Your Child’s Life and Family Life Are Our Priority
Occupational therapists (OT) view the whole child and all that is meaningful in the child’s life. In essence, the “occupations” of a child include many things, such as play or leisure and socialization, self-help or self-care activities, school/education tasks, and rest and sleep. Other occupations may include those that might support daily life such as activities in the community, age-appropriate household tasks, and communication. Depending on the age of the child, life activities vary. Also, OT’s consider the routines, habits, rituals and roles of the child and the family as well as the environment(s) that the child encounters. The child’s strengths and challenges are addressed individually based on all of the above including age, diagnosis, lifestyle, beliefs, culture, and priorities.
OT’s holistically consider many factors that may affect the child’s functioning such as body structure and function, motor skills, sensory processing, cognitive abilities, visual-spatial/perceptual capabilities, and psycho-social/behavioral issues.
At Embrace the Child®, not only the child’s “occupations,” but also “family occupations” are our priority.
Experience the Connection, Dedication and Continuity
Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You!
Stacy, a hometown girl, loved to play with children and was drawn to finding strengths in those of all abilities since she was a little girl. These qualities led her to the University of Pittsburgh where she began her path to becoming an OT. At Pitt she was honored as a University Scholar and acknowledged as “one of those who show high promise of significant contribution to society and progress.” In hopes of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist, her dreams were met when she acquired nationwide pediatric experience in a variety of settings with accomplished colleagues in Sensory Integration and Neuro-developmental Treatment. Within her 25+ years of practice, she studied for an advanced Master’s degree in OT at Texas Woman’s University where she completed her research on the Occupation-Based Interview and Assessment Tool, Family L.I.F.E. (Looking Into Family Experiences). Her research was published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in a special issue on autism with DeLana Honaker, PhD, OTR, FAOTA and Catherine Candler, PhD, OTR, BCP. In addition, her studies at TWU paved the way for the Embrace the Child®, Ltd. practice. Her doctoral studies at Misericordia University were formative for continuing to explore and define her passion, the breadth and depth of family, as a prominent trail-blazer for occupational therapists. In her practice, Stacy uses DIR®/FCD™ Model and her own Family-Centered Therapy Model™ and Sensory Integration across settings to richly improve quality of life for children and families.
As a lifelong learner, Stacy values regular mentoring in use of the DIR®/FCD™ DIRFloortime® model. Dr. Stacy learned practical use of the DIR® model through the interdisciplinary lenses of occupational therapy, infant mental health and family focused mental health, and speech and language by renowned faculty and facilitators associated with the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, and most recently, Profectum™. Stacy holds a Professional Certificate from Profectum™ Academy in DIR® (Development, Individual Differences, Relationships)/FCD™ (Foundational Capacities of Development™) and she is a Profectum™ Fellow, Expert Clinician and Profectum™ Senior Faculty. Embrace the Child, Ltd. is also a verified DIR®/Floortime™ practice by the Interdisciplinary Council for Development and Learning Disorders. It is the first OT practice and currently, Stacy is the only one in Pittsburgh to have this level of credentials and expertise. Stacy has studied and applied the DIR® model in her work with children and families for over 20 years. In addition to being mentored, Stacy is also a mentor and enjoys training interdisciplinary professionals for Profectum™ by sharing the simple joys of interactions to the complex intricacies of the DIR® model with others. Stacy is an expert in sensory integration and holds a variety of certifications including Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests, Therapeutic Listening, The Interactive Metronome and Integrated Listening Systems, including the Safe Sound Protocol. She belongs to the American Occupational Therapy Association and Pennsylvania Association of Infant Mental Health. Stacy continually reviews research and attends conferences to acquire up-to-date evidenced-based treatments which guides her clinical reasoning and reflective practice serving children and families. Embrace the Child, Ltd.® is a neuroaffirming practice and Stacy also values the nuances and intersections of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in her work.
