Our Therapists

Overview

Each of our occupational therapists and speech language pathologists at Skills for Kids are members of their national professional association – the Australian Association of Occupational Therapists or Speech Pathology Australia. Additional to this membership, therapists participate in ongoing professional development. This takes the form of mentoring within Skills for Kids and external study or courses.

All of the occupational therapists at Skills for Kids are registered with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia. Speech language pathologists are each involved in Professional Self-Regulation Certification through Speech Pathology Australia. Registration and certification provide an objective means of structuring, measuring and acknowledging a therapist’s commitment to continuing professional development and assure professional excellence in the delivery of our service to children, parents and teachers.

All of the therapists are registered to provide services through private health funds, Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). See Rebates and Funding Options for further information.

Our Director and Principal Occupational Therapist is Dr Susan Lowe

Our Clinical Managers Occupational Therapy are Samantha Miles and Stephanie Baker

Our Clinical Manager Speech Language Pathology is Jackie McCarty

Our Clinical Leader and Senior Occupational Therapist is Ashleigh Fairbairn

Our Senior Occupational Therapists are Bec Newton, Julianne Challita and Rachel Summerville

Our Senior Speech Language Pathologist is Sarah Pritchard

Our Occupational Therapists are Bethany Storm, Elise Mifsud, Jessica Rupesinghe, Mariam Shadid,

Mel Elvery, Monisha Ingold and Shannon Stringer

Our speech language pathologists are Beth Marley, Meg Savage, Taneal Norman, and Zabelle Betchakjian

Our Office Manager is Nadine Stutchbury

Our Receptionists are Colleen Tucker, Karen Fleming and Josie Fenech

Do see below for details about our team.


Dr Susan Lowe

Registered Occupational Therapist
PhD MAppSc(OT) GradCertHlthSc(OT) DipOT

Dr Susan Lowe is the Owner and Principal Occupational Therapist at Skills for Kids. Susan graduated in 1975 and has worked in mental health, physical rehabilitation, community health and paediatrics. Susan is uniquely positioned within the occupational therapy profession and within the education system having worked as an occupational therapist within clinic and school settings for 28 years. She is a highly qualified conference presenter and mentor, resulting from her work with children who experience learning, intellectual, social, behavioural and physical difficulties. She combines practical experience with extensive research having completed a PhD focusing on ‘Cognitive Strategies and School Participation for Students with Learning Difficulties’. Susan now teaches at international programmes, school professional development days and teacher / parent workshops. She also provides mentoring services to occupational therapists. Susan is passionate about establishing strong partnerships between teachers, parents and therapists, increasing children’s readiness for learning through more efficient thinking strategies, and developing resilience in vulnerable children.

Susan is author with Dr Christine Chapparo of the PRPP@SCHOOL Teacher Questionnaire and PRPP@HOME Parent Questionnaire. These questionnaires form a companion assessment tool to the Perceive, Recall, Plan and Perform (PRPP) System of Task Analysis (Chapparo and Ranka, 2005). The purpose of the PRPP@SCHOOL Teacher Questionnaire and PRPP@HOME Parent Questionnaire, as part of a comprehensive assessment, is to gather information about teacher and parent observations of children’s cognitive strategy use for participation in everyday activities at school, home and community. Susan and the occupational therapists in her practice use this valid and reliable assessment to provide a dynamic, contextual and cognitive based intervention approach for children, increasing their skills, confidence and enjoyment. Susan has co-authored ‘Work At School: Teacher And Parent Perceptions About Children’s Participation’ in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, 36(2), 249-256 and ‘School: Participating In More Than Just The Classroom’ in Kids Will Be Kids: A Childhood Occupations Approach edited by S. Lane & A. Bundy. Fun facts about Susan: She enjoys kayaking and swimming, looks forward to every family celebration and loves relaxing with a book in her backyard.

 


Samantha Miles

Registered Occupational Therapist
BAppSc(OT)

Sam is a Clinical Manager and Senior Occupational Therapist at Skills for Kids. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 2003 and has worked with adolescents and adults with mild to severe physical disabilities, as well as children and adolescents with intellectual and learning difficulties. Sam has a particular interest in working with preschool children and has developed our ’Getting Ready for Kindergarten Camp’ which she runs annually.

