Parent Support Group | Services | Institute for Educational Advancement


Supporting a gifted child
is often challenging.

As parents and educators, it can be difficult to understand how best to meet the complex needs of gifted children. During the school year, IEA offers complimentary monthly Gifted Support Group meetings featuring  professionals who are experts on various aspects of gifted youth. These meetings provide support and community, a venue for shared discovery, and a space to exchange resources and ideas. Sharing experiences with other parents and educators who interact with gifted children has proven to be enormously helpful.

In order to assist the widest range of families, we will be livestreaming the meetings on our Facebook page, unless otherwise noted.

Upcoming Meetings

Sensory Integration: What is it and how does it impact development, behavior, and emotional regulation?

Speaker: Dr. Jamie Chaves, OTD, OTR/L, SWC

Thursday, October 10th • 6:30 p.m.
540 South Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101

Processing sensory information pervades our lives and the lives of our children. The way in which a child integrates that information informs his/her development, regulation, and behavioral organization. We will explore the science behind sensory integration, what you as a parent can do to facilitate healthy sensory integration, and how gifted children may be impacted by sensory processing differences.

About the Speaker

A native of Illinois, Dr. Chaves attended undergraduate at Bradley University with degrees in Health Science and Psychology. She earned her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine where she developed a practice model for the integration of occupational therapy into orphanage-like settings. In 2015 Dr. Chaves achieved certification from the CBOT in swallowing and feeding (SWC) with a focus on pediatrics. She is trained by Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) in their auditory-based multisensory program and in Dr. Stephen Porges’ Safe&Sound Protocol (SSP). In 2018 Dr. Chaves became Level 1 Certified as a handwriting specialist by Learning Without Tears.


3 Rules for Applying to College

Speaker: Dr. Steven Mercer, Ed.D.

Tuesday, October 22nd • 6:00 p.m.
540 South Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101

Applying to college is a rite of passage. And like all rites of passage, there are challenging steps to be taken by students and families. This process can be unnecessarily complicated in an age when college admission opinions, myths, or outright incorrect information is too easily shared via social media or anxiety is unnecessarily heightened by news cycles dominated by “college admissions scandals.” Dr. Steven Mercer will help clear away the “noise” around college admission and share his views of how to keep balance during the college admission process.

About the Speaker

Steven Mercer, Ed.D. is the founder of Mercer Educational Consulting, a private college counseling practice in Los Angeles, CA. He is an experienced educator with an extensive background in selective college admission, counseling, teaching, and academic and non-profit leadership. Prior to founding Mercer Educational Consulting, he was an admission officer at the University of Southern California. In additional to working with students one-on-one, Dr. Mercer is an Adjunct Faculty in the on-line College Counseling Certificate program at UCSD Extension and works as a consultant to colleges and universities on matters related to college admission.


Co-regulation, Mentalization, and Other Tools for Helping Gifted Children with Emotional Regulation

Speaker: Dr. Vula Baliotis, Ph.D

Tuesday, November 19th • 6:00 p.m.
540 South Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101

Children are not just the sum of their external behaviors. They have a rich internal life that needs to be valued and understood. Gifted children tend to be particularly emotionally intense, perceptive, and sensitive, so they especially need help learning how to understand their internal experiences and to regulate the behaviors that stem from these experiences. Parents play a big role in gifted children’s ability to emotionally regulate—through emotionally attuning to and reflecting back to them that their internal experiences are both understandable and understood. This talk will discuss common internal experiences of children who are gifted, as well as how parents can help enhance their children’s emotional functioning.

About the Speaker

Dr. Vula Baliotis is a licensed psychologist whose interest and training are in doing deep, life-changing therapeutic work. She believes that individuals are rich and complex in nature, not easily reduced to a constellation of symptoms. Her professional and personal experiences have led her to focus on working with gifted, creative, and highly sensitive individuals; women (including those who are childless by circumstance); adoption; and individuals who are struggling to understand and come to terms with their identity. Among her specialized training, certifications, and continuing education, she’s certified to work with gifted individuals through SENG and certified for reflective parenting training through the Center for Reflective Parenting. In addition to psychotherapy and consultations, she also conducts assessments for giftedness and twice exceptionality, as well as comprehensive psychoeducational assessments. She also presents to the public and trains professionals locally, nationally, and internationally in her areas of specialty.

Click here to visit our Youtube page to view recordings of past Gifted Support Groups. 

IEA Gifted Support Group Meetings



• Learn the theory and application of a holistic approach for gifted children
• Meet, share with, and learn from educators and other parents of gifted children
• Get in-depth information on a variety of topics related to gifted youth and education


Past topics have included:

  • Giftedness Identification & IQ Testing
  • Homeschooling Parent Panel
  • Accelerated Gifted Education
  • Enhancing the Emotional Functioning of Gifted Children
  • Exploring Non-Traditional Education Options in a Standardized World
  • Gifted Resource Swap and Play Date
  • Twice-Exceptional Parent Panel
  • Emotional Freedom Therapy


To see upcoming gifted support group meeting topics and details, please visit the Upcoming Events page of our website. Questions or would like to suggest a speaker or topic? Email Niña Abonal at

Consulting for Youth & Families
Consulting with Educators
Gifted Support Group
Speaking Engagements
Join the group! For information about our next gifted support group meeting, visit our upcoming events page.

“IEA provides a wealth of information and is the best resource we’ve found for support and guidance in the gifted community.”

– IEA Parent