Who We Are
Our Mission: To Increase Understanding and Acceptance of Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Dysfunction Through Education and Research

The Sensory Processing Institute of Research and Learning - or SPIRAL - Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by Dr. Jane Koomar and Anne Trecker, and our for-profit sister organization OTA the Koomar Center, then known as Occupational Therapy Associates – Watertown, P.C. Our mission, as it was then, is to conduct research and provide professional and community education about sensory integration and sensory processing dysfunction. Today, the Spiral Foundation is headed by executive director Dr. Teresa May-Benson. We serve national and international audiences by providing resources for therapists and other professionals who work with individuals with sensory processing difficulties, as well as adults and children living with sensory dysfunction and their families. By conducting and disseminating current research and providing educational programs in a variety of on and offline formats we strive to improve the lives and well-being of individuals with difficulties processing and integrating sensory information across the globe.

The Spiral Foundation Sensory Processing Research Center and Laboratory promotes multi-disciplinary partnerships by forging relationships with nationally known researchers and leaders in the field of sensory processing and related disciplines. To ensure the ethical treatment of persons enrolled in studies all research is approved by the Spiral Foundation Institutional Review Board. Research findings are disseminated via the Spiral Foundation website, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed publications.

The Spiral Foundation Community and Professional Education program strives to make information about sensory processing and sensory integration intervention as accessible as possible by providing free resources for individuals who have, or suspect they have, sensory processing dysfunctions and their families, and by offering professional continuing education opportunities in a variety of formats at competitive prices. Through collaboration with leading experts in the field of sensory integration and related disciplines, the Spiral Foundation assures that the quality of this information is among the very best.
Our Board Members
 Sarah Sawyer, MA, OTR/L is President of the Board of the Spiral Foundation as well the Clinical Director at OTA The Koomar Center, and is responsible for overseeing all therapeutic activities. She has extensive clinical experience working with children and families. Sarah began her career in the United Kingdom working with children, adolescents and adults with Sensory Processing Dysfunction (SPD) across home, school and clinic-based settings. In 2003 Sarah was awarded the Elizabeth Casson Trust Scholarship from Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK, to attend Tufts University to complete her post-professional masters. Her thesis focused on therapists’ clinical reasoning. Sarah has broad experience evaluating and treating individuals with SPD and has specialized training in Listening Therapies, Trauma and Visual Vestibular difficulties. She has a particular interest in working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum and has specialized training in DIR® Floortime Approach. As well as overseeing the day-to-day running of the clinic, Sarah regularly trains and presents to educational facilities and other professionals broadening understanding of Sensory Processing Dysfunction and Sensory Integration Therapy.

Email: SSawyer@otathekoomarcenter.com
Ellen Cohn, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA is a clinical professor and director of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program at Boston University. Dr. Cohn’s current research, funded by the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund, involves developing and testing a new intervention to promote friendship in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She also has an interest in children and families’ perspectives of personal, contextual and occupational characteristics that support or inhibit successful social participation in school, home, and in the community. She has published several papers on broadening the focus of occupational therapy intervention to include family perspectives in all aspects of service delivery. Related areas of interest focus on understanding outcomes of occupational therapy using sensory integration approaches.

Email: ecohn@bu.edu
Phone: (617) 358 - 1063
Anne Trecker, MS, OTR/L, was the founding executive director of the Spiral Foundation, and now serves as Spiral's president of the board. Ms. Trecker is currently an occupational therapist and sensory integration specialist with the Boston Public Schools. In her position, she provides consultation to occupational therapists and teachers related to children with significant sensory integration issues. In addition to consulting, she provides OT services to children at the Mission Hill Pilot School. Before working for the Boston Public Schools, she was the Clinical Director of Occupational Therapy Associates - Watertown, now known as OTA The Koomar Center. In that position she worked with children with a wide range of disabilities, with a special emphasis on children with autism. She has lectured on sensory integration theory and intervention throughout the United States, and presents frequently for parent and teachers groups in the Boston area.

Email: atrecker@boston.k12.ma.us
Robert J. Hebert, MBA, is the treasurer of the Spiral Foundation and the co-owner and Chief Operating Officer at OTA The Koomar Center. He has extensive operational and management experience, having occupied senior positions in organizations in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining OTA, Mr. Hebert was the Director of Project Operations for Advocates of Human Potential, a leading research and consulting firm. In that capacity he was responsible for the project management activities of all the company's contracts and grants, having developed a project management methodology proprietary to the company. As the Executive Director of a non-profit, Mr. Hebert managed numerous multi-million dollar contracts that provided direct services to individuals, helping them overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. Mr. Hebert has also serves as the Chief Financial Officer for an education and training organization. The company owned and operated six proprietary schools, and executive training division, and the largest computer training camp for children in the world. Mr. Hebert earned his MBA from Bentley University and is active in the Watertown community. In addition to his work at OTA, Mr. Hebert is a youth baseball and high school football coach.