Sam has completed courses including

  • Developing Effective Pretend Play Skills in Children (Associate Professor Karen Stagnitti)
  • NSW Board of Studies Disability Provisions: Release of Guidelines for Occupational Therapists (Occupational Therapy Australia)
  • Hypermobility in Children: Identification and Management (Occupational Therapy Australia)
  • Getting Kids in Sync: A Sensory Approach to Challenges Associated with Autism, ADHD, Learning and Behavioural Disorders (Genevieve Jereb)
  • Helping Children with Autism (OT Australia)
  • Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (Sue Larkey)
  • DIR (Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based Model) Floor time (Georgina Arhens)
  • Visual Perception: Assessment and Intervention for Children with Learning Disorders (The University of Sydney)
  • Practical Intervention Strategies for Therapists and their Clients with ASD (OT Australia).
  • Teaching Strategies and Behaviour Support for Children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (Sue Larkey)
  • Sensory Strategies Based in Occupation (Genevieve Jereb)
  • Occupational Therapy and Autism: The Occupational Therapy Role in Diagnosis, Intervention and Integration/Inclusion ( Dr Christine Chapparo)
  • Effective Strategies for Improving Students Motivation and Behaviour (CHERI)

Stephanie Baker

Registered Occupational Therapist
BAppSc(OT) GradCertHlthSc(OT)

Steph is a Clinical Manager and Senior Occupational Therapist at Skills for Kids. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 1989 and has worked with infants, children and adolescents in a range of settings. Steph’s wisdom and extensive experience with assessment and documentation is highly valued!

Steph has completed courses including

  • Graduate Certificate of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy) focussing on specific areas of theory, assessment and intervention for children with learning and coordination difficulties in areas of handwriting, writing, tool use, play, sensory processing, information processing and Autism Spectrum Disorder (University of Sydney)
  • NSW Board of Studies Disability Provisions: Release of Guidelines for Occupational Therapists (Occupational Therapy Australia)
  • Hypermobility in Children: Identification and Management (Occupational Therapy Australia)
  • Goal Directed Training of Hand Function for Children with Cerebral Palsy (University of Sydney)
  • Getting Kids in Sync: A Sensory Approach to Challenges associated with Autism, ADHD, Learning and Behavioural Disorders (Gen Jereb)
  • Helping Children with Autism (Occupational Therapy Australia)
  • Effective Strategies for Improving Students Motivation and Behaviour (CHERI)
  • Assistive Technology for Tremors (Assistive Technology Australia)

Jacqueline McCarty

Certified Practising Speech Language Pathologist
BAppSc (Speech Path), BA (Linguistics), MSPAA

Jackie is a Clinical Manager and Senior Speech Language Pathologist at Skills for Kids. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 2001 and is passionate about working with children and their families to assist them in achieving the best possible outcomes with their communication. Jackie has worked in primary health, tertiary health, Department of Education and in private practice; as well as having experience as a Professional Practice Educator with the Australian Catholic University. She is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, a member of Speech Pathology Australia and is committed to using evidence based practice in her assessment and intervention.

Jackie’s clinical expertise includes extensive experience working with children, from 1 to 18 years of age, who have difficulties developing the skills necessary for speech and language development. She has experience working with children with hearing impairment, Downs’ Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her specialty interests include working with children with learning and literacy difficulties as well as those with significant articulation, phonological difficulties and childhood apraxia of speech.

Jackie has completed courses including

  • The Hanen It Takes Two to Talk Certification Workshop
  • Evidence-based Diagnosis and Treatment of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) (Dr Elizabeth Murray)
  • Multilit Reading Tutor Program
  • Difficulties transitioning children to a range of food textures and types (Sarah Starr)
  • Key Interventions for children with autism and their families (Dr Jacqueline Roberts)
  • Carol Gray Social Stories Workshop

Ashleigh Fairbairn

Registered Occupational Therapist
BOccTher (Hons)

Ashleigh is a Clinical Leader and Senior Occupational Therapist at Skills for Kids. Ashleigh completed her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy with Honours at the Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand. Ashleigh has completed post graduate professional development in client education, clinical reasoning, qualitative research in practice and quantitative research in practice. Ashleigh’s experience in mentoring and supporting young people to navigate the path of adolescence is very much welcomed!

