Child and Family Development celebrates 2 years with Jessica DeLing, Educational Specialist

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by Susie Crain

Jessica DeLing marks 2 years this month! She is an Educational Specialist at the Midtown office of Child and Family Development.

Jessica spent some of the summer renovating her home. This is a good thing since she is convincing her New York relatives to move to the South, one household at a time. Of course, they all find places of their own!  

Around here, Jessica is always coming up with fresh ideas to help kids and thrives in our multi-disciplinary setting.

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

Child and Family Development celebrates 26 years with Amy Sturkey, Physical Therapist

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 by Susie Crain

Amy Sturkey marks 26 years this month! She is a Physical Therapist at the Midtown office of Child and Family Development.

This lady does a lot, all the time.  In fact, she says she has more energy than most people.  We’ve noticed!

Here’s a surprise:  Amy has been sculpting for 20 years. 

Amy starts and ends each day by talking on the phone to her long distance boyfriend; that is, when they are not jetting around the globe together.

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

Child and Family Development celebrates 6 years with Kelly Cassell, Client Services Lead

Monday, August 25, 2014 by Susie Crain

Kelly Cassell marks 6 years this month! She is the Client Services Lead at Child and Family Development.

Her Great Dane, Goliath, makes her happy each day.  He is taller and weighs more than her but still acts like a big baby and sits on her lap. 

Kelly’s role at work has evolved over the years and she now enjoys helping and training others and demonstrating and appreciating what C&FD stands for.

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

Child and Family Development celebrates 2 years with Stephanie Gerlich, Speech Therapist

Friday, August 15, 2014 by Susie Crain

Stephanie Gerlich marks 2 years this month! She is a Speech Therapist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development.

She has a lot of interesting hobbies, from photography to aerial silks and yoga.  She also loves spending time with her brand new fiancé Robert and her dog Chelsey. 

Stephanie says her work and helping others makes her happy.  We would agree!

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

Piecing Together the Balance Puzzle

Friday, August 8, 2014 by Lisa Gigliotti

As pediatric physical therapists, we are always working on balance.  Being able to balance and stay on your feet are essential skills for everyday life, but what factors make up all of the pieces of the balance puzzle?  And how can we work as parents and therapists to improve the balance of our children (and even ourselves?)

The concept of balance is usually broken into 2 separate parts: static balance and dynamic balance.

Static balance means being able to hold a stationary position with control.  This includes sitting still, standing still, and standing on one foot.

Dynamic balance means being able to keep your balance while moving, such as while walking across a balance beam or riding on a scooter or bike.

Having good balance requires coordination from 3 different body systems, including the vestibular system, the somatosensory system, and the visual system.  If these three systems aren’t all working together, it will affect our balance.

The vestibular system includes the organs in the inner ear.  It is able to sense the direction and the speed at which your head moves (and usually where your head goes, your body follows.)

The somatosensory system is made up of tons of little sensors that are all over your body and especially on your hands and feet.  They tell our body about where we are in space.  This concept is called proprioception.  Proprioception allows us to know whether we are sitting, lying down, or standing even while our eyes are closed and to do things like walk up the stairs without looking at them.

The visual system uses our eyes to tell us where we are.  Our eyes give our brain information about our movement, our relationship to the environment, and how stable surfaces are in front of us.

Another factor of balance is the alignment of our bones and muscles.  If we have muscle imbalances, where some muscles are strong and some are weak, it can throw off our alignment and have an effect on our balance.

Therapists can work on all of these different systems to help improve balance.  That is why, often during evaluations, we ask your child to stand on one foot with their eyes open and their eyes closed- it can tell us whether or not they may be relying too much on one system for their balance.

As therapists, we work on things like:

  • Providing vestibular input to regulate the vestibular system with activities like swinging or spinning
  • Stretching and strengthening  the muscles for proper alignment
  • Coordinating movement with visual activities to help our eyes and our muscles communicate better
  • Incorporating sensory input to help our proprioceptors tell us exactly where we are in space

All of these things can help us piece together the balance puzzle.

If you have concerns about your child’s balance, contact Child and Family Development for a physical therapy evaluation.

Child and Family Development welcomes pediatric speech therapist, Allison Parker

Friday, August 1, 2014 by Susie Crain

Allison Parker, MA, CCC-SLP joined the team this week!  She is a North Carolina licensed and ASHA certified speech language pathologist. She received her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in communication disorders from Appalachian State University. She has worked in pediatric outpatient clinics, public schools and a private practice.  Allison strives to work with families to meet the child's needs across all environments, making therapy functional and progress attainable. She is based at the Midtown office.

Welcome Allison!