Email: rhebert@otathekoomarcenter.com
Phone: (617) 969 - 4410 ext. 237
Our Staff
Teresa A. May-Benson, ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is the Executive Director of the Spiral Foundation as well as a practicing occupational therapist at OTA The Koomar Center. She is active in conducting research related to sensory integration through the Spiral Foundation's Sensory Processing Research Center and Laboratory. She is a well-known lecturer and researcher on sensory integration theory and intervention. She has authored numerous of book chapters and articles on praxis and sensory integration, and completed her doctoral dissertation on ideational praxis. Dr. May-Benson has a diverse background as a clinical practitioner, having worked in private and public school settings as well as private practice. She has collaborated with well-known researchers such as Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, Dr. Shelly Lane, and Dr. Roseann Schaaf. In her role of educator, she serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Indianapolis. She has a special interest in, and extensive experience with, autism - particularly in older children and adults. Dr. May-Benson received her bachelor's degree from Ohio State University and her master's with a concentration in sensory integration and school system therapy from Boston University. She was Maternal and Child Health Fellow in the Doctoral Program in Therapeutic Studies at Boston University. She has received the Virginia Scardinia Award of Excellence from AOTA for her work in ideational praxis.

Email: tmaybenson@thespiralfoundation.org
Phone: (617) 969 - 4410 ext. 240
Alison Teasdale, BSc, is the Spiral Foundation's Sensory Processing Research Center and Laboratory Senior Research Assistant. Originally from Yorkshire, England, she has a degree in applied statistics from Sheffield Hallam University. Before joining Spiral, Ms. Teasdale conducted research at Newcastle University. She is responsible for participant recruitment for all Spiral research, and provides administrative support for the Spiral Foundation's Institutional Review Board, which oversees the protection of human subjects for all research conducted through the Spiral Foundation.

Email: research@thespiralfoundation.org
Phone: (617) 969 - 4410 ext. 267
Rachael Benson is the Spiral Foundation's administrative assistant. She provides administrative support for the Spiral Foundation's day-to-day operations and assists in organizing the Spiral Foundation's education programs.

Email: admin@thespiralfoundation.org
Phone: (617) 969 - 4410 ext. 231
Research Associates
Diane Levinson, OTR/L is a licensed and certified occupational therapist who has practiced pediatric occupational therapy for over 25 years. A graduate of Sargent College, Boston University, she has worked in school systems, hospitals, clinics, and private practice, as well as for the Visiting Nurse Association. She established the first occupational therapy department within the Brockton Public Schools and worked at Youville Hospital in Cambridge with Dr. Margaret Bauman and the pediatric team that evolved into the LADDERS Program. In October 2001 Ms. Levinson co-established Project CHILLD, an occupational therapy clinic specializing in integrating OT treatment with the field of sound therapy. Ms. Levinson presently works at OTA The Koomar Center conducting OT evals and providing listening consultation.
Melanie Allen Salort, OTR/L is a licensed and certified occupational therapist. She received her bachelor's degree from Quinnipiac University. She has been working at OTA The Koomar Center since 2003. Prior to working at OTA, she worked in early intervention. She is SIPT certified, having completed the Comprehensive Program in Sensory Integration in 2003. In addition to her training in sensory integration, she is also a certified provider for therapeutic listening, The Listening Program, and Integrated Listening Systems. Ms. Salort's other specialized trainings include: craniosacral, feeding, and oral motor therapies. Ms. Salort is also one of the Spiral Foundation's education associates.
Education Associates
Lori Goodrich, OTR/L is a licensed and certified occupational therapists, and currenlty the associate clinical director of OTA The Koomar Center. She completed her bachelor degree in occupational therapy at Quinnipiac University in 2002. While at Quinnipiac, she participated in Kids on the Block - a program to help educate children about disabilities - and other outreach programs for women and children. She graduated summa cum laude and was a member of the honors society, Pi Theta Epsilon. Ms. Goodrich has worked in Boston and New York. She became a part of the OTA team in 2005, the same time she completed the Sensory Integration Assessment and Intervention certification. She has trained in The Listening Program and Interactive Metronome. Her specific clinical interests include oral motor and feeding therapy, as well as the integration of motor and language development into functional play activities. She has been trained in the SOS Approach to Feeding and has attended the MORE: Integrating the Mouth with Sensory and Postural Functions Conference.
Erin Flynn, MS, OTR/L is a certified and licensed Occupational Therapist in the state of Massachusetts. She received her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Sacred Heart University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from College of the Holy Cross. She has worked with children in a variety of settings including public/private schools and Boys & Girls Clubs. She recently left the Board of Directors of the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club in Fairfield, CT where she was the Vice President of Programming. While there, she helped develop and run the girls lacrosse program and facilitated staff education on accommodating the needs of club members with Autism. Erin is committed to developing innovative ways for children to participate in their desired activities.
Jaymie Merry, MS, OTR/L earned her Master of Science degree in occupational therapy, graduating Summa Cum Laude and as Valedictorian of her class at the University at Buffalo in New York. During her time at UB, Jaymie served as President of the UB Student Occupational Therapy Association and member of Pi Theta Epsilon OT National Honor Society. Jaymie received national recognition from the American Occupational Therapy Foundation as the 2013 recipient of the Mary Fiorentino Memorial Scholarship Award for excellence in qualifications and potential for future professional development. Jaymie currently serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary for Camp Avanti, an intensive occupational therapy program for children with sensory processing dysfunction and/or learning disabilities. She has experience working with children in the home, school, and clinic setting, as well as running parent/child community-based sensory motor groups and summer camps. Jaymie is a certified provider of Therapeutic Listening and has training in DIR/Floortime.