Feeding Therapy

Feeding therapy is provided by occupational therapists or assistants (OT/OTAs) or speech therapists or assistants (SLP/SLPAs) that have obtained additional training in the specialty of feeding therapy.

They use carefully chosen interventions to improve oral motor skills to reduce concerns like gagging, choking, or aspiration and improve the ability to chew and swallow. They also provide interventions that address concerns such as only eating a very limited number or type of food.

How can feeding therapy help?

Feeding therapy can help a person improve the numbers of foods they will eat and chew and swallow more safely.

FEEDING THERAPY TEAM

TORI BARNES
TORI BARNES Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, (COTA/L)

Education:

  • B.S Kinesiology, California State University Fullerton, May 2017
  • A.S. Occupational Therapy Assistant, PIMA Medical Institute, May 2021
  • SOS Feeding Course, 2021
  • Teaching utilizing Handwriting Without Tears 

Career History:

I began working at L.I.F.E. in 2019 as a Registered Behavior Technician. Then in my clinical rotations, pushed into the community providing respite services through L.I.F.E. My first clinical rotation was with Foundations Developmental House servicing the American Leadership Academy, 4 days and in their clinic one day a week. My second clinical rotation was completed at South Mountain Post Acute, focusing on wheelchair and bed transfers and Activities of Daily Living. Following passing my board exam, I reached out to L.I.F.E. eager to come back. My next adventure is to develop my skills in feeding therapy and earn a certificate in the SOS Feeding Approach in October 2021.

Personal Treatment Philosophy:

I like to meet the child where they are realizing each day is different. Working with children is my true joy and life path. I love being able to help play a nurturing role and also playful role to achieve goals functionally for the client and family. Working with children here at L.I.F.E. fills my days with joy because of the silliness and playfulness filled into each session. I also enjoy working with other discipline team members such as teachers, behavior staff, and other therapists for collaboration to ensure each child is getting their needs met. 

Personal: 

I was born and raised in Southern California, a natural water lover come, desert lover, I recently moved to Arizona in June 2019. I love hiking, paddle boarding the Salt River, and exploring the great red rocks of Sedona. I love being closer to Utah, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Parks, the National Parks of America. Growing up going to Glamis and Havasu, being in Arizona reminds me of those “sweet summer days.” 

KIM BETANCOURT
KIM BETANCOURTOccupational Therapist, (OTR/L)

Education:

  • Master of Science, Occupational Therapy, 2009
  • Bachelor of Science, Health Science, 2006
  • Associate of Science, Early Childhood Education, 2000

Continuing Education and Certifications:

  • How Does Your Engine Run? 2012
  • The Listening Program Provider Certification Course, 2015
  • Water-Based Interventions for The Pediatric Client, 2016
  • An Introduction to Assistive Technology for the Pediatric Population, 2017
  • Out-of-Sync Child: Sensory Challenges and Sensible Solutions, 2017
  • Sensory-Motor Based Feeding Approach, 2018

Career History:

I started working at L.I.F.E. in August of 2013. I provided direct occupational therapy (O.T.)  services until October of 2018, when I became the Transition Program Facilitator.  In September of 2021, I rejoined the therapy team full-time to continue my passion in O.T.   I started my career working with the geriatric population at a skilled nursing facility, however I knew my passion was working with pediatrics/adolescents.   I switched gears and went on to work as a school district Occupational Therapist for three years prior to joining the L.I.F.E. family.

Personal:

I am a NY transplant. I moved out west in 2009. I am a wife and a mother to a multi-talented young man. My son is a competitive street styles dancer and an aspiring music producer. I am a lover of nature. On the weekends you can find me either off roading in my Jeep, hiking, camping or paddle boarding in the beautiful state of Arizona. I am a wanderlust; I will catch a flight or board a ship any chance I get.

CASSANDRA (CASSIE) LEGGER
CASSANDRA (CASSIE) LEGGERSpeech-Language Pathologist (M.S., CCC-SLP)

Education:

  • M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology, Northern Arizona University, with Distinction, 2016
  • B.S. in Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, Summa Cum Laude, 2013
  • A.A. in General Studies, Mesa Community College, with Highest Distinction, 2010

Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise Utilized:

I received training on the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) feeding approach by Kay Toomey and Associates as well as received hands on experience with feeding therapy at an outpatient children’s hospital setting. I use various speech/language tools such as shared storybook reading, Expanding Expressions Tool (EET), articulation therapy, Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC), and Social Thinking. 

Career History:

I began working at L.I.F.E. in January 2019. I previously worked in home health, outpatient, and school settings. I have enjoyed working with children in all settings. 

Personal Treatment Philosophy:

I believe it is important to create a fun therapy environment that is welcoming and follows the lead of the child.

Personal:  

I currently live with my husband and adorable, fluffy, beautiful cat named Mr. Turdington. I enjoy watching and discussing movies, baking, cooking, traveling, and creating artwork in various forms such as ceramics and sewing. I am one of five kids and I love to spend time with my family.

