imagination.  Learn from Drs. Susan Daniels, Mike Postma, and Nicole Tetreault how to manifest meaning with creative exploration and develop creative gifts.  Developing a creative community to share ideas is critical for gifted people.  Community is everything. Research shows social inclusion and connectedness to be essential for positive life outcomes.  We want to share the latest science, creativity teachings, and our personal stories to develop an accurate understanding of giftedness to allow for inclusion, acceptance, and compassion for gifted creatives to explore their passions and lift their souls.  

C. Thinking Differently: Parenting Your Gifted, Sensitive, Challenging Child

(Beth Houskamp)

Asynchronous development and the emotional intensity experienced by gifted children can lead to behavioral challenges. This workshop introduces Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) a research supported approach to helping children with challenging behavior. CPS uses the adults’ understanding of the child’s unique developmental trajectory to better understand their child's experience, to teach and strengthen areas where the child’s cognitive skills may be lagging, and to decrease challenging behavior. Participants will learn how to engage collaboratively with their gifted child, and teach skills to help children regulate their emotions and behavior.


Session Three:

A. Supporting Your Child's Inner Well-being While Maintaining Your Sanity 

(Cindy Hansen)

We live very hectic lives!  And we want the best for our families. As caregivers, we are the worriers, fixers and stress balls to our sensitive, volatile and active children and partners. This workshop asks:

•       What stresses you most about homework, after school activities, technology, and the social-emotional sensitivities within your household?

• What can I do to help my family de-stress? What can I do for me?

The goal of this session is to leave with ways to adjust your perspectives and some tools to help you pause in the middle of chaos, become more present, aware of the events surrounding you so you may notice the nuances of the situation before reacting from a frazzled perspective. Together we will practice secular ways to support your inner well-being so you may share these resources with your close community and find gratitude for your sanity.

B. Motivation, Perfectionism, and Underachievement in Gifted Children and Teens 

(Judy Wiener)

Gifted children begin life as curious, self-motivated, passionate learners, but later many become “underachievers,” perfectionistic, unmotivated, etc. . It can be difficult to know how to approach individual children: parents and teachers may urge some students to “try harder,” only to discover later that they have hidden obstacles to learning; other children may have belief systems that lead them to feel that they and their assignments are never up to their expectations; still others seem simply not to care about learning. Are we pushing them too hard? Or should we do more to be sure they keep up with their peers? We will discuss what we want for our children in terms of achievement and engagement in learning, and what factors may interfere with that process. Come learn practical strategies that can help to preserve, rebuild, or bring balance to your student’s love of learning. 

C. Empowering Gifted Girls: (Cam Werley-Gonzales)

What does it mean to be a gifted girl in today’s media driven, highly sexualized culture? Gifted teen girls often find themselves immersed in the dilemma of pursuing their intellectual passions while at the same time not knowing how to fit in. I’m not talking about the typical teen desire to fit in, though. As we know, gifted individuals often have a difficult time finding like-minded peers anyway. So, the teen and tween years become doubly isolating for gifted girls. Two extremes typically emerge: 1) the gifted girl pursues her intellectual passions and the other girls think she’s a “know it all” or 2) the gifted girl sinks into herself and hides her intellect from others and ends up not being authentically herself. Unfortunately, both extremes, and everything in between, often lead to anxiety and even depression. This interactive talk will help you help gifted tween and teen girls develop self-concept and self-esteem that allows the intellect to be a social asset rather than a liability. The presenter approaches this topic from both the educator and parent perspective. Cam Werley-Gonzales is a seasoned teacher and administrator who founded and ran a gifted girls program at a secondary school from 2013-2019. She has two gifted girls of her own (and two gifted boys) and just launched her own gifted school (for all genders) this year. 

