Michele Parkins MS, OTR
Michele Parkins is an occupational therapist, specializing in working with children with autism and sensory processing disorder.
Michele is a fellow of Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, OTR and faculty of Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation. She educates therapists from all over the country on treatment for sensory processing disorder following the STAR model. She is also SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Test) certified.
She has been using and learning the DIR model for over ten years in her work at Celebrate the Children school. She is DIR certified and is faculty of Profectum Foundation where she educates therapists all over the world on social-emotional development and the DIR model.
Michele Parkins has advanced training in visual spatial capacities working closely with Serena Wieder, PhD, author of Visual Spatial Portals to Movement, Learning and receiving extensive visual spatial training working with developmental optometrists.
She co-developed a unique handwriting program – Connect Experience Write® – that highlights the importance of affective engagement in learning as well as sensory integration using music and movement to teach letter formation and pre-writing skills.
Michele Parkins is passionate about working with families and other therapists and she continues to do so as a clinician and educator. She also continues to provide consultation to schools as she has done for over 10 years.
Elizabeth Rice is an occupational therapist at Great Kids Place. She is a graduate of Kean University where she earned a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and graduated with honors. Liz obtained her Bachelor of Music from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford where she majored in vocal performance and has a strong background in theater and opera. Her time spent as a performer contributes to the creativity in her practice and therapeutic use of self.
As an occupational therapy student, Liz worked with pediatric, adult rehabilitation, and psychosocial populations. She had the opportunity to work with the acclaimed Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in Saddle Brook in the orthopedic and brain injury departments. Liz worked at JDT Medical Rehabilitation Center during an intense internship where she treated patients recovering from various orthopedic injuries or stroke. She worked as an intern and continues to work today in the Mount Olive, NJ school system as an OT. She has experience working with students with developmental delays, physical disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder. Prior to occupational therapy school, Liz worked as a special education teacher’s assistant in the Demonstration Program at the Ben Samuels Children’s Center in Montclair. This is a DIR/Floortime based inclusion preschool where she worked with children on the Autism Spectrum.
Liz met Michele when her research group from Kean University helped conduct the pilot study for Connect Experience Write® (CEW), which Michele co-developed. The Kean research group sought to discover the efficacy of CEW, a handwriting program involving music and movement, with children who are non-writers. The research suggested that CEW program improved the participants’ handwriting ability. Liz’s research group presented their data via poster presentation at the state and national levels for the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association (NJOTA) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
Liz is eager and excited to implement her knowledge and creativity in her occupational therapy practice at Great Kids Place.
Laura Baldwin is the Director of a Developmental Summer Program, Limitless, and the Paraprofessional Coordinator at Celebrate the Children, a school for children and young adults with autism and similar challenges, in Denville, New Jersey.
For over 10 years, Laura has been providing services to individuals with social, emotional, and developmental weaknesses in both school and private settings. Her advanced knowledge in the areas of child development, visual-spatial capacities, MNRI®, developmental and behavioral assessments, social skills, DIR ® Floortime, and Crisis Prevention Intervention has provided her with many opportunities to work alongside leading professionals to train and coach educators, families, first responders, and medical personnel in developmental methodologies, positive behavioral support, and individual differences.
One of Laura’s most recent notable achievements was joining the Profectum team to assist in the creation of the Profectum Parent Toolbox, a free resource that encourages and supports parents in building their own toolbox of strategies, ideas, and hands- on techniques to help foster interactions with their child.
Laura holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and is currently enrolled in a graduate program, pursuing a Dual Master’s Degree in Clinical and School Counseling, as well as a certification in Play Therapy. She is excited about joining Great Kids Place and looks forward to implementing programs that support children in reaching their full potential.
Erica Pizza is a certified children’s yoga instructor. She specializes in using stories to motivate kids to move through fun poses and engage in mindful play. She trained with Jaime Armor of Cosmic Kids Yoga and is grateful to share her practice with Great Kids Place. In addition to wagging her tail in Downward Facing Dog on the mat with children, Erica teaches SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Yoga in the summers on Indian Lake. When she’s not practicing yoga, Erica is making artwork, teaching ceramics and painting to her high school students, or painting murals on the Great Kids Place walls!