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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.


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


  • Down Syndrome


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!



Fine motor strength for grasping and releasing

Handwriting Manipulation of feeding utensils

Hand-eye coordination

Playing catch


Brushing teeth
Combing hair

Management of feelings of frustration, diffuse anger, and impulsivity

Coping emotionally

Gross motor coordination

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



  • Letter formation

  • Number formation


Cognitive development

  • Not learning at an age-appropriate level



  • 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


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.


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.


Gina Campbell COTA/L

Gina is a highly skilled and trained Occupational Therapy Assistant. She graduated in 2004 from Charles Stewart Mott Community College with an Associate in Applied Science degree, specializing in Occupational Therapy, and has been working in the field as a COTA/L ever since. As a therapist, and as a mom to 3 adult children, one with Autism, Gina is passionate about working with children, to help them access their inner strengths, so they can reach their fullest potential. Gina firmly believes that trust and commitment should be the foundation of any relationship. She is highly aware how important the therapeutic relationship is to functional progress, helping children feel safe and empowered to step outside their comfort zone. Gina has worked extensively in the public school systems in Michigan and North Carolina, helping children to adapt to their environment and to achieve their classroom goals. Gina has also worked in a pediatric outpatient setting, working with a variety of diagnoses including sensory processing disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome, developmental delays, visual processing disorders, and behavior management. Gina has experience working with young and middle-aged adults with brain injuries in various settings, and she understands the unique presentation of everyone with a brain injury. It is always her commitment to recognize the strengths of her clients and adapt client centered treatment plans. Gina believes in a holistic approach when treating the child, actively involving the family to maximize follow through and carry over. Gina has an interest in sensory processing disorders, Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Gina lives in Sanford with her husband of 32 years, along their 2 dogs. Gina enjoys spending as much time as she can with her family, loves to read, loves to dance, and love a new adventure!

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Sarah Davis, MS, OTR/L

Sarah is a licensed and registered occupational therapist who is passionate in working with children and their families in order to meet each individual child’s needs in supporting them to learn and grow. She is a proud graduate of Utica College (now Utica University) located in upstate New York where she graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Health Studies, followed by her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy. Sarah knew that she wanted to become a pediatric occupational therapist when she had the opportunity to travel abroad to the Dominican Republic during her graduate school fieldwork. In her time abroad, Sarah had the opportunity to learn and develop her clinical skills working with children with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities alongside other occupational therapists within pediatric residential, outpatient, and school-based settings. She also presented at the Asociación Dominicana de Rehabilitación conference where she discussed fine motor skill development and treatment strategies with teachers, caregivers, and occupational therapy colleagues. Sarah found that it was extremely beneficial to learn and share knowledge regarding occupational therapy evaluation techniques and treatment strategies with colleagues from other cultures. Sarah is originally from upstate New York where she was born and raised in the Adirondack Mountains. She and her husband moved to Raleigh in 2018 when Sarah began working as an occupational therapist with the Wake County Public School System. In her 5 years of school-based experience, Sarah served students ages 3-21 with varying abilities. She gained experience working with students with cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Delays, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Intellectual Disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorders, Seizure disorders, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Visual Impairments. Sarah resides in Clayton with her husband, newborn daughter, and French bulldog named Jarvis. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, visiting family and friends, exploring the Raleigh area, attending Carolina Hurricane games, and completing home improvement projects. Fun Fact: During her time at Utica College, Sarah competed in Track & Field as a jumper. She holds many of the University’s indoor and outdoor track records, and was a two time nationally recognized All-American in the triple jump. Sarah was inducted into her Alma Mater’s Hall of Fame last spring!