KATRENA (KATIE) PRICE
KATRENA (KATIE) PRICEOccupational Therapist, (MS, OTR/L)

Education:

  • S. in Occupational Therapy, AT Still University, 2014
  • A. in Psychology, B.S. in Family & Human Development, Arizona State Univ., 2006.
  • Public Ally- Americorps term of service; trainings in leadership, non-profit management and volunteer recruitment and organization, 2010-2011

Career History:

I began working at L.I.F.E. in March 2014, after completing one of my graduate level internships at L.I.F.E. in spring of 2013. Prior to working as an occupational therapist (OT), I had the pleasure of doing habilitation and respite work for several years during college, which is how I discovered occupational therapy in the first place! During a year of service through Americorps in 2010 through 2011, I also had the opportunity to work with low-income youth through another local non-profit called UMOM New Day Centers doing program management for youth and families, which included creating and running a toddler program.

Continuing Education and Certifications:

Since becoming a licensed OT in 2014, I have taken several continuing education courses to expand my “tool box” and increase my ability to use a wide variety of treatment strategies. These trainings/courses have included:

  • The Listening Program (2015)
  • Intro to Assistive Tech for Pediatrics (2017)
  • Aquatic Therapy (2017)
  • The Out of Sync Child (2017)
  • Primitive Reflexes and Integration (2018)
  • Trauma-Informed Intervention (2018)
  • Sensory-Motor Based Feeding Approach (2018)
  • SOS Approach to Feeding Therapy Intro Course (2019)
  • DIR Floortime (2020)
  • Learn, Play, Thrive Approach to Autism (2020)
  • Neurological Approaches to Self-Regulation and Sensory Processing (2021)

Personal Treatment Philosophy:

My personal treatment philosophy is always evolving and changing, as I believe it should. When we learn better, we do better! I do strongly believe that our best therapeutic tool is ourselves; our relationship with each child and family is key. Through strong, safe, supportive, and loving relationships is where growth and development flourish. I am also a very big proponent and advocate for treating from the perspective of Neurodiversity and strength-based interventions.

Personal: 

I am happily married to a fellow L.I.F.E. therapist (Zach). We have a daughter, Melody, and a few furry family members at home- a pug and 2 guinea pigs. I love to spend time with my family, read, watch movies, and cook!

MILDRED (MILLY) PANGILINAN-FLORES
MILDRED (MILLY) PANGILINAN-FLORESOccupational Therapist, (OTR/L)

Education and Special Certifications

  • M.A. in Occupational Therapy from California State University, 2002.
  • SIPT (Sensory Integration & Praxis Test) certified, 2003.

Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise Utilized:

  • I have always been interested in sensory integration and in treating sensory processing deficits. Most of the training and courses I have taken over the years was to expand my knowledge base in this area. I have received mentorship on sensory integration from Lorna Jean King who collaborated with Jean Ayres on sensory integration. I have taken several courses on sensory integration, on sensory-motor including Neurodevelopmental Treatment from Lois Bly, sensory modulation and self-regulation including How Does your Engine Run, Diana Henry’s Tool Chest, Carol Kranowitz’s Out of Sync Child, The Listening Program, Zones of Regulation, Julia Harper’s RISE (Reflex Integration to Support Education) and How to be a Sensory Chef, and other courses on the Wilbarger Brushing, sensory diets, and other sensory-based courses. From there, I naturally progressed to taking courses on feeding as eating is highly sensory in nature. I recently received training on the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Feeding Approach by Kay Toomey and Associates. I have also taken courses on feeding and oral-motor assessment and treatment through Lori Overland’s Sensory-motor Approach to Feeding, Debra Beckman’s Oral- motor Treatment, and Jessica Hunt’s Complex Feeding Issues. Currently, I am focused on increasing my feeding skills and will be taking more feeding courses in the future. Having worked and trained for many years, I have found that my best training instructors have been my clients. I have honed my skills and have become the occupational therapist that I am today because of them.

Career History:

  • I started at L.I.F.E. when it first opened in July of 2007 and was one of the 2 occupational therapists. From there, I worked my way up from a mentor to eventually a Clinical Director until 2018. I have treated, created programs, and managed therapists for L.I.F.E. since then. I recently returned to treating full-time in September of 2018 and enjoying every minute of it. My very first job as an occupational therapist was at a pediatric outpatient clinic at Simi Valley Hospital in California in 2002 where I did my pediatric rotation. When I moved to Arizona, I worked at a skilled nursing facility for a few months and at the Children’s Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies working in their private school and clinic for a year. Following that, I worked for Horizon Pediatric Therapy at their clinic and in clients’ homes until 2007. I also worked at a rehabilitation hospital in Mesa in their in-patient unit to work with adults and the elderly for a year on the weekends while working at L.I.F.E.

Personal Treatment Philosophy:

  • I see every child I treat as a child of God and deserves my utmost respect, compassion, love, and patience. I believe in gaining their trust and meeting each client at their level and pace and being part of the therapy process and environment, which we call the ‘therapeutic use of self’. I also like to have fun as I am silly and playful in nature. But more importantly, I believe in having the parents and family members as my treatment partners especially when coming up with goals that are relevant, functional, and meaningful to them and their children.

Personal:

  • I have been happily married since 2005 to my husband who is my best friend. I spend my free time teaching the faith to typical and children with special needs at my church, volunteering for my church and the community, spending time with my husband, and living my Catholic faith to live a holy life.

Contact Us for More Information About L.I.F.E.

call us at 480-621-8361 EXT 136 or complete this form

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