Child and Family Development celebrates 1 year with Marie Pacini, Educational Specialist

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 by Susie Crain

Marie Pacini marks 1 year this month! She is an Educational Specialist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development.

Recently, we learned that Marie was a competitive figure skater for 15 years and loves synchronized performances.  Makes sense- she works very well with the other therapists here.

She is getting married next year, but shares that she still likes alone time with her dog.

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

having a (Exercise) Ball in pediatric physical therapy at Child and Family Development

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 by Lisa Gigliotti

As pediatric therapists, lots of times we have about 100 reasons for doing an activity that may seem very simple.  One of the best examples of this is using an exercise ball, also called a Swiss ball, therapy ball, or stability ball.

One of the reasons I use sitting on a ball in therapy is because it helps me look at sustained postural strength.  A few months ago, I measured how long one of my clients could sit on the ball before slouching, grabbing onto the table, or bouncing off the ball.  When I measured this time around, I found that he had more than doubled the amount of time he could sit properly on the ball!  This tells me that he is developing those small postural muscles- not only are they getting stronger, but they are building endurance too.  Hopefully that will make it a little bit easier for him to sit still during school.

Here are some other benefits of sitting on an exercise ball:

  • It strengthens your abdominal, back, and leg muscles.
  • It encourages proper spinal and postural alignment because it is the easiest to balance when your spine is properly aligned.  Therefore it makes it hard to slouch and can help improve posture.
  • It forces you to frequently change positions with small weight shifts when you need to reach for something or turn to look at something.  Sitting in the same spot can make you tired and sluggish, so this can help to improve energy and focus.
  • In situations where kids need to sit for a long time, such as in school or while doing homework, fidgety kids are able to “get the wiggles out” without getting up from their chair.
  • Kids that seek a lot of sensory input may like the deep pressure the ball provides against the skin.
  • For kids, sitting on a ball is more fun than sitting in a chair!

Another major benefit: studies have found that in kids with ADHD, sitting on an exercise ball instead of in a chair at school can help to improve behavior and legible word productivity.  The study reasoned that it was because the kids were able to burn off a little extra energy doing some subtle bouncing on the ball.

The proper sized ball for your child is one that they are able to sit on with their feet flat on the floor with their knees bent at about 90 degrees, with thighs parallel to the floor.  If you are thinking about getting one for home, ask your therapist which size would be the best for your child.  We have lots of different sizes that we can test out here at Child and Family Development.

Try it at home during homework or TV time.  It’s a great way to get in some extra therapy!

Aleksandra Liss, Psy.D. joins the Child and Family Development team

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by Susie Crain

Aleksandra Liss, Psy.D. is a licensed psychological associate who joined the Midtown time this month.   Dr. Liss received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and her doctorate from the American School of Professional Psychology in Washington, DC. Currently, she is completing post-doctoral supervision with Dr. Gretchen Hunter.  Dr. Liss specializes in the treatment and assessment of children and adolescents.   She provides evaluation services as well as therapy to individuals, families and groups, including children and adolescents.  Dr. Liss has specialized training in the treatment of anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, ADHD, social difficulties and relationship problems.  She also enjoys working with families on communication, parenting issues, and behavior management.  

Welcome Aleks!


Child and Family Development celebrates 5 years with Leslie Holmes, DPT

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 by Susie Crain

Leslie Holmes marks 5 years this month! She is a Physical Therapist at the Midtown office of Child and Family Development.

We agree with Leslie that one of her best personality traits is her dedication to others.  She says she strives to be a loyal friend and is looking forward to being a devoted wife in just a few months. She is a happy person who loves to make others smile, sometimes busting into a jig to make someone laugh.

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

Mo Froneberger, Educational Specialist, celebrates 8 years at Child and Family Development

Monday, July 7, 2014 by Susie Crain

Mary ‘Mo’ Froneberger marks 8 years this month! She is an Educational Specialist at the Pineville office of Child and Family Development.

Mo shares that she keeps a positive perspective on life by spending time with God every morning.  

Happy C&FD Anniversary!

Enjoying fireworks with auditory defensiveness

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 by Melissa Petcu

Happy Independence Day ya’ll!

I know that July 4th can often be a great time to celebrate with friends and family. When I think about this holiday I am flooded with thoughts and memories of watermelon, corn on the cob, pool games, cook outs, flags, and fireworks.

If you have a child with auditory sensitivity, they may have difficulty with watching the fireworks. As you may know, children with auditory sensitivity often have a fight or flight response to a noise that is too over stimulating for him or her. One of the best ways to help your child love this holiday without a melt down is to start by preparing him for the fireworks now. Show him videos of fireworks on youtube. Color pictures of fireworks and talk about how they say “BOOM”. Preparing your child for the multisensory experience of fireworks can really help her enjoy the experience. Discuss a plan with your child to help decrease the loud noise. This could be to bring sound reducing head phones to put over her ears. Maybe even practice wearing them before going to watch the fireworks.