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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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Amber Golden-Parker, COTA/L

Amber completed an Applied Associates Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant at Durham Community College. She discovered occupational therapy when her child was receiving services, after which she found a passion for the profession and pursued a career in the field. She believes that building a relationship with the child is one of the most important aspects of client care. It allows the child to feel comfortable in the space, explore the environment, and develop motivation to engage in activities. Amber has worked in a pediatric outpatient clinic as well as local daycares, helping children to overcome barriers as well as modifying the environment to better suit them. She has experience working with a variety of diagnoses including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder. She has found that following a child's lead is a great way to build intrinsic motivation, consequently promoting good outcomes. Amber is also an advocate for utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to provide client centered and holistic care. She believes that treatment is most effective when the client's team is in the same field. Amber currently lives in Smithfield with her family and two dogs. She enjoys testing out new restaurants, drawing, and relaxing by a campfire.


Shaina Kale, COTA/L

Shaina is a graduate of Pitt Community College with a A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy and a Master's in Healthcare Administration from Louisiana State University Shreveport. She currently has over 12 years of rehab experience with 5 years’ experience as a COTA working in the pediatric setting with a desire to help children and families achieve their goals through engaging learning opportunities and coaching metho ds using a family centered practice model. Shaina is creative and bubbly, is CPR certified through the American Heart Association, has a strong clinical background and is comfortable serving children and families with multiple diagnosis including: •ADD/ADHD •Autism (ASD) •Cerebral Palsy (CP)/ Musculoskeletal concerns •Developmental Delays •Feeding dysfunctions •Gross/Fine Motor Skills •Genetic Conditions •Prematurity concerns •Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) As a part of her continued growth and desire to pour into the field of OT, she became a Fieldwork Educator in 2020 just as the pandemic began and quickly had to learn how to get creative not only in providing therapeutic services to clients but also in teaching others how to provide therapeutic services in a non-traditional way (Telehealth). Because of that experience, she has learned how to organize and create projects with well-coordinated and performance-driven strategies while continuing with excellent relationship-building and planning abilities. She is a Certified Allied Health Instructor and an adjunct teacher at a community college in the OTA program, supporting and facilitating learning with current OTA students in the classroom setting. When Shaina is not working she loves to spend time with her husband and 2 boys. When they aren't at the baseball field, you can find her reading, participating in arts and crafts, drawing, listening to good music to find new artists or a combination of it all!

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Bethany Lenox, MS, OTR/L

Bethany grew up immersed in the therapy world from a young age since she received early intervention services and OT and PT throughout her childhood. She knew from seventh grade through the encouragement of therapists in her own life that she wanted to give back other children the way her therapists had given to her. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Human Occupation from D’Youville College (now university) in Buffalo, New York with an educational focus on pediatrics. She also focused on learning to meet children’s sensory needs so she could help them achieve their potential and thrive in their environment. She gained experience in a variety of settings throughout her education; including recreational programming for children and families with disabilities. This experience allowed her to provide them with exciting social opportunities and events with one on one peer buddies. While completing her level II rotations with geriatric adults and adults with physical and developmental disabilities, she learned how to help them to pursue their daily activities as well as the things that filled them with joy. These activities included fully adaptable water tables for sensory enjoyment and other sensory based outlets. Bethany is ecstatic to be joining the Abil-OT team with her passion for helping children and families reach their goals. She is excited to help them work toward living their lives to the fullest through strong family and therapist collaboration with a focus on autonomy and advocacy for children and their families. When not at work, Bethany can be found reading in her hammock swing, photographing trees and flowers, and spending time with friends and family.

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Kenan Stiehl Lewis, OTD, OTR/L

Kenan is a licensed occupational therapist who received a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology from High Point University and then pursued a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Methodist University. She developed a passion for pediatrics through volunteering at a hippotherapy center in college. Kenan has a broad range of clinical experiences in settings such as hand therapy, wellness centers, acute care, and school-based therapy. She is from Fayetteville, NC and now lives in Fort Liberty with her husband who is in the military. She is also a proud new mom of a baby girl. A fun fact about Kenan is that she has been an organ donor!