Stacy enjoys sharing a myriad of topics to help families understand their children and to help professionals learn to engage families. Stacy is a dynamic speaker and presents nationally on the importance of family-centered therapy and relationship-based work and use of the DIR®Model. Through presentations and her writings, she encourages fellow occupational therapists and multi-disciplinary professionals to make a strong impact with family-centered care to recognize the need for a strong mental health component and reflective practice to effectively support children and families. In addition, she has created a theoretical model on the integration of family occupations and relationships paving the way clinicians to frame everyday family living. Elements of Stacy’s work are presented in her co-authored publications. She was selected to be the first author with DeLana Honaker, PhD, OTR, FAOTA and Ruby Salazar, LCSW, BCD in the chapter “Putting Families First: Family Occupations and Family-Centered Therapy” in Foundations for Pediatric Practice for the OTA which is the first known published work on pragmatic teaching and understanding of “family occupations” for practitioners. In 2021, along with her mentor Ruby Salazar, LCSW, BCD, Stacy co-authored the chapter “Full Circle Autism Care Includes Family Relationships and Dynamics: Practical Application” in Emerging Programs for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In 2019 Stacy was honored with the prestigious American Occupational Therapy Association Award of Emerging and Innovative practice for “Defining Excellence and Leadership in Family-Centered Practice.” Stacy engages with professionals, both sharing her expertise and learning from her own colleagues and different disciplines. She is member of a well-respected consultation group of mental health professionals. In 2013, she formed the Occupational Therapy Pittsburgh Initiative (OTPI) which is a leading group of OT’s whose vision is to promote excellence in the profession and the community to multi-disciplinary clinicians, educators and consumers. Stacy appreciates the importance of providing a cohesive team experience, including understanding families and their expertise on their child.
Barbara Corcoran of the acclaimed The Corcoran Group and ABC television’s, Shark Tank, identified Stacy’s passion as the cornerstone for success in her business to serve the children and families of Pittsburgh and beyond.
Read more here:
Stacy is a civic leader, has playful qualities, loves to sing, and receives her greatest joy in family togetherness with her own family, and watching these “magic moments” with yours.
Most often therapy occurs in the context of play providing a safe environment with just the right challenge for learning and progression. Play is often a very fun way to engage the child all while including the family as active participants. However, depending on the child’s and family goals, therapy may take place in a variety of contexts such as during daily routines or in the community.
At Embrace the Child® therapy may occur in the clinic/studio, in the natural setting of your home, school or community. Regardless of location, the family is engaged. Family participation is best for carryover, understanding, and addressing challenges. Every effort is made to tailor location of treatment to the individual needs of the child and family based on availability.
Typically, direct treatment services incorporate both the child and the family. The therapist “directly” intervenes in treatment either physically during a task, as a model, or as a “coach” to facilitate parent-child interactions during life activities.
Consultation too will include the child and family. Supporting, discussing and recommending ways to carry out activities in the child’s environment to address the child/family needs is the focus. Suggestions encourage development during interactive play or guide parents to resources that would help their child and grow occupations and relationships. Consultation may also include providing parent advocacy, establishing multi-disciplinary team conferences, and meeting regularly with caregivers and/or educational staff. These services can be provided as an “as needed basis” or on a regular basis. Please ask about our effective consultation-only models.
Most often, direct treatment and consultation are part of every program; but, depending on the child and family needs, the amount and how each will be implemented differs.
At Embrace the Child®, a subtle challenge can be addressed immediately. Giving the extra boost early on helps to prevent further challenges down the road.
Services are provided primarily to the following localities in the South Hills-Bethel Park, Upper Saint Clair, Mount Lebanon, and Peter’s Township. Other localities will be considered based on a case-by-case basis. “As needed” or monthly services or clinic-based can be very effective and may be an option for families who are located in out-lying areas. Feel free to contact us to discuss your options.
Stacy’s clinic is more accurately called a “studio”. Why? Because our work together, truly is “art.” To intervene holisticially, both art and science outlooks are integrated. Studio-based services are conveniently located near South Hills Village Mall at The Saint Clair Building, Suite 208, 1725 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15241 (in the building directly adjacent to Walgreens). Feel free to contact us to discuss your options.
