Occupational
Therapy

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on the individual’s occupation or activities of daily living.

 

Believe it or not, infants, toddlers, and young children have occupations. The primary occupations of a child include activities that support their health, well-being, and development. 

 

Pediatric occupational therapists work with children and their caregivers to promote active engagement in activities that are meaningful to them.

 
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Common Diagnoses Pediatric Occupational Therapists Treat:

  • Autism

  • Sensory dysfunction

  • Feeding disorders

  • Developmental delays

  • Visual-perceptual impairments

  • Fine motor skill delays

  • Executive function

  • Social-emotional skill deficits

  • Birth injuries and defects

  • Cerebral palsy

  • ADD/ADHD

  • Down Syndrome

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How can occupational therapy help my child?

The following table gives a glimpse of what skills can be addressed with occupational therapy and the daily activities that will improve in return!

DAILY ACTIVITY

SKILL

Fine motor strength for grasping and releasing

Handwriting Manipulation of feeding utensils

Hand-eye coordination

Playing catch

Self-care

Bathing
Dressing
Brushing teeth
Combing hair

Management of feelings of frustration, diffuse anger, and impulsivity

Coping emotionally

Gross motor coordination

Self-feeding
Computer use
Increased handwriting speed & legibility

Focus & social skills

Attention to tasks
Playing with others

Visual motor

Recognizing letters
Copying shapes

Did you know? 

Occupational therapy also evaluates your child’s need for adaptive equipment. 

 

Wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, and communication aids are a part of the whole picture in improving quality of life and promoting functional independence.

 

We are happy to facilitate the process of obtaining any necessary adaptive equipment for our families.

Does my child need occupational therapy?

Check out these categories to identify if your child is having difficulty in any area. If you answer yes to any of the items, contact us today for a free screening.

Visual motor

  • Recognizing letters

  • Negotiating the spacing and sizes of letters

  • Visual tracking and crossing midline

  • Finding objects among other objects

  • Copying from the board or another paper

  • Concept of right and left

  • Copying shapes or letters

 

Gross motor

  • Clumsiness

  • Uncoordinated

  • Poor ball skills

  • Developmental milestones not being reached i.e. sitting, crawling, and walking

 

Handwriting 

  • Letter formation

  • Number formation

 

Cognitive development

  • Not learning at an age-appropriate level

 

Social-emotional

  • Poor development of age-appropriate play and social skills

  • Difficulty transitioning between tasks and activities

 

Fine motor

  • Manipulating toys and puzzles

  • Grasping writing utensils 

  • Utilizing age-appropriate feeding utensils and cups

  • Utilizing scissors

  • Fastening zippers, buttons, tying shoelaces

  • Coloring, drawing, tracing, pre-writing shapes​​

 

Oral motor function 

  • Difficulty drinking from a straw at an age-appropriate time

  • Excess liquid or food loss from mouth when drinking or chewing

 

Sensory processing

  • Excessive pickiness when eating

  • Eating only certain types or textures of food

It is a child’s job, or, ”occupation”, to play to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity, social skills to interact with other children, and self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.

 

Meet our Occupational Therapists

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Stacy Kozlowski, OTR/L

Abil-OT Owner

Stacy is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience in the areas of developmental disabilities, physical dysfunction, environmental modifications, sensory processing disorder and feeding. As an occupational therapist, Stacy believes it is vitally important to treat client’s psychological and emotional well-being, as well as their physical needs. She is passionate about her role in helping children overcome adversity, and is always inspired by the tenacity of the human spirit. It is truly gratifying to be a part of the healing process, or the process of watching a child develop and acquire new skills. Whether a child is challenged physically, mentally or emotionally, being able to analyze, identify and implement techniques that result in positive change is deeply humbling. It could be as simple as providing equipment to a child with increased muscle tone that enables them to self feed, or training caregivers on a sensory diet that increases a child’s ability to participate in family mealtimes or attend social gatherings, but to many families it is anything but simple, it’s life-changing. It is immensely rewarding to be a part of that process. Stacy began her career working with children and adults, and supporting families recover and regain function following traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and burns. The opportunity to work closely alongside a diverse team of medical professionals was invaluable to her growth as a therapist. As gratifying as she found working with children in the acute stages of illness and injury, she found her greatest assets were helping adapt and modify physical, social and emotional barriers for children with developmental disabilities to gain purposeful connections in their communities. As an OT for United Cerebral Palsy in NYC, with extensive training in community integration and adaptive equipment, Stacy was chosen to direct the design and renovation of a simulated training apartment for people with disabilities. The apartment became a platform to train children and young adults how to access their home environment, focusing on environmental modifications and adaptive strategies that allowed them to live as independently as possible, with emphasis on their abilities. Following the renovation, she managed the UCP/NYC orthotics and bracing clinic, working alongside the physiatrist and orthotist to fit children with customized orthoses and adaptive equipment to maximize their functional independence. After moving to North Carolina in 2009 with her family, Stacy has been dedicated to integrating her passion for universal accessibility by helping children and their families harness their inner strength, while working with children in diverse environments. She is driven by a desire to promote accessibility and community integration for children with physical and emotional challenges, while promoting self determination. Stacy has training in the areas of Neurodevelopmental Treatment, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, Handwriting Without Tears, Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, The Wilbarger Protocol, Sensory Integration and Meditation. Stacy also has extensive knowledge of Applied Behavior Analysis, integrating sensory based strategies with behavior based interventions for optimal progress and goal attainment. Stacy is also trained in the AEIOU Systematic Approach to Pediatric Feeding, the Merry Mealtime Guide, the Safe and Sound Protocol, and is SOFFI certified. She has been happily married to her husband John for 15 years, and they are the proud parents of 3 daughters.