Madison Love, OTD, OTR/L

Madison attended the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and earned her Bachelors of Science in Biology. Upon graduation, Madison continued to pursue higher education by earning her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Methodist University. Madison has always had a passion for connecting with people of all backgrounds and cultures, helping people realize their potential and overcome adversity. As an Occupational Therapist, Madison is inspired by working with children and families, using her ingenuity and creativity to adapt physical, emotional and social barriers and increase independence. She has experience working with children with Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADD/ADHD, social-emotional and behavioral challenges and restrictive/avoiding feeding patterns. Madison has completed clinical rotations and internships in multiple settings working with individuals across the lifespan in various settings including Acute Care, Inpatient Rehab, Skilled Nursing Facilities, School-based and Outpatient Pediatrics. During Madison’s Doctoral Capstone, she developed objectives and standards to help address the mental health crisis and promote awareness, educating the community on the role of Occupational Therapy, and providing evidence-based interventions to optimize occupational balance and participation within foster care. Madison grew up in Kannapolis, NC, but is currently living in Spring Lake, NC with her husband and dog Sage.


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.


Amber Pinksy, MS, OTR/L

Amber is a Pirate Alumni who received a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreational Therapy from East Carolina University. After receiving her graduate degree in 2015, Amber worked as an OT in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee with adults recovering from strokes and traumatic brain injuries. Amber gained extensive experience problem-solving solutions to support patients’ independence with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, toileting, etc.) in addition to instrumental activities of daily living (medication management, cooking, driving, etc.) When Amber & her husband relocated to Raleigh, NC in 2016, she decided to pursue a career in pediatrics, a lifelong passion of hers. Amber worked for Wake County Public Schools for 5.5 years, serving students age 3-15 with a variety of needs and abilities. She managed a caseload of 40-55 students, gaining experience working with children with developmental delays, learning disabilities, cancer, Autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Prader-Willi syndrome, dyslexia, dysgraphia, intellectual disabilities, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, conduct disorder, and sensory processing disorder. Amber has extensive experience teaching the building blocks for handwriting, including facilitation of in-service trainings for fellow therapists, co-workers, and families served. Learning without tears is one of Amber’s favorite multi-sensory interventions for facilitating handwriting development. Some of Amber’s favorite opportunities as a school-based OT include: 1. advocating for students’ unique needs by creating customize IEP plans with the team, 2. adapting their physical learning environments, and 3. collaborating with parents, teachers, physical therapists, and speech therapists to ensure carryover of valuable skills learned in therapy. In addition to working as a school-based OT, Amber gained experience in Early Intervention with a private OT company part time (after school hours and during school breaks). Amber served children ages 6 months - 10 years old, providing therapy in-home and in daycare centers. One of Amber’s favorite things about working in early intervention was building therapeutic rapport with clients, family members, daycare teachers, and other service providers. Amber learned the importance of adaptability and creativity by utilizing toys/items within the children’s homes to provide a holistic approach to treatment. During this opportunity, Amber gained experience with developmental positioning, range of motion, and adaptive feeding techniques to support family mealtimes and quality of life. Amber is a proud mom to 3 beautiful kiddos, which include her daughter (3 years old) and twin boys (1 years old). Her favorite hobbies include going jogging and bike riding with her family, working out at the gym, reading anything by Kristin Hannah, baking, and taking their 9 year old labradoodle (Elsa) on walks. Amber is overjoyed to be on the talented Abil-OT team! She is very much looking forward to working with you and your family as your occupational therapist!

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Staci Rightmyer, COTA/L

Staci is a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant. She graduated from Pitt Community College where she gained experience in a variety of settings, but knew her heart was in pediatrics. Her passion is to provide kids new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow to their full potential. She believes in the collaboration between therapist and family and understands that it is fundamental to empowering the child and family. She also values the importance of advocating for the kids and families we serve while advocating for the profession in its entirety. In her free time Staci enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching movies, and doing anything arts and crafts


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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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.

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