KidsAbility Team

Founder

Speech-Language Therapy Assistant

Jennifer Kristensen, BA. 

Jennifer founded KidsAbility in the 2012 after seeing a need for additional resources and specialised services for children with special needs in Grand Cayman. Over the years Jennifer has expanded the KidsAbility Team to include highly skilled professionals in the areas of speech-language therapy and occupational therapy. In order to ensure the clients of KidsAbility receive the best therapy possible Jennifer has facilitated the growth of the clinic in services, as well as in square footage and purchasing specialised equipment. Jennifer is passionate about ensuring her team helps connect children with the resources that will help them function and grow to the best of their ability, whilst providing families with support. 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 2009 with a 4 year Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English with a focus on child development and linguistics. After graduation she went on to complete 2 years of pre-masters courses in communication disorders from Longwood University. In 2012 Jennifer completed the required coursework to become a certified Handwriting specialist with Handwriting Without Tears®. From 2008 onwards Jennifer has worked and volunteered in the private and public schools in the Cayman Islands as an inclusive classroom support aide and speech-language therapy assistant working closely with educators, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists to help implement their recommendations in the classroom.

To further her training Jennifer has completed the following courses and workshops:

  • Handwriting Without Tears (HWT): Pre-Kindergarten Readiness and Writing
  • Handwriting Without Tears (HWT): Kindergarten to Grade 5 Handwriting
  • Handwriting Without Tears (HWT): Print Tool Assessment
  • Lindamood-Bell “Seeing Stars” reading and spelling program
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • American Sign Language 101
  • Practical Training in ABA for Parents and Caregivers with The Wellness Centre

Through out Jennifer’s career she has worked with a wide population of special needs students, including students with the following diagnoses: Autism, ADD/ADHD, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Developmental Coordination Disorder, varying language disorders and Down Syndrome. Jennifer has run numerous social skills groups and handwriting groups. She enjoys trying to match the goals of her clients with their special interests.

Occupational Therapist

Allison Miron, M.Sc. O.T., O.T.(c) and HPC registered.

Allison graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science (occupational therapy) in 2014. She continued at McGill University to complete her Masters in Applied Sciences in Occupational Therapy. During Allison’s paediatric clinical placement in Bogota, Colombia she worked with children who were victims of sexual and domestic abuse. Allison has direct therapy experience working with children who have learning disabilities, handwriting difficulties, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing difficulties, Cerebral Palsy, Genetic disorders and Developmental Coordination Disorder. Before moving to Grand Cayman, Allison was previously working as a paediatric occupational therapist in Alberta, Canada for an agency that provides services to families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other diagnosis’. She was supporting families with self-care skills, feeding skills, play and social skills, functional fine motor skills and sensory regulation skills. Allison’s passion is supporting families to allow children reach their full potential in all domains of life. Her interests include paediatric feeding, child development and sensory processing.

To further her training Allison has completed the following courses and workshops:

  • DIR Floortime course 101
  • Sensation and Connection by Kim Barthel
  • Primitive Reflexes: Screening, compensation techniques and treatment by Kimberly Wiggins OTR/L
  • Visual Perception and its Impact on Learning Strategies and Resources by Kimberly Wiggins OTR/L
  • iPad Apps for Occupational Therapy by Kimberly Wiggins OTR/L
  • Sensory Diets 101 by Gwen Wild OTR/L 
Feeding Therapy 
  • Sensory Oral Sequential (SOS) Approach to Feeding
  • Children with Gastroesophageal Reflux by Kay Toomey at the SPD University 
  • Food Scientist Adaptation of the SOS Approach to Feeding by Kay Toomey at the SPD University 
  • Helping Children Transition Off Supplemental Tube Feedings by Kay Toomey at the SPD University 
  • Feeding the 6-16 month old child by Kay Toomey at the SPD University 
  • Working with Children with Severe Developmental Impairments at the SPD University
  • Feeding Matters:Common Hurdles in the week and months after the NICU
  • Feeding Matters: What To Do When You Get Stuck by Marsha Dunn Klein
Aquatic Therapy 
  • Don’t Get Sunk, Just Use the Trunk: Innovative Aquatic Pediatric Strategies at the Aquatic Therapy University
  • Aquatic Therapy Rehab Institute: Swimming with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Webinars 
  • iPads and Autism
  • Concurrent Disorder: When drugs and mental illness occur together
  • Understanding and supporting the anxious child
  • Young people at risk for mental illness
  • Boys and Working with Boys’ Brains
  • Occupational Therapy in Autism: Emerging Pediatric Practice Considerations for Communication by Dr. Michele Hebert 
  • Environmental Toxins and Autism Spectrum Disorder by Pam Lein, PhD at Autism Research Institute 
  • Using Current Evidence to develop a Handwriting Intervention Program by Jill Zwicker Ph.D OT (c) and Ivonne Montgomery OT
  • Sensational Handwriting:Using music and movements to teach handwriting while improving sensory processing 
  • The Sensory Processing Scales: The Latest in Assessing Sensory Modulation

Speech-Language Therapist

Heather Mitchell, M.A., CCC-SLP, Reg. CASLPO, HPC Registered

Heather graduated from Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan) in 2004 with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology after having completed a Bachelor of Arts – Psychology from the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 2001. She also has a certificate in Social Services.

