H A P P Y S U M M E R

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fine motor skills, sensory integration, pencil grip

Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Pediatric Occupational Therapy focuses on helping children develop the skills they need to grow into functional, independent adults that can participate in activities that are meaningful to them.   The primary goals of childhood are to grow, learn, and play. It is often through play that children learn to make sense of the world around them.  Through the use of play, the goal of occupational therapy is to improve body coordination, upper and lower body strength, functional strength, body awareness, and perceptual motor skills.  Some examples include:


Fine/Visual Motor Skills:

  • Pencil grasp
  • Cutting
  • Handwriting, drawing
  • Self-care tasks like feeding self, buttoning, tying shoes, etc.


Sensory Processing Skills:

  • Knowing where your body is in space/clumsiness/respecting personal space
  • Picky eating
  • Paying attention
  • Responding appropriately to sounds, sights, movement, textures, etc.
  • “Sensory Seekers”: Fidgety, touching peers, playing too rough, mouthing objects, etc.
  • “Sensory Avoiders”: Respond negatively to typical sounds, sights, movement, feelings, etc.  May tend to “shut down” easily.
  • Self-regulation, knowing how to calm down or rev up when needed


Motor Coordination and Planning:

  • Performing age-appropriate tasks like throwing, catching, kicking, copying actions, etc.
  • Sequencing tasks and planning daily routines


Social Skills:

  • Making new friends, greeting people appropriately
  • Being flexible in play, tolerating changes in plans
  • Sportsmanship, tolerating frustration

PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS

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Jennifer Kovanis, MS OTR/L

Jennifer is the founder and owner of Premier Children's Therapy Center.  She started Premier Children's Therapy Center in 2001 with a dream to reach more children and families, and to make a real difference in their lives by helping them to become the best they can be.


She obtained her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University in 1999.  Prior to becoming an Occupational Therapist, Jennifer gained her business expertise from working for the Federal Reserve Bank.  Jennifer's occupational therapy experience is rooted in her years working with catastrophic brain injury patients at The Shepherd Center.  


At Premier, she reaches children of all ages and all levels of need.  She continuously stays abreast of new and emerging concepts and trends in all disciplines.  She provides continuing education opportunities for all staff members and offers many resources for parents.  Jennifer has successfully raised two adult children and enjoys summer concerts under the stars. 

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Heidi Martin, MS OTR/L

Heidi received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Georgia in 1994. She continued her education by earning an additional Bachelor and Master degree in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University in 1999.

Her therapy experience covers all ages.  Her pediatric experience includes  working in the home, clinic and school setting with ages 0-12.  Heidi specializes in developing and implementing strategies related to fine motor (hand use/handwriting), visual motor, reflex integration and sensory  processing.  She has earned a reputation in several Atlanta schools for effectively treating children with these specialties as well as attention and organizational issues.  Additional clinical experience  includes Autism/Asperger Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and Learning Disabilities.

Heidi has been working with Premier Children’s Therapy Center since 2003.  She is passionate about helping kids and families progress towards achieving their goals. She has two teen aged boys.

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Leah Planchard, MS OTR/L

Leah received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006. She continued her education as a Tar Heel and received a Masters of Occupational Therapy in 2008.  

Leah’s clinical experience includes working with children with developmental delays, feeding problems/picky eaters, sensory processing difficulties, fine motor problems, autism, ADHD, motor coordination problems, and mental health issues.  She is Sensory Integration certified and can administer the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT).  She has also been trained in Handwriting Without Tears, the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Feeding Approach, and Brain Gym.  She also has an interest in ergonomics.  Leah’s experience includes outpatient clinic settings and schools.  She enjoys working with children of all ages.

Leah lives in Alpharetta with her husband and has a young son and daughter!

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Amy Reynolds, MS OTR/L

 

Amy received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from August State University in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia. She continued her education by earning her Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University in 2011. Her graduate level thesis involved revising the kinesthesia subtest of the Sensory Integration Praxis Test to make it more engaging to children.  


Amy spent her first four years after graduation working at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens, GA, where she treated patients of all ages. Her pediatric experience there included working with children with various diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, Mitochondrial Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury and developmental and motor delay. She obtained her Physical Agent Modalities certification and was able to apply modalities to children recovering from orthopedic and neurological injuries.


Since 2015, Amy has focused solely on pediatrics specializing in developing and implementing strategies to address fine motor skills/handwriting deficits, behaviors, sensory diet plans, visual motor skills, and overall developmental delays.  She has also been trained in Handwriting Without Tears, Therapeutic Listening, and Rhythmic Movement Training and Reflex Integration.  She enjoys working closely with families to educate and carryover helpful strategies to the home environment.


Amy is married with two young children and enjoys dancing, singing (we all love to hear it), and making children laugh!!!!!

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Michelle Shepherd, MS OTR/L

Michelle provides diagnostic and therapeutic expertise for developmental delays in fine motor/handwriting skills, sensory integration and Apraxia.  She has conducted handwriting and cursive camps for children over the summer months.  She works on site in the Hall County schools as well as in home care and here at the clinic.  


​Michelle's Master Degree comes from Brenau University (1999). 

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Emily Shuster, MS OTR/L

Emily obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina in 2003. Following graduation, she worked for a number of years in corporate staffing and recruiting until her grandfather, a tennis champion, suffered a stroke. Inspired by her grandfather’s therapist who helped teach him the skills necessary to reclaim his independence, Emily returned to school and obtained her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University in 2011.  Emily's Master’s Thesis involved revising the kinesthesia subtest of the Sensory Integration Praxis Test to make it more engaging to children.


During her training and since graduation, Emily has provided clinical intervention including aquatic therapy, hand therapy, hippo-therapy, inpatient hospital rehabilitation, as well as home and school interventions. For the past three years, Emily has specialized in outpatient pediatrics. She has extensive experience working with Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delays, Cerebral Palsy, Sensory Processing Disorder, Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and motor delays. Emily strives for a family-centric approach to treatment in order to maximize results.