Ashleigh has presented papers at the following conferences:

  • Fairbairn, A. (2013). Occupational Perceptions of Adolescents in Rural New Zealand. Paper presented at the 25th Occupational Therapy Australia National Conference. Adelaide.
  • Fairbairn, A, (2012). Rural Adolescent Occupations. Paper presented at the Māramatanga Hou Fresh Perspectives 2012 New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapy Conference. Hamilton, New Zealand.

Ashleigh has completed courses including:

  • Understanding Autism Spectrum Condition (Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett)
  • There is a Traffic Jam in my Brain: Autism/ADHD/LD – A Developmental Approach to Well-Being for your Child (Gen Jereb)
  • How to Understand a Child’s Occupation of Play in Occupational Therapy Paediatric Sessions (Dr Karen Stagnitti)

Bec Newton

Registered Occupational Therapist
BAppSc(OT)

Bec is a Senior Occupational Therapist at Skills for Kids. She completed her Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) at the University of Sydney in 2009 and began working at Skills for Kids in September of that year.  A wide range of professional interests has resulted in Bec working with children who experience social, behavioural and emotional difficulties as well as challenges with eating and sleeping.

Bec has completed courses including

  • Developing Effective Pretend Play Skills in Children (Associate Professor Karen Stagnitti)
  • Intervention Approaches for Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism Spectrum Australia)
  • Getting Kids in Sync: A Sensory Approach to Challenges Associated with Autism, ADHD, Learning and Behavioural Disorders (Genevieve Jereb)
  • Intervention Approaches for Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism Spectrum Australia)
  • Learning to Conquer the Wees & Poos: Behavioural Management of Constipation / Soiling and Urinary Incontinence in Children (Rebecca Khan)

Julianne Challita

Registered Occupational Therapist
BAppSc(OT) (Hons)

Julianne, one of our Senior Occupational Therapy Clinicians, graduated from the University of Sydney with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) in 2014. She is extremely enthusiastic about working with children and has a special interest in social cognition and teaching children to apply thinking strategies in order to increase their participation. Julianne presents papers at international and national conferences on this topic. She is currently completing a PhD in evidence-based occupational therapy practice.

Julianne has completed courses including

  • Perceive Recall Plan and Perform (PRPP) System of Task Analysis Assessment (Dr Chris Chapparo and Dr Judy Ranka)
  • Perceive Recall Plan and Perform (PRPP) System of Task Analysis Intervention (Dr Chris Chapparo and Dr Judy Ranka)

Rachel Summerville

Registered Occupational Therapist
BAppSc(OT) GradCert(Autism Studies)  M(Autism Studies)

Rachel, a Senior Occupational Therapy Clinician, completed her Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) at the University of Western Sydney in 2011 and began working at Skills for Kids in November, 2011. In 2010, Rachel was involved in a community paediatrics program as part of a 6 month university exchange to San Jose California. It was this experience which stimulated Rachel’s commitment to help increase children’s participation in the school environment. Rachel brings passion, enthusiasm and skill to her sessions with children.

Rachel has completed courses including

  • Post Graduate Certificate in Autism, Griffith University (2015)
  • Masters of Autism, Griffith University (2017)
  • Developing Effective Pretend Play Skills in Children (Associate Professor Karen Stagnitti)
  • There is a Traffic Jam in my Brain: Autism/ADHD/LD – A Developmental Approach to Well-Being for your Child (Gen Jereb)
  • Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders (Tony Attwood and Sue Larkey)

Sarah Pritchard

Certified Practicing Speech Language Pathologist
B SpPath MSPAA

Sarah is a Senior Certified Practicing Speech Language Pathologist, who completed her Bachelor of Speech Pathology at the University of Newcastle in 2008. She has experience working in community health, hospital, private clinic, home and school settings. Sarah has strong communication and interpersonal skills which establish a great rapport with children, parents and teachers.