Session Four: 

A. Simple Solutions to Common Challenges Both at Home and In The Classroom (Sharon Duncan)

Does your gifted or 2e child/student complain about being bored in school, blurt out answers in class, dislike group work or team sports, refuse to memorize simple facts, have trouble connecting with classmates, take forever or flat out refuse to do homework?  Do they interrupt others with off-topic questions, perform poorly because they rush through work, have a hard time on the playground or when others "don't follow the rules," hate creative writing despite their amazing imagination, or argue constantly? Gifted children are incredibly complex, and the solutions to challenging behaviors are often counter intuitive.  While it is difficult for adults to deal with these behaviors, it is even harder for the child to live them.  However, when we look at them "though the lens of the gifted experience", almost any challenge can be effectively dealt with.  This session will shed light on the root of these and other challenging behaviors common to gifted children, and provide simple and practical solutions for the home and classroom.   Finally, this session will review ways in which parents and teachers can approach each other about these behaviors in a way that encourages positive partnership so that peace returns to the home, classroom, and most importantly, the heart of the child themselves.   

B. Parent Support in the Gifted Community (Adriane Ransom and Kasi Peters)

SENG-Model Parent Groups provide a safe and supportive environment to freely discuss your child’s development and parenting challenges, connect with other parents, and increase your awareness of your child’s unique needs. During this interactive presentation you will learn about the variety of topics discussed in SMPGs, gain an understanding of the unique type of support SMPGs offer to families of gifted children, and experience a condensed version of an SMPG focusing on a topic of your choosing. Parents often describe their experience in SMPGs as transformative. Join us to find out if they can do the same for you!

C. Help, My Child Is So Intense!  Tools to Regulate Affect and Bolster the Emotional Functioning of Gifted Children (Vula Baliotis)

Gifted kids are more than the sum of their behaviors. They need help understanding their complex emotional experiences and regulating their actions. Parents have a great deal of impact on how children understand and take care of their feelings. Common internal experiences of gifted youth and what adults can do to bolster emotional functioning are discussed.


Vula Baliotis:

Dr. Vula Baliotis is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica and Torrance, CA. Certified through SENG, she specializes in conducting psychotherapy and consultations with gifted and creative adults, adolescents, and children. She also conducts psychological and educational assessments, specializing in testing gifted youth. Additionally, Dr. Baliotis works with women who are involuntarily childless, professionals in high-pressure jobs, individuals who are estranged from their families of origin, and adopted individuals and their families.

Susan Daniels:

Dr. Susan Daniels is co-founder and Educational Director of the Summit Center, a psycho-educational clinic in the Bay Area specializing in the needs of gifted, creative, and 2e students – as well as Professor of Educational Psychology and Counseling at California State University, San Bernardino. Dr. Daniels specializes in the social and emotional development of gifted children and adolescents, intensity and sensitivity of gifted individuals across the lifespan, and the development of creative potential. Dr. Daniels is co-author of Raising Creative Kids (Great Potential Press, 2013), and co-editor and co-author of Living with Intensity (Great Potential Press, 2008). Her most recent book on visual learning and teaching was published by Free Spirit Publishing. Dr. Daniels is also a co-founder of Camp Summit a residential summer camp for gifted youth. Susan can be reached at: 

Sharon Duncan:

Sharon Duncan is an independent consultant.  She helps parents and professionals meet the social, emotional and educational needs of gifted children through coaching, consultation and educator training. She also provides advice to parents on educational decisions including homeschooling.  Sharon has served on the governing boards of both public and private schools and speaks at conferences and schools around the globe on a wide variety of topics related to giftedness. Prior to her current work, Sharon spent 26 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in roles including, Project Manager, Section Manager, and Contract Negotiator.  She is a NASA certified Lien Six Sigma Black-belt, and utilizes her industry experience as a negotiator when advocating, and her change management skills when coaching and consulting. Sharon is the mother of a 27 year old twice exceptional daughter and a 21 year old profoundly gifted son.  Their educational journey included public school, private school, home school, dual enrollment and early college. During that process, Sharon recognized the challenges faced by parents and gifted children which fueled her drive to help others in similar situations. Sharon is co-founder of both Gifted Research and Outreach (GRO), and Gifted Identity.  GRO is a non-profit dedicated to researching the physiological differences in gifted bodies and educating professionals about those differences. Gifted Identity completed a survey study on the thoughts and feelings experienced by parents as they came to terms with their own giftedness as a result of learning about what giftedness is through the parenting of their children. Sharon is also a  SENG Model Parent Group facilitator with over 25 groups under her belt.  Sharon can be reached at 

