Occupational Therapy Team
Occupational Therapy Team
Melissa Idelson – M.A., OTR/L is CSC’s Director and leads our Occupational Therapy program. Melissa understands first-hand the learning struggles children may have. As a child she experienced difficulties learning to read and spell, and now she is guiding her own two children through the development and learning journey. Her unique perspective of having been the struggling child and now a concerned parent, gives her the understanding and compassion which compels her to help other children be successful in dealing with life’s challenges.
Melissa began her career as a pediatric Occupational Therapist in 1990. Originally from Perth, Western Australia, where she was first introduced to sensory integration in college, she moved to California in 1995 to complete graduate studies in Ayres Sensory Integration* (ASI) theory and practice at the University of Southern California.
Sarah Cairns – M.A., OTR/L graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Since the completion of her degree, she has devoted her skills to providing evidenced based therapy for the pediatric population. Prior to the Child Success Center, Sarah worked as a provider of school based therapy in Los Angeles. She had the opportunity to collaborate directly with teachers in the classroom, and provide classroom based and clinic based therapy for children.
Since 2006, Sarah has worked as part of the multidisciplinary collaborative team at Child Success Center. She is a trained and certified Sensory Integration (SI) therapist, earning her Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) certification through an intensive course provided by lead clinicians and researchers in the field of SI. She is also a certified provider of Therapeutic Listening, The Listening Program, and Interactive Metronome. She has experience treating children from toddlers to adolescents with a variety of disorders, including developmental delays, Autism Spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, and sensory processing disorder. She is experienced in the treatment of dysgraphia (handwriting difficulties), and in the provision of handwriting programs such as Handwriting Without Tears. She continues to further her knowledge by attending courses with the most recent and evidenced based information on child development and therapeutic programs to support the success of children with special needs.
Courtney Duckworth-Harris – M.A., OTR/L has been a member of the CSC team since November 2011, and has been practicing as a pediatric occupational therapist since 2009. After receiving her Bachelors of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development, she was accepted into the Masters of Arts program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. While at USC she traveled to Ghana in West Africa to complete a 2 week fieldwork at a boarding school for children with disabilities, which made a significant impact on her. Once she graduated from USC in 2009, Courtney worked at a non-public school that serves children with various disabilities. During this time she also practiced part-time at a private pediatric occupational therapy clinic, specializing in sensory integration. Throughout the years Courtney has taken a variety of continuing education courses to expand her knowledge and improve her practice, including DIR/Floortime, Interactive Metronome, Eye Sight to Insight: Visual and Vestibular Integration, and The Zones of Regulation. She also integrates programs such as Social Thinking and the ALERT program into her therapy. Practicing yoga is a meaningful part of her life and Courtney has found that the knowledge gained about the body and self-regulation has positively influenced her ability to provide a holistic/“whole-child” approach to her therapy.
Katie Vogel – M.A., OTR/L (Sensory Integration and SIPT Certified #3341) is a southern California native, born and raised in Santa Monica, CA. She received her Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy in 2008 from the University of Southern California and soon after began to practice as a pediatric occupational therapist in a private pediatric clinic setting. She is trained and certified in Sensory Integration, and has also received training in the Handwriting Without Tears: Pre K thru 5th grade program, as well as the use of assistive technology in the educational setting through the Assistive Technology Core Certificate Program (ATCCP). Katie currently works as a school and clinic occupational therapist in Los Angeles, CA, and enjoys spin and yoga classes in her free time.
Christine Nguyen – M.A., OTR/L has been an occupational therapist for almost ten years. She earned her Master and Clinical Doctorate Degrees at the University of Southern California in occupational therapy. Christine is a recurrent guest speaker at Stanbridge University, Irvine, for Grand Rounds cohorts and has extensive experience in Skilled Nursing Facilities. However, her true passion is working with babies and children. She has worked in several school districts, clinics, and home settings. Being part of the CSC family as a per diem occupational therapist for 3 years now has been the most rewarding and enjoyable setting for her.
Corbin Gaucher – M.A., OTR/L moved to Santa Monica, CA from South Carolina, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Exercises Science at the University of South Carolina, where she focused on child development and also gained experience working with special needs children. She received her Masters in Occupation Therapy at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has received specialty training in the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding, Therapeutic Listening, Astronaut Training, Bal-A-Vis-X, Handwriting Without Tears, Visual-Vestibular Integration, and Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). She has always had a strong passion for working with children and enjoys being a part of each child and their family’s journey as a pediatric occupational therapist.
Roxanne Chess – M.A., OTR/L has been working with people with disabilities, especially Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental disabilities, since 2003. Roxanne moved to Santa Monica after serving as Supervisor of the Occupational Therapy Department at the Atlas Foundation for Autism and as Director of Occupational Therapy at The McCarton Center for Developmental Pediatrics located in New York City. Roxanne has also worked in the public school system in New York City and here with the Los Angeles Unified School District. She provided home care treatment, and practiced in other sensory gym settings. Roxanne is a passionate OT who has a strong clinic-based approach, and is also passionate about hippotherapy (using horses as a therapy tool for physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional development). She currently works with Ride On in their Chatsworth location.
Roxanne believes in a strength-based approach. Roxanne recognizes the value of supporting families with parent training and encourages caregiver involvement. Her intervention strategies are based heavily in Ayer’s sensory integration while incorporating a wide range of modern sensory integrative techniques, motor development strategies, and behavioral theories. Roxanne believes in supporting her client’s self-efficacy, self-esteem, and social skills.
Taraneh Aminian – M.A., OTR/L holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and received her Masters of Science degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California (USC). She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in OT from USC. While at USC she traveled to Costa Rica for 2 weeks to volunteer at a school for children with disabilities of all ages. Taraneh’s passion has always been in pediatrics and she is specializing in Sensory Integration during her doctoral residency. She has been certified from USC’s Sensory Integration Continuing Education program and has received additional training in Therapeutic Listening. Taraneh believes very strongly in providing a “holistic-child” approach and supporting each of her families with their individualized needs.
Elizabeth Hayes – M.A., OTR/L “Lizzy” earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Seattle University and a Masters of Arts in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2010. During her undergraduate education, she worked as an early childhood educator at The Boys and Girls Club of Seattle, as well as working as a Therapy Rehab Aide in an outpatient pediatric Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapy clinic. While completing her Masters degree, Lizzy worked as a Behavior Analyst with young children and families in their home environment. Since obtaining her Masters, Lizzy has worked in a variety of settings, exclusively with the pediatric population and families. She has gained experience in private clinics, early intervention, school-based in Los Angeles and Washington DC, and rehabilitation settings. Her continuing education and training includes SIPT courses, Floortime, The Astronaut Training Program, Handwriting Without Tears, The Listening Program, The Get Permission Approach to Mealtime, The Rhythmic Movement Training/Reflex Integration, The Alert Program – How Your Engines Run, The Zones of Regulation, and most recently The Essentials of Sensory Integration and Praxis Assessment taught by Teresa May-Benson.