Heather is from Ontario, Canada where she previously worked at a children’s developmental and mental health agency providing services to families with children with significant development and behavioural challenges. Heather also operated her own private practice in the Windsor, Ontario area and she previously worked at a hospital in Naples, Florida. Most recently Heather worked in Chicago, Illinois for the Early Intervention Program.

Heather has extensive experience working with children and adolescents with Autism, Down Syndrome, Global Developmental delays, genetic conditions and syndromes, learning disabilities, ADHD, expressive and receptive language delays, articulation and phonological delays and disorders, feeding difficulties as well as children and adolescents with behavioural and mental health challenges and environmental needs.

Heather strongly believes in working closely with the child/adolescent’s family, teachers and caregivers to promote social and communication development as well as collaborating with other professionals to better facilitate the child/adolescent’s progress. She is committed to promoting and supporting the child/adolescent and their family to meet the individual’s absolute potential and is passionate about advocating for the needs of the individuals she works with.

Certifications Include:

  • Certified Hanen® Instructor It Takes Two to Talk ®
  • Certified Hanen® Instructor More Than Words ®
  • Certified Hanen® Instructor Learning Language and Loving It ®
  • PROMPT Trained:
    • “Introduction to PROMPT Technique”
    • “Bridging Technique to Intervention”
  • Introduction to DIR and DIR Floortime

Training and Workshops:

  • Hanen ® Seminars:
    • “Telegraphic Speech – Should We or Shouldn’t We?”
    • “Coaching Parents in How to Play”
    • “Teaching Tuning In – Practical Strategies to Promote Theory of Mind for Verbal Children on the Autism Spectrum”
    • “First Steps – A Diagnostic Intervention for Toddlers with Suspected Motor Speech Difficulties”
  • PECS Basic Training
  • Gender Differences in Language Development in the Preschool Years
  • Stuttering Intervention (Stuttering 101, Treating the Whole Disorder, Stuttering and the Family)
  • Play- Based Intervention

Speech-Language Therapist

Cynthia Rowe, M.A., Reg. CASLPO, HPC Registered

Cynthia received her Masters of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology at State University of New York in Buffalo in 2003, after having completed a Bachelors of Arts – Linguistics and Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 1998. Cynthia has over fourteen years of experience providing speech and language intervention in a variety of settings.

Cynthia has provided assessment and treatment for pre-school children and school-aged children with articulation disorders, phonological disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, expressive and receptive language disorders, literacy, fluency and voice disorders. Cynthia is certified in Hanen “More Than Words”, a language program for parents with young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Cynthia has experience providing developmental assessments, as part of an interdisciplinary team, for preschool children. Many of these children present with significant neurodevelopmental (for example, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Intellectual Disability, etc.) and/or significant social communication and self-regulation challenges.

Cynthia has a special interest in stuttering and is certified in Lidcombe fluency program, which is a highly effective therapy technique for children who stutter. In April  2012, Cynthia was asked to speak at the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Fluency Conference and present on the topic of Best Practices in the Management of Fluency Disorders in the School Health Sector.

Cynthia prioritizes the importance of collaboration with parents when formulating treatment goals and tracking client progress. Her focus in therapy is maximizing her clients’ gains and transferring these gains to their real life environments.

Duke

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Duke was born on March 1, 2017.  He is a Vizsla puppy working hard to go through his basic training so that he can ultimately be a therapy dog. He wants to work with kids who could benefit from working with him to gain functional skills like self-care skills, fine motor, gross motor, social skills and many more.
Since he is still a puppy he is slowly starting the process of becoming a therapy dog. He is going to complete the St. John Ambulance program when he has learnt all the skills he needs at around 12-18 months old. Once he has completed that program he plans to complete an intensive 2 month program with
a private trainer who will teach him the specific skills he needs to work with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Quebec, Canada.

How might Duke participate in therapy?

  • Child can interact with the dog as a reward for completing designated work.
  • Child can pet or snuggle with the dog to get into the just-right regulation zone for learning
  • Child can use different sized tongs to feed Duke a treat (Supporting development of finger strength, coordination and grasp)
  • Child can learn commands (enhance communication, play and social skills)
  • Child can practice brushing Duke’s fur and then their own hair (encourage self-care skills and upper extremity strengthening)
  • Child can follow a sequence to get him ready (improve sequencing and memory)
  • Allow families to interact with a dog to determine whether their child would benefit from having a dog in the home

To learn more about Duke’s training journey to be a therapy dog you can follow him on Instagram @Duketheislandvizsladog

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