Cam Werley-Gonzales: 

Cam Werley-Gonzales is the owner and Head of School at The Cambria Institute for Gifted & Advanced Learners in Pasadena, CA. Her professional passion is seeking creative methods to provide gifted learners with options to achieve their true potential, all while doing her part to repair the misconceptions the world has about gifted learners. Cam has spent the past twenty years as an educator, the last fifteen as an independent school teacher and a secondary school administrator. She founded the Academy for Gifted Girls (housed at Alverno Heights Academy) in 2013. Cam frequently speaks at Gifted Conferences such as SENG and CAG, on a variety of gifted subjects. Her areas of expertise include Personalized Learning & Non-Traditional Curriculum Design. Most importantly, she is the proud mom of four gifted children, whose journey has included home-schooling and early college. 

Cynthia Hansen:

Cynthia Z. Hansen, M.Ed., ET/P is an Educational Therapist/Professional in private practice specializing in gifted and creative individuals with executive function delays, ADHD, dyslexia, and complex learning profiles. An award-winning educator, SENG Model Parent Group facilitator and advocate, Ms. Hansen consults with public and private schools about individual students and offering professional development and parent workshops. A California credentialed educator for over 35 years, Cindy received her Master of Education and Teaching Certificates from UCLA, her post-Masters Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education from UCSB and is currently a doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education. Ms. Hansen is president of Tri-County GATE Council in the CA Pacific Region and an advisory board member for the Association of Educational Therapists, and The G Word movie due for release in 2021.

Beth Houskamp:

Beth M. Houskamp, Ph.D. was a full professor of Family and Professional Psychology for two decades. Her areas of research and clinical expertise include neurodevelopmental, social and emotional issues in gifted kids.  She is the author of articles, chapters, and scientific papers, presents at national and international conferences, and consults to parents, professionals, and schools. She is semi-retired and split her time between the San Bernardino mountains and Pasadena, California.  

Kasi Peters:

Kasi Peters, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist with 20 years of experience working in pediatric music therapy. She has co-authored the Individualized Music Therapy Assessment Protocol, and is co-author of a number of chapters in different music therapy books. Kasi holds a certificate in Gifted and Talented Education through University of California Irvine and currently serves on the Board of Directors for SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted), Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, and Profoundly Gifted Retreat. As a SENG-Model Parent Group Master Facilitator, Kasi co-facilitates support groups for families raising gifted children. Her efforts in this area were recognized as she was presented with the 2017 SMPG Facilitator of the Year award. Over the past six years, together with Adriane Ransom, Kasi has co-facilitated SENG-Model Parent Groups and presented to schools and parent groups on a variety of topics related to giftedness. They also founded Square Pegs, an educational consulting service dedicated to helping families looking for alternative education plans, and Westside of Los Angeles Gifted Group, an in-person and online resource for parents of gifted children. She lives in Culver City with her husband and two highly gifted children.

