Our licensed pediatric occupational therapists specialize in functional, play-based interventions. Play is a vital skill that impacts every aspect of a child’s development. Our occupational therapists are committed to providing the most current, evidence-based occupational therapy practices to assess your child’s sensory processing skills, motor planning abilities, fine and visual motor integration skills, bilateral integration skills, and activities of daily living abilities. This will allow us to determine any functional limitations that may be interfering with his or her ability to successfully engage in and interact with his or her natural environments and participate in functional play with peers.
Through the sensory integration framework, our mission is to help each child we serve reach his or her optimal potential. The goal of occupational therapy is to provide a “Just Right Challenge”. This will assist with success within your child’s environment and to assist your child in developing skills that impact his or her holistic development. OT will address sensory needs by providing stimulation to the vestibular, proprioception, and tactile systems through various suspended equipment or other therapeutic equipment. Therapy will also address fine motor skills needed for coloring, cutting, writing, or typing as well as activities of daily living skills such as tying shoes, buttoning, snapping, or zipping.
Therapy may be provided within the classrooms, which is considered the least restrictive environment, or out of the class for an individual session in the therapy gym/room. Group OT will focus on successful peer play and social skill development by sharing art materials, interacting during game play, or taking turns on equipment. A summary of your child’s progress will be sent home monthly that may include activities to target at home.
Meet Our Occupational Therapists
Leslie Murdock, MS, OTR/L firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie is the Occupational Therapy Supervisor at Helping Hands Center. She graduated from Boston University with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Allied Health Professions, majoring in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University. She has been a Clinical Instructor for OT students since 2007. Leslie has a history of working with children with autism since 2000, where she was part of a home ABA team. She is certified in Therapeutic Listening® techniques and Astronaut Training. Leslie has a special interest in feeding and is part of the HHC Food Acceptance Team. In her free time, Leslie enjoys time with her family by going to the zoo and attending sporting events. Her family includes her daughters, Rachel (15 y/o), Wynnleigh (3 y/o), Hallie born April 2012 and husband, Chris.
Irene Santoni, MOT – OTR/L email@example.com
Irene is the Assistant Occupational Therapy Supervisor at Helping Hands Center. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Master degree in Occupational Therapy, in 2008. Irene also holds a Bachelor degree in Pediatric Therapy from “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy, where she completed her dissertation in Feeding Disorders in Children with Developmental Disabilities. Irene is the OTR-OTA Fieldwork Coordinator and has been a Clinical Instructor for OT students since 2010. Irene has experience in combined Assessment and Treatment Techniques for Sensory Integration and Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT). Irene enjoys outdoors activities with her husband, Pierpaolo, her 3 years old Luna. Irene also loves to visit her family and friends in Italy.
Karisa Fraley, COTA/L firstname.lastname@example.org
Karisa Fraley has been a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant since October 2005. She has an Associate’s degree from Start State College in Applied Science in Occupational Therapy. Karisa has worked at HHC since the 2007/2008 school year. Karisa has worked in various settings including acute care, home health and skilled nursing, but her real passion has always been working with children. Karisa has been a leader in the Food Acceptance Team since 2011. She is a proud new mother to her sweet little girl, Kinsley Grace, born in May 2012. Karisa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors with her Yorki, Lexi, traveling, reading and trying new restaurants.
Kaitlyn Weitz, MS, OTR/L email@example.com
Kaitlyn graduated from Gannon University in 2010 with a Master in Science in Occupational Therapy. She has experience working with children with a variety of developmental and physical disabilities. Kaitlyn recently became engaged, and is enjoying planning a wedding for next summer. She also enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking and baking, and crafts.
Steven Kraft, COTA/L firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Kraft is a new Occupational Therapy Assistant at Helping Hands. Steve graduated from Oklahoma City Community College in 2002 and immediately began providing therapy to children. He has worked with various children and in a variety of settings. His last job was in Cleveland, working with children with Autism in a classroom setting. Steve has been married 4 year to his wonderful wife Melissa and they enjoy watching movies, college football, and golf. He is looking forward to the new school year and is looking forward to providing fun and functional therapy.
Lara Pytlik, MOT – OTR/L email@example.com
Lara is a new Occupational Therapist at Helping Hands this year. Lara was born and raised in St. Clairsville, Ohio. She recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where she received her Bachelor of Rehabilitation Sciences and her Master of Occupational Therapy degrees. Lara has had previous pediatric experience, thanks to her clinical rotations at a Muscular Dystrophy summer camp and through a suburban Pittsburgh school system. She also worked at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for four years and was a part-time nanny for two years. Lara is very excited to start her career in a new city with her cat, Ziggy. She enjoys dancing, swimming, reading, being outdoors, going to concerts and is an avid sports fan.