Sarah has completed courses including

  • Appability –Speech Therapy (Nichola Midgley, Northcott)
  • Speech Sound Disorders: The Basics and Beyond (Dr Caroline Bowen)
  • Key Word Sign (Meagan Rudd)
  • Developing Effective Pretend Play Skills (Dr Alison Winkworth and Associate Professor Karen Stagnitti
  • Recent Advances in Aphasia Rehabilitation (Speech Pathology Australia)
  • In Bed with Dysphagia (John Hunter Hospital)
  • Introduction to Auslan (Australian Sign Language) (The University of Newcastle)
  • Speech Sound and Phonological Assessment and Intervention…..Making it work! (Barbara Dodd)

Bethany Storm

Registered Occupational Therapist
BSc MOT

Bethany completed her Bachelor of Health Science and Masters of Occupational Therapy from the University of Western Sydney in 2014. Growing up and living in the Blue Mountains, she is enthusiastic to work with children and their families within her local area. She has experience working in hospitals and has excellent communication skills allowing her to build rapport with clients and their families. Bethany is passionate and committed to using current research evidence to guide her practice to achieve the best possible outcomes for each of her clients. Fun Facts about Bethany: She loves instant coffee and much prefers it to a café bought cappuccino. She usually drinks her first coffee for the day in the shower.


Elise Mifsud

Registered Occupational Therapist
BHlthSc MOT (Hons)

Elise graduated from Western Sydney University with First Class Honours, in a Bachelor of Health Science and Master of Occupational Therapy in 2017. Elise delights in working with children and adolescents. Her honours project focused on the social experiences of young people with cerebral palsy. Through this research, Elise has developed a deeper understanding of the importance of social participation and is keen to implement strategies to promote social participation in children at Skills for Kids. Fun facts about Elise: Elise enjoys spending time outdoors and keeping active. She has a particular interest in kayaking and photography.


Jessica Rupesinghe

Registered Occupational Therapist
BHlthSc MOT

Jessica completed her Master of Occupational Therapy at the University of Sydney in 2015. She has worked as a program counsellor at a summer camp for adults and children with disabilities in the USA, leading activities in the arts, crafts and sensory processing. Jessica also has paediatric experience working at a private practice in Canberra. Having grown up in the Blue Mountains, she is very enthusiastic about working with children and their families within this community. She is passionate about helping children participate meaningfully at school, particularly through the development of fine motor and social skills. Fun facts about Jessica: She enjoys going for walks, drawing and trying to cook new food (but not so much washing up after!). She loves the colour blue and her favourite Disney movie is Aladdin.

Jessica has completed the following courses:

Helping Children with Autism (OT Australia)
There’s a traffic Jam in my Brain (Gen Jereb)
Cognitive Orientation to Daily Occupational Performance (OT Australia)
Sensory Processing & Impact on Every Day Life (Winnie Dunn)


Melissa Elvery

Registered Occupational Therapist
BAppSC (OT)(Hons)

Mel graduated in 2017 from the University of Sydney with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) and joined the team at Skills for Kids in 2018. Melissa’s honours project focused on handwriting research using standardised handwriting assessments for school aged children. She has always had a passion for working with children, with experience throughout both her personal and professional life. Melissa is enthusiastic about, and committed to,  using evidence based approaches in order to support the participation and engagement of children in meaningful life roles. Fun facts about Mel: She loves all things adventure and can’t live without chocolate!

Mel has completed courses including:

·         The ABCD’s of DCD & Printing Like a Pro (Jill Zwicker)


Monisha Ingold

Registered Occupational Therapist
BHlthSc (Hons) MOT

Monisha graduated from Western Sydney University with First Class Honours in her Bachelor of Health Science/Masters of Occupational Therapy. She was the recipient of the Occupational Therapy Australia Award for Clinical Fieldwork Excellence in her final year of studies. Monisha presented her honours research in 2017 at the Health Beyond Research and Innovation Showcase and the 5th NSW Aged Health Collaborative Forum. Monisha has a strong passion for working with children and families to support and maximise children’s development. Prior to becoming an occupational therapist, she worked as an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher with children and adults in Australia, Japan and Georgia. Fun facts about Monisha: Monisha loves music and plays the piano. If she could, she would eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner!