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Jenny Bednar, COTA/L

Jenny is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant. Jenny graduated from Virginia Tech University receiving her Bachelors of Science in Human Development with a focus in Childhood and Adolescence. Jenny knew she always wanted work with children even from a young age. She further pursed her education by attending Baltimore County Community College receiving her Associates Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in 2015. Jenny has a passion for working with children and their families. She believes parent participation and collaboration is vital in therapy. Jenny has experience working in different pediatric settings including schools, pre-schools, daycares, and private practice. Beginning her career working in a private practice, Jenny’s population included ages 3-21 with various disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Visual Perceptual and Fine Motor Deficits, Sensory Processing Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Feeding Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Learning Disabilities. From there, Jenny worked in a public separate day school treating medically fragile children and adolescents with Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairments, and other genetic disorders. It was there that Jenny learned that the little moments of success are indeed big moments and should be celebrated! Jenny has a passion for finding the just right challenge during therapy sessions while always making the child feel successful. Jenny enjoys bringing creativity, messy play, movement, patience, and energy to her treatment sessions. Jenny and her husband just moved to Cary and are enjoying exploring the outdoors with their dog. Outside of work, Jenny enjoys biking, traveling, art, and spending time with family and friends.

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Alyson Davis, MOT, OTR/L

Alyson received her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Louisiana Tech University and then went on to receive her Master’s of Occupational Therapy from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. After receiving her Master’s Degree in 2014, Alyson moved to North Carolina with her husband to start her career as a pediatric occupational therapist. Alyson has worked in multiple settings, including daycares, outpatient clinics, schools, and homes, and she has worked with children with a variety of diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, developmental delay, ADHD, anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Alyson has extensive experience utilizing a sensory integrative approach during therapy sessions and believes in the importance of motivating, child-led therapy to maximize progress. Alyson has advanced training in the Safe and Sound Protocol, Handwriting Without Tears, the ALERT program, and LAMP (Language Acquisition Through Motor Planning). She also has experience utilizing Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, and Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) in her therapy sessions. Alyson believes strongly in the importance of a team approach and enjoys collaborating with families and other disciplines to maximize a child’s progress across environments. In her spare time, Alyson likes to listen to music and enjoy the outdoors with her husband and son.

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Janine Fogarty, COTA/L

Janine is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant with over nine years of experience working in various areas of developmental disabilities. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at York College in New York City. Janine worked in the city as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, connecting children and their families to well-deserved services. Soon after, she obtained her Applied Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant at Suffolk County Community College in New York. Witnessing the impact Occupational Therapy can have on someone’s life firsthand, is what drew Janine to this career. She finds joy in the little things in life because they are all parts of the bigger picture. She believes in considering the whole person and discovering what motivates them. By doing so, she can create interventions that are encouraging and at the “just right challenge.” Being able to maximize a child’s capacity to play, be included and grow to their full potential is truly fulfilling. Contributing to the process and seeing a difference, not only humbles her but fuels her to explore and learn more. She has experience in home and community-based settings working with children with autism, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorders, developmental delays, and more. She has worked both in the school setting as a teacher’s assistant and a respite worker. She has experience using communication boards, transition pictures, various devices, interactive metronome, vibe plate, weighted vests and more. In response to the pandemic, she helped create, launch, and facilitate a telehealth program for children. Janine is a volunteer Program Director at a summer camp for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. She has been involved with the organization since 2011. With her background in sports and fitness, she develops and facilitates the sports activities for the children with the proper modifications. She is also a part of the leadership team and helps with planning throughout the year. She feels lucky to be able to help provide this experience for the children so that they could do what is most important in their lives, to be a kid. Janine and her husband recently moved to the area to be closer to family. Outside of work and volunteering, she enjoys going on adventures, exploring new places, playing board games, and trying new foods!

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Venus Griffith, COTA/L

Venus is a passionate and dynamic pediatric therapist whose personal experience with her youngest daughter, a micro preemie diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, led her to devote her life to helping other children and families overcome adversity. Watching her child achieve milestones with the assistance of skilled and caring therapists helped her understand the unique and vital role Occupational Therapists serve in helping children gain independence. She has experience working with children in the school and outpatient settings with a wide array of diagnoses including developmental delays, Autism, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, sensory processing disorders, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, and gross and fine motor deficits. She is a licensed and board certified Occupational Therapy Assistant who is skilled in working with families and caregivers as well as collaborating with other practitioners to help individuals develop and reach their personal goals. Venus has diverse experience working with both adults and children and enjoys working with families to help each individual reach their full potential. Venus resides in Goldsboro with her two daughters Alivia, 11 and Amelia, 7, and their English bulldog, Texy. In our spare time we love to go to church, watch movies and play sports outdoors, and try out new restaurants.

