Pediatric occupational therapy addresses fine motor skills, visual perception, and cognition through purposeful everyday activities. The areas addressed include hand skills, sensory processing, self-feeding, self-care, social skills, and play/leisure skills.
Meet our awesome Occupational therapists who keep Early Bird Thriving!
Amanda Deel is a Full Time Occupational Therapist with Early Bird. She is originally from Michigan. She moved to Charlotte, NC in 2019 where she joined the Early Bird team. She received her Bachelors of Science from Michigan State University in 2017 and her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2019. Amanda is passionate about working with pediatrics and loves to be playful and fun during therapy. Amanda specializes in early intervention, sensory processing disorders, self-regulation difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and fine motor delays. She loves working with families in their home and community environments where she can support the child in their natural environment in order to have the most success in their daily life. In her spare time, Amanda loves to hike, camp, read, and play board games and cards with her friends and family.
Courtney received a BA in Psychology (2006) and Master’s in Occupational Therapy (2008) from East Carolina University. She’s one of rare locals, and is from Matthews. She has 9 years of experience as a pediatric Occupational therapist, and 8 years in clinic based practice. She has certifications in Early Intervention, Handwriting Without Tears®, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding™ (SOS). She has experience treating and especially enjoys working with children with Autism and other developmental delays, Down Syndrome, sensory processing disorders, feeding difficulties, motor planning difficulties, handwriting difficulties, fine motor and visual perceptual delays or difficulties. She has 2 young girls, and enjoys empowering parents and families to help their children thrive. She also enjoys music, and incorporates it into her sessions as often as she can.
Dana is from Buffalo, NY and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science from Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY in 2003. After volunteering with the Stony Brook University Medical Center Occupational Therapy Department and UCP Children’s Learning Center of Cheektowaga, NY, Dana fell in love with the field of occupational therapy. She graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in Long Island, NY with her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy in 2006. Following graduation, she worked as a school-based therapist with the New York City Department of Education until October 2012. Additionally, Dana has worked in sensory based clinics and performed home care visits for the New York City Early Intervention program. Dana has experience and training in Handwriting Without Tears, Therapeutic Listening, Astronaut Training, Interactive Metronome, the SOS Approach to Feeding, and is working towards completing her certification in the administration of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. Dana’s outlook on home-based therapy has changed since recently becoming a mother of two. She strives to fully understand the challenges her families face and collaboratively works to develop effective, sensible and fun ways to support her clients’ participation in their daily activities. Dana enjoys spending time with her husband, son and daughter, and relaxes with arts and crafts in her spare time.
Jennifer is originally from Baltimore MD. Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in OT from Towson University in 1996. She has lived in Waxhaw, NC for 18 years and worked for EBDS since 2009. She has a Level I certification in Hippotherapy. She has worked in pediatrics since 1998. She is married with two children, and spends most of her free time watching her children play softball and baseball. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and enjoys exploring nature. She loves being part of a team with families and helping parents become empowered to lead their children toward independence.
Jennifer grew up in Southern California. She graduated from St Mary’s College with a BS in Health Science (1993) and from Tufts University with an MS in Occupational Therapy. (1995). Jennifer has worked in a variety of settings In Seattle and Charlotte including school based, clinic based and in homes and daycares. Jennifer started working with Early Bird in 2012. She has certifications and trainings including pediatric neurodevelopmental treatment, therapeutic listening, level 2 hippotherapy treatment, Kinesiotaping, visual vestibular assessment and treatment, reflex integration to support education, advanced practical sense in sensory integration, executive functioning in children and adolescents, and strengths based approaches for autism and behavior.Working alongside children and their families to support development and help every child reach their full potential has been one of her greatest joys. Jennifer has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC,Seattle, Manchester,UK and has called Charlotte home since 2003. She loves spending free time with her husband of 24 years and three boys. She enjoys gardening, reading, hiking, and traveling. Her friends and family tease her about being a weather fanatic and know to call her for the most accurate and up to date forecasts for hurricanes, Nor’easters, and fire alerts.