Michael Postma:

Dr. Michael Postma is Programming Director for the SENG Organization. A consultant, speaker, and author, Dr. Postma is dedicated to the holistic development of twice-exceptional children and other non-typical learners through his company’s Agility Educational Solutions and newest venture Gifted Lives Matter. Over the last two decades, Dr. Postma has worked as both a teacher and administrator in the public school system and is the architect of the Minnetonka Navigator Program, a magnet school for highly and profoundly gifted students. He currently lives in Surf City, SC and is the father of four children, three of whom are twice-exceptional. His latest book, The Inconvenient Student: Critical Issues in the Identification and Education of Twice-Exceptional Students is published through Royal Fireworks Press. You can reach Mike at: or at SENG at 

Adriane Ransom:

Adriane Ransom, MA, OTR/L is an occupational therapist and the owner/director of Bloom Pediatrics, a unique indoor-outdoor private practice in West Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh (1997) and her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (2000). Her specialty areas include Autism Spectrum Disorders, executive functioning, feeding challenges, gifted and twice exceptional children, handwriting and fine motor skills, Sensory Processing Disorders, and social skills support. Adriane has advanced training in Sensory Integration Theory and Practice, holds an Advanced Practice Certification in Swallowing Assessment, Evaluation, and Intervention (SWC) and is trained in DIR/Floortime and SENG-Model Parent Groups. As a SENG-Model Parent Group Master Facilitator, Adriane offers support to families raising gifted children. Her efforts in this area were recognized as she was presented with the 2018 SMPG Facilitator of the Year award. Over the past six years, together with Kasi Peters, Adriane has co-facilitated SENG-Model Parent Groups and presented to schools and parent groups on a variety of topics related to giftedness. They also founded Square Pegs, an educational consulting service dedicated to helping families looking for alternative education plans, and Westside of Los Angeles Gifted Group, an in-person and online resource for parents of gifted children. Adriane lives in West Los Angeles with her husband and four children, three of whom have been identified as highly gifted. 

Nicole Tetreault:

Nicole Tetreault, Ph. D., is a neuroscientist, author, meditation teacher, and international speaker on topics of neurodiversity, neurodevelopment, creativity, mental health, and wellness. Dr. Tetreault received her PhD from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in biology specializing in neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative disorders. As the founder of Awesome Neuroscience, she is dedicated to translating the most promising neuroscience and positive psychology for individuals to live their best life. Dr. Tetreault has authored and co-authored numerous academic papers on intelligence, autism, brain evolution, neuroanatomy, neuroinflammation, brain development, and behavior in journals such as Trends in Cognitive Neuroscience, Annals in New York Academy of Sciences, European Journal of Neuroscience, and Intelligence. Her science writings can be found in 2e Newsletter, Variations Magazine, SENG Newsletter, Gifted Unlimited, and Great Potential Press. Television credits include guest appearances on Addiction Unplugged on A&E and 100 Humans, a Netflix Original Series. As a Milton and Rosalind Chang Career Exploration Prize recipient from Caltech, Dr. Tetreault is creating Beyond the Cell, a transformative program to rehabilitate incarcerated women through teaching guided meditation, neuroscience, literature, and expressive writing to cultivate positive neural, mental, and behavioral patterns for healing.  Her forthcoming book, Insight into a Bright Mind, explores groundbreaking research examining the experiences of unique, creative, and intense brains through interviews, storytelling, and literary science, while advocating for new directions and dialogue of human and neurodiversity. For more about Nicole, please visit

Judy Wiener:

Judy Wiener, MSW, BCD is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with a private psychotherapy practice in Agoura Hills.  She has specialized in working with gifted and twice exceptional children, teens, and adults for almost twenty years, along with her general practice. In addition to counseling and consultation, Judy speaks to groups of parents, teachers, counselors and mental health professionals about a range of issues related to giftedness. Previously she provided mental health services in agencies and schools. Judy has extensive training through SENG as a mental health professional and as a master facilitator and facilitator trainer for SENG-model parent discussion groups. For more than fifteen years she has led SENG groups and is still inspired by the powerful impact they have on parents and families. Since 2001, Judy has been involved with the GATE program in Oak Park Unified School District, serving on the GATE District Advisory Committee since its beginning. A past Co-President of the Tri-County GATE Council and active in various roles there, she was honored by the California Association for the Gifted with a Distinguished Service Award.


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