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C. Allyson Harman, MS, OTR/L

Bio Coming Soon!

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Meghan Machin, COTA/L

Meghan is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant. She graduated from Cortland State University with a Bachelor' of Science in Special Education. While teaching, Meghan first learned about Occupational Therapy and quickly realized it was her true calling. Meghan further pursed her education by attending Suffolk County Community College receiving her Associates Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in 2015. Meghan has worked in a variety of pediatric settings where she treated populations of age 2-21 with various disorders such as Developmental Delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD/ADD, Visual Perceptual and Fine Motor Deficits, Opposition Defiant Disorder and Down Syndrome. Meghan has some experience with specialized tools such as Weighted Vest, Proprioceptive Vest, and Therapeutic Listening. Meghan has a passion for working with children and understands the value of working closely with their families. She believes parent collaboration is a vital part of the therapeutic team. Meghan and her husband just moved to Clayton with their one-year-old son from Long Island, New York. They are enjoying exploring their new surroundings. Outside of work, Meghan enjoys traveling, music, finding a good coffee spot, trying new restaurants, and spending time with family and friends.

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Anika Schuyler, COTA/L

Anika is a certified and licensed occupational therapy assistant with experience working in the pediatric outpatient setting. It is her passion to empower children to conquer their own world. Anika values working closely with families to provide the best outcome for the child. Anika spends her time outside of the office with her fiancé, at the gym or exploring the beautiful state of NC.

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Alyssa Smith, COTA/L

Alyssa graduated from Pitt Community College in 2016, earning her Associate's Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. She has since worked with both the pediatric and adult populations, specializing in early intervention. Prior to starting her career in Occupational Therapy, Alyssa spent ten years as a nanny working with children with and without special needs and their families. It was on this journey that she was introduced to the profession of occupational therapy and she witnessed first-hand the difference OT made in the lives of children and their caregivers. She was inspired by the occupational therapist and the intimate relationship that evolved in therapy, empowering and unleashing a child's hidden potential. Alyssa has also spent a great deal of time volunteering for Pitt County Schools adaptive physical education programs, helping children with special needs actively participate in physical activities alongside their peers. For Alyssa, it is a privilege to help support and encourage children to participate in daily tasks and overcome obstacles and barriers that may seem impossible or insurmountable. Alyssa is a dynamic therapist who brings skill, creativity, excitement, and compassion to her treatment approach, specializing in child and family centered interventions to help clients meet their goals. She is experienced in developmental delays, fine and gross motor delays, visual processing and visual perceptual skill impairments, sensory processing disorder, autism, and Down Syndrome. On a personal note, Alyssa is happily married to her husband Gray. They live in Clayton with their two energetic dogs, Charley and Sadie. Alyssa has a passion for music, crafting, and the outdoors.

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Brittany Smith, COTA/L

Brittany is a highly skilled and trained Occupational Therapy Assistant. As a therapist, and as a mom to 2 teenagers, Brittany is passionate about working with children, helping them access their inner strength and determination so they are able to reach their full potential. She firmly believes that trust and commitment should be the foundation of any relationship. She is keenly aware how important the therapeutic relationship is to functional progress, helping children feel safe and empowered to step outside their comfort zone. Brittany has volunteered extensively in the public school system, helping children to adapt to their environment and to achieve their classroom goals. Brittany has diverse experience working with adults and children with brain injuries in various settings, and understands the unique presentation of each individual with a brain injury. It is always her commitment to recognize the strengths of her clients and adapt client centered treatment plans. She has also worked in the school environment as well as outpatient pediatric setting, working with a variety of diagnoses including sensory processing disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome, and developmental delays. Brittany believes in a holistic approach when treating the child, actively involving the family to maximize follow through and carry over. Brittany has an interest in sensory processing disorders, Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Brittany lives in Bailey with her 14-year-old daughter Jocelyn and 13-year-old son Landon along with a house full of animals including 2 dogs, 3 cats and a feisty hedgehog. She has volunteered in her children’s schools, with the church and participates every year in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” as this is a passion of hers. Brittany enjoys spending as much time as she can with her extended family and friends on the boat at the lake or venturing out for whatever activity they pick for the day.

Penny Wood, MS, OTR/L

Penny is a graduate of Towson University with her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, with over 25 years of experience working with children and adults. She is specialized in the areas of sensory integration, picky eating, and fine motor skills. She is certified in Therapeutic Listening, including use of Quick Shifts; Astronaut Training (visual-vestibular-auditory triad); and Interactive Metronome (IM). Penny excels at maximizing functional independence for self care, vision/visual perceptual skills, and integrating family-professional partnerships. Outside of work, Penny enjoys horseback riding, playing with her dogs, biking, hiking, and kayaking.

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