Jessica Jennings is a full time Occupational Therapist with Early Bird who covers the Steele Creek and surrounding South Charlotte areas. She is a born and raised Florida girl who has lived in the Charlotte area since 2014. She graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Florida Gulf Coast University and in 2010 with a Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree from University of St Augustine for Health Sciences. Jessica has a passion for pediatrics with experience in hospital based, outpatient based, NICU and home health settings. Her certifications and areas of interest include Interactive Metronome, Astronaut Training, Therasuit Method, behavior and self-regulation strategies, sensory-behavioral feeding, sensory integration, visual and fine motor difficulties, handwriting, self-care and most of all improving play skills with children who have a wide range of developmental delays. Jessica also treats children ages birth to three through the Early Intervention program with the Children’s Developmental Services Agency of Mecklenburg County as well as working on her Master Coach training in coaching interaction styles and natural learning environment practices through The Family, Infant and Preschool Program. The most enjoyable part of her job is getting the opportunity to work within her community and not being bound to the four walls of a clinic. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys travelling with her family and friends, spending time outdoors with her 2 dogs and practicing yoga.
KAITLYN (GREENBERG) CARDONA
Kaitlyn received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a minor in Child & Family Development from UNC Charlotte and her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from Emory & Henry School of Health Sciences. She has years of experience working with children from birth to three in a wide variety of roles prior to becoming an Occupational Therapist. Kaitlyn specializes in working with infants with feeding difficulties with training in tethered oral tissues (TOTs) as well as helping them meet developmental milestones. In addition she loves working with children with other feeding difficulties such as picky eating. She also enjoys treating children who have neurological and genetic diagnoses such as Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Rett Syndrome. Kaitlyn lives in the Lake Norman area with her husband and their sweet Golden Doodle, Theo. They enjoy spending time on the lake as well as traveling to the mountains for skiing in the winter.
Keira Gathers, originally from Idaho, graduated with her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington in 2005. Her specialty areas of practice and certifications include early intervention, pediatric feeding, Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding, Therapeutic Listening, and certification to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT). She has experience treating children with developmental delays, feeding issues, sensory processing disorders, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and fine motor delays. Keira’s passion is living life to the fullest and working with clients to do the same. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, traveling, hiking, tennis, music, and spending time in the sun.
Mary-Kate grew up in Buffalo, NY and moved to Charlotte in October 2020. She received her Bachelors in Public Health from Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA in 2015 and Masters of Occupational Therapy from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY in 2018. In addition to growing up in a large family of ten, her interest in the field of pediatric OT sparked because her little sister has cerebral palsy. As one of her strongest advocates, she feels that she can relate to families who want their child to be as successful as possible, too! Prior to Early Bird, she was a school-based therapist for 2 years in Buffalo, and also has experience practicing within the outpatient setting in Nashville, TN. This is the best job in the world! She loves to build rapport with each unique child, in addition to, work with the family as a unit. In her spare time, she likes to go on walks with her dog, spend time with family/friends, take a boxing class, and travel.
Michelle graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis on child development. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is married with two young girls. Michelle has worked with various diagnoses and she is trained in Sensory Integration, Therapeutic Listening, Neuro-Developmental Techniques, Aquatics, Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, Interactive Metronome, SOS Approach to Feeding Difficulties, Handwriting without Tears, in addition to strengthening, fine motor and perceptual training.
Sarah graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne College with a Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2008. She has experience with adults and pediatric populations in a variety of settings including outpatient and inpatient hospital settings, mental health, home health, and NICU. Sarah has experience in sensory integration, Handwriting Without Tears, splinting, Wilbarger Therapressure Protocol, infant massage and other pediatric related courses and training. Sarah enjoys working with children in the home environment where she can include the entire family and caregiving team in making a positive impact on the child’s outcomes. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and their sweet chocolate lab, Porter. They spend most of their free time remodeling their beloved mid-century home. When they aren’t remodeling they enjoy camping, hiking, biking and traveling.
Tina graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1986 with a BS in Occupational Therapy. She went on to receive a Master’s in Child and Family Studies in 2011 from UNC Charlotte. She has specialized in pediatric Occupational Therapy for the past 32 years, but enjoys all areas of OT. Tina is originally from Coral Gables, Florida. She is the youngest of 10 siblings, who were all born in the span of 12 years, with no multiple births! She thinks OT is the best job in the world!