Shannon Stringer

Registered Occupational Therapist
BHlthSc  MOT

Shannon completed her Bachelor of Health Science and Master of Occupational Therapy at Western Sydney University in 2017. Shannon has a passion for working with children and young people and has worked with children in school-based and clinic settings. Shannon has participated in volunteer work with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her Masters research project focused on the experiences of siblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Shannon has a commitment to providing tailored, family-centred practice. She is dedicated to using her skills and enthusiasm to enable children to participate in everyday activities. Fun facts about Shannon: She is an avid fan of Disney movies and has a Disney collection, her favourite food is ice-cream and her hobby is baking


Beth Marley

Speech Language Pathologist
BSpPath (Hons)

Beth completed her Bachelor of Speech Pathology with honours at the University of Newcastle in 2016. Along with her colleagues at Skills for Kids, Beth is committed to using current research evidence to guide her practice. Beth has experience working in schools, camps, community health centres, private practices, and hospitals. She has been involved in volunteering, workshops and community engagement programs in which she provided services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. Beth enjoys working within multidisciplinary teams and values collaborating with parents, teachers, occupational therapists and other professionals to enhance the quality and holistic nature of her work with children. Beth is particularly interested in providing naturalistic, family centred therapy and is motivated to increase children’s functional communication abilities in everyday activities and experiences.


Meg Savage

Speech Language Pathologist
BSpPath (Hons)

Meg completed her Bachelor of Speech Pathology degree with honours at The University of Newcastle in 2016. Growing up and living in the Blue Mountains District, she is dedicated to working in, and providing services to people within her community to allow them to function and communicate in their everyday contexts. Meg is committed to using evidence based practice as well as working closely with families and other professionals to deliver a goal-orientated and holistic approach to therapy with her clients. Meg has experience in working in community health, private practice, school and hospital settings and has strong communication skills allowing her to build great rapport with clients and their families. Meg is passionate about working with children with communication difficulties and assisting them in building the skills they need to communicate with their parents, teachers and peers.


Taneal Norman

Speech Language Pathologist
BSpPath (Hons)

Taneal completed her Bachelor of Speech Pathology with honours at the Australian Catholic University in 2017 and began working at Skills for Kids in December, 2017. Taneal is bubbly and enthusiastic, priding herself on her strong interpersonal and communication skills. She brings these qualities to her sessions and is able to build great rapport with clients, their families and educators. Taneal has experience working with children and adolescents with communication and swallowing difficulties in home, school, community, hospital and private practice settings. She enjoys working with families to ensure therapy is functional, holistic and enhances participation in daily life. Taneal is passionate about creating inclusive learning environments and enjoys working with educators to integrate communication goals within the classroom. She is committed to using evidence based practice in her assessment and intervention. Taneal is also interested in research, with ambitions to further her research in the future. Taneal’s honours project explored a school-based oral language and early literacy program based on Aboriginal stories, language and culture. Her research had a focus on building the capacity of educators to support the oral language and literacy development of their students. Taneal has recently been selected to present the findings of her study at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference in Adelaide in May, 2018. Fun facts about Taneal: She has an irrational fear of alpacas and llamas!


Zabelle Betchakjian

Speech Language Pathologist
BAppSc (SP)

Zabelle completed her Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) at the University of Sydney in 2016. Together with the team at Skills for Kids, Zabelle is committed to working in partnership with families, educators and other professionals to deliver therapy that is both functional and holistic. She has experience providing services to children with developmental delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD to improve their speech, language and literacy. Zabelle is passionate about helping children participate in their school community in ways that promote positive learning experiences, self-confidence and access to the curriculum.


Nadine Stutchbury, Karen Fleming, Colleen Tucker and Josie Fenech

Our administrative staff will be answering your phone call or greeting you in the reception room. They are responsible for organising the timetabling of assessments and intervention, sending and receiving accounts, as well as being the glue which holds us together. If they can’t answer your questions they will quickly find someone who can.

Interesting facts about

·         Nadine: She loves ridding her horse (Bella) and her favourite colour is blue.
·         Karen: She likes music, reading and sharing delicious meals with friends.
·         Colleen: She likes race cars, playing with LEGO, taking photos and baking bread.

Nadine 2Nadine Stutchbury
KarenKaren Fleming
rsz_009Colleen Tucker
Josie Fenech