Also, snuggling up with a weighted blanket and enjoying some crunchy food to munch on (or even chewing bubble gum) while watching the fireworks might help decrease fight or flight response to the loud noise.

If possible, it is probably a good idea to be as far away from the fireworks as possible to reduce the intensity of the sound. So, maybe you could watch the fireworks from Independence Park in Charlotte or find a spot on Hawthorne Lane instead of sitting in Memorial Stadium. Another idea could be to watch the fireworks from inside a building such as a near by restaurant.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014 by Melissa Petcu

Have you ever been to an exercise class or popped an exercise DVD in at home and heard the instructor talk about how important it is to warm- up before your work out? You probably heard something along the lines of heart rate, blood pressure, reducing injury to muscles….

Well, as a pediatric occupational therapist, I have found that doing a little warm-up prior to fine motor activities is just as beneficial (admittedly not as crucial) as warming up before exercise. I have a game that I play with children that works on stereognosis- holding an object in your hand and using your fingers to figure out what is in your hand without looking. It helps your brain and your fingers talk to one another without getting your eyes involved. So, when that top button on your shirt needs to be completed and you can’t quite see, it is important for your fingers to be able to know if they are pushing or pulling; touching something cloth, or smooth. You could try this game at home with simple house hold items such as a chip clip, paper clip, spoon, apple, ice cube, cotton ball, marker- anything that could easily fit into your child’s hand. Let the child see 3 or 4 of the items and have them close their eyes.  With eyes closed, place one of the objects into his or her hand and have her feel the edges and report how the object feels when determining what he or she is holding.

Another great warm-up prior to fine motor activities could be playing with play dough or putty. It helps to “wake up” those fingers and get them ready for small precise movements. The proprioceptive input that is provided during this play helps to tell your brain where the fingers are and how they are moving. Scooping sand, dried beans, or water can provide this same input.

Weight bearing on your hands during activities such as animal walks helps to prepare and “wake up” the core, arm, and hand muscles for upcoming fine motor work. Finger play such as the “Itsy bitsy spider” is another great option to warm-up those fingers before practicing fine motor activities.

What warm-up activities have you found to best help your child succeed with fine motor tasks?

Don't TakeOur Word For It!

Sunday, June 15, 2014 by Pam Jones

People are talking about Child and Family Development in Charlotte! We offer a wide variety of services for children including support in reaching developmental milestones!

"I love this group of people! They've helped many of my family members and it is a pleasure working with the therapists at Child and Family Development."

"What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades" NYT article review

Friday, June 13, 2014 by C&FD OT Team

There was an interesting article by Maria Konnikova in the New York Times this month about handwriting and its significance in child development.  Here is the link:

It references several research studies and experts, asserting that what we write may be as important as how we write in both print and cursive.  Handwriting has an impact on cognition like development of neural pathways and activating brain networks and resources.  This translates into learning to read, having self control and reduction of symptoms of dysgraphia and dyslexia. 

Our Education and Occupational Therapy teams at Child and Family Development can assess and help children with handwriting difficulties, including specialized Handwriting Without Tears® and Educational Intensive services.  


Don't Take Our Word For It!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 by Pam Jones

Families really like our multidisciplinary approach to helping children.  One Charlotte parent shares:

"I love being able to get so many services at one office. I appreciate that the therapists communicate and integrate treatment plans when possible. Everyone – therapists and office staff – shows great patience and knowledge when answering my many questions. Physical Therapy (PT) based Karate is awesome."

Notes? Take what?

Friday, June 6, 2014 by Mary Froneberger

Note-taking can be a daunting task, especially for a student with ADHD and/or a learning disablity.

Susan Kruger, M.Ed. is the author of SOAR Study Skills. She recently published an article in ADDitudeMag with great information about students can be better note-takers. Here are some of her recommendations:

1. Date your notes

2. When your teacher says, "This will be on your test."- make sure you right it down.

3. Fold your paper from the left about a third of the way. Use this space to write down summary questions to ask yourself for studying. 

4. Don't write on the back of your notebook paper and instead keep it blank in case you need to add information later. 

5. During class if you don't hear or get something that your teacher says, leave a blank sheet of paper to remind you to get the information later.

6. Paraphrase and abbreviate your notes as much as possible so that you can keep them short; however, use as much as you  need to keep the notes clear and legible in order to read them later. 

