In 2001, Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR/L graduated from the University of Madison, WI with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. She began her professional career working in the public school setting in Chicago and the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. As an OT and Autism Resource Specialist she gained experience working with children of all ages and with many different disabilities and challenges. During this time Leah was the lead in her field, acting as a mentor to employees, and working toward incorporating strong communication and collaboration ties to best meet her students' needs. She provided consultations with teachers, gave training on topics related to autism and sensory regulation and created collaborative therapy groups for students, families, teachers, and other health professionals.
Throughout her years working in the schools, it became apparent to Leah that the students on her caseload all too frequently struggled with sensory regulation and emotional control. Over the next couple of years while working toward her Master of Arts in Education and Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders (Hamline University in St. Paul, MN) she came up with an idea (The Zones of Regulation) to help students learn how to self-regulate and become successful academically and socially in their environment. As she began putting practices into place with students, her colleagues started getting excited by what they were seeing - students engaged in learning. Leah kept pursuing as much continuing education as she could and applied what she learned to her caseload. It was during this period, as she completed her graduate capstone, that the first draft of The Zones of Regulation curriculum was created with the mentorship of Kari Dunn Buron, a leader in the field of ASD whom Leah highly admired.
Over the next year or two, Leah presented on The Zones at professional workshops and became closely linked to Michelle Garcia Winner, (Social Thinking). It was apparent that there was a connection with the Social Thinking concept that Michelle created and it's role in self-regulation. Leah was eager to work with her and Michelle became a strong supporter of The Zones , offering to publish her work.
In 2009, Leah moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked as an OTR/L at Communication Works, under the direction of Elizabeth Sautter, focusing on providing social learning and self-regulation groups and individual therapy. Leah was putting the finishing touches on the curriculum and started receiving requests to provide trainings on The Zones of Regulation Curriculum around North America. Two years later, The Zones of Regulation was published (2011, Social Thinking Publishing) with the close mentorship of Michelle Garcia Winner. The curriculum was well received by the community and Leah continued to gain recognition both nationally and internationally in her respective field.
After starting a family, Leah and her husband decided to make a move back to the Midwest and take a huge leap and go out on her own. In 2012 she started her own company, Kuypers Consulting, Inc. out of her home in Minneapolis, MN. As Leah’s company began to grow, it became a family business, with Leah bringing on her parents and sister, Molly Schock (operations manager) to help with the day-to-day operations and communications.
In 2013 , Leah was introduced to Sterling Selosoft, whom she went on to collaborate with to create the first The Zones of Regulation App. (2013, Selosoft, Inc.). The Zones of Regulation App was a recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award the next year. Taking the feedback from the first app of what additional feature the community wanted, Leah and Sterling came together again to create a second app, Exploring Emotions (2016, Selosoft, Inc.) to compliment the first app.
Beyond honored and delighted about The Zones framework being used more broadly around the world, Leah needed to problem solve how to meet the growing requests for trainings and development. She looked to Terri Rossman and Elizabeth Sautter, two highly regarded professionals in the field and close friends/colleagues. These two experts not only help to deliver more trainings, but also as collaborative partners to team with her on developing more materials to teach and support The Zones. Terri and Elizabeth bring a depth of knowledge and experience as Speech and Language Pathologist and effectively deliver the same information as Leah on the Zones of Regulation during trainings. Leah continues to work collaboratively with them and is beyond grateful to have their support in disseminating The Zones framework.
Currently Leah provides training and consultations to parents, schools and professionals, and offers workshops on the Zones curriculum to groups in the US and abroad. In addition, she works collaboratively with companies and businesses to guide their development of social emotional learning supports. Like many of us, Leah strives to find balance between her personal and professional life, currently prioritizing on the professional side developing new Zones products and books including a Zones learning board to be introduced within the next year!
On a personal note, Leah currently resides in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son, daughter and dog. As a mother to a child with PANS/PANDAS (http://pandasnetwork.org/ ) , her passion to support children with self-regulation challenges has taken on a whole new light as she lives and breathes it from the role of a mother. To have fun and relax, Leah loves traveling, playing with her children, eating good food, hiking, skiing and most anything outdoors.