7. When studying your notes, read them aloud. Write or draw any visuals such as maps and review them within one day of taking them. 


Yoga Moves: yoga-based physical therapy for Charlotte kids

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 by C&FD PT Team

Yoga Moves  is a class taught by physical therapists that incorporates some of the basic principles of yoga. The movements and positions are adapted to each child’s capabilities and skill level. 

Yoga is a meditative practice that includes physical and mental elements.  It can build strength, coordination, and endurance.  It also teaches how to breathe along with movement, which can facilitate relaxation and concentration.  All of these things can help to optimize function in daily life, both mentally and physically.

This service is not based on or related to any culture or religion. 


Yoga Moves is designed to take the basic principles of yoga along with traditional physical therapy with the goal of improving motor skills and body strength.  It is to be considered an adjunct to regular physical therapy intervention.

Individual health and wellness goals may vary, but every person can have improvements in:

  • Body awareness
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Breath Control
  • Endurance and cardiovascular fitness
  • A positive attitude toward exercise

The class will also stimulate imagination and creativity.  It will facilitate positive social skills, such as modeling others, in order to build self esteem and confidence.

Home carryover ideas and suggestions will be provided to each family.  Each child’s yoga program can be individualized to reflect their specific mental or physical goals.


Appointments are available according to your family’s schedule.  Up to 4 children can be grouped per instructor, based on skill level and independence.    We recommend regular participation over at least a 4-6 week period. 


Each session lasts for one hour.  Group services are $50/ session.       


If you are wondering how yoga could benefit your child, or have any other questions, feel free to contact us by phone or email.


Lisa Gigliotti, DPT                                                                      Leslie Holmes, DPT

704-541-9080 ext. 211                                                                704-332-4834 ext. 113                                       

Social Butterflies Club™- spots open for Charlotte area groups this summer

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 by C&FD Team

Social Butterflies Club™ was founded in 2004 by Rhonda Osisek M.S., CCC-SLP in Virginia.  It is widely used across the country. Visit for more details. 


The Club helps kids learn how to interact with peers while having fun with sensory and speech activities combined.   The kids in the group have a variety of diagnoses, such as expressive and/or receptive language problems, sensory processing difficulties, and fine motor deficits.  The goal is to teach the kids how to communicate with peers in a positive way.


Each child is screened before being placed into a group. The groups are formed based on each child’s communication skills, social ability and age.  Sessions are co-led by 1 Speech Therapist and 1 Occupational Therapist at the Pineville/ South Charlotte office.

The Club meets for four 1-hour sessions, Monday-Thursday. Two groups are offered this summer. Kids can enroll and benefit from consecutive groups. 

UNDER THE SEA:  June 23-26

BACK TO SCHOOL: August 18-21


The cost is $200.00.  Payment is due at the time of registration. 


Michelle Pentz


Summertime Education Intensives

Monday, June 2, 2014 by C&FD Educational Specialists

Make time for some learning this summer!

Our Educational Specialists are offering Intensive Programs based on specific subject areas. Intensives can focus on one subject area or a combination.  Kids can benefit from just one program or a series of programs over time. 

Subject Areas

•Reading & Spelling: We use the Orton-Gillingham approach in teaching the structure of the English language.  Students will engage in tasks to stimulate and strengthen the underlying processing areas of phonological processing in order to improve their reading and spelling abilities.

•Oral/Reading Comprehension & Verbal/written Expression: We teach the visualization process in response to language; that is, students learn to generate images in response to the words they read and hear.  We improve high-order thinking (executive function) so kids can share main ideas, infer, predict and summarize written and verbal information, as well as generate thorough and accurate summaries.

•Math Foundations: We help kids who struggle with math, starting with the development of math concepts and strategy building skills.  Content includes Number Sense, Patterns/Relationships (Algebra), Addition and Subtraction. 

•Math Support: We emphasize the five mathematical proficiency strands: Understanding, Computing, Applying, Reasoning and Engaging.  Instruction can include Common Core state standards.  The goal is to ensure students are ready for the next grade level skills. 


1-hour appointments are available, according to your family’s schedule.  We recommend 3-6 sessions per week, with up to 2 sessions per day. Students can benefit from intensive programs over a 4-12 week period. 


The total cost of Intensive Programs will vary based on the number of sessions.  Based on the Educational Services Agreement, each session is offered at a reduced rate of $65.00.  Weekly fees are due at the beginning of each week.  Sessions cannot be rescheduled and money will not be refunded for missed time.


Jessica DeLing, M.Ed., Educational Specialist              ext.123

Mo Froneberger, MAT, Educational Specialist         ext. 219

Marie Pacini, MAT, NBCT, Educational Specialist          ext. 218





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