Early Intervention Specialists provide comprehensive treatment in the home which starts at infancy and lasts until the age of 3. Embrace the Child® will also intervene with a child as infant as an adjunct to early intervention services. We provide thorough understanding and expertise in development and family centered care makes her the ideal therapist to supplement your Early Intervention Service Providers. As a private provider, treating your child can continue beyond the age of three. Alternatively, we can begin treatment when Early Intervention Services conclude. Caregiver(s) and the child continue to benefit from strong support, guidance, and family-centered care particularly during early developmental years past the age of three.
An Early Childhood Education program is based on an educational model. In that setting, an O.T.’s primary goal is working with a child to be the best that he or she can be in a pre-school environment and developing strategies for him or her to learn in the best way possible. Embrace the Child® treats using a medical model which fills gaps that cannot be addressed by an educational model. By encompassing broader aspects of functioning, the goal of a medical model is to help the child and the family be the best that they can in many aspects of life.
Intensive therapy, or therapy offered at a high frequency each week, is an option on a case-by-case basis and is determined by availability. Particularly for children with significant priority needs, intensive therapy provides immediate concentrated intervention for the child and strong concerted efforts for the family to fully understand and support their child.
Stacy will gladly work with your current OT as part of a team effort as an adjunct to your present therapy. The option to supplement with a DIR® expert affords comprehensive treatment for your child and family.
We Capture Joyful Moments
We look for the “gleam in the eye” and we go for it! We PLAY all day–everyday! We understand all of development and how it works (D). Your child is special and unique and so are you–we understand kids and we understand parents (I). Together, we journey along a path and we build relationships (R). We learn from you too! As we put this all together, we coach you, we help you to understand in practical ways and make it a point to capture joy filled moments with your child over and over again! And, remember, you will learn and you’ll take it with you into family life!
The DIR® model developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder is the primary framework used by Embrace the Child, Ltd. Specifically, DIR®/Floortime™ clinicians view the child through a developmental lens (D) of functional core capacities. DIR®/Floortime™ clinicians have a very thorough understanding of the developmental capacities (D) which are seen in all children, but are challenging for some. These capacities begin with self-regulation and engagement and move toward intentionality and shared problem solving with continuous reciprocal interaction and lead to forming symbolic ideas and logical thought processes. They are the ladder to abstract reasoning and complex thinking and support the integration of all the developmental elements (sensory, motor, social-emotional, cognitive, language, visuo-spatial). Therapists who use the DIR®/Floortime™ model treat the whole child with regard to the uniqueness of the individual (I). They also treat placing importance on the family and key relationships (R). In addition, the Foundational Capacities of Development (FCD’s) include building Comfort, Control, Competence, Confidence and Communication as an over-arching support to the child’s growth and development.
(DIR model is an acronym describing the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship Model. DIR® is a registered trademark of ICDL in the USA)
Stacy is on Profectum’s DIR®/FCD™ Faculty (Development Individual Differences Relationships)/ FCD Foundational Capacities of Development™ and is an expert clinician. She was the first person in the Pittsburgh area to receive a DIR®/FCD™ Professional Certificate and become a Profectum™ Fellow in DIR®)/FCD™ and Profectum™ Trainer in DIR®)/FCD™ Stacy’s practice is also verified by the Interdisciplinary Council for Development and Learning Disorders, the seminal DIR®/Floortime® organization.
Stacy began studying the DIR® model in 2002 and has intensively trained for over 15 years. The certification process entails rigorous studying, presentations and tutoring from expert clinicians. Since that time, Stacy has been regularly mentored in use of the DIR® model from renowned occupational therapy, infant mental health, and speech and language faculty and facilitators associated with the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, and Profectum™.
Stacy chose certification in DIR® because of the comprehensive nature of the model realizing that ultimately this broad outlook provides a best-practice framework for her to help those diagnosed on the autism spectrum, those neurodevelopmental related differences and with all abilities.
We Make Sense of Sensory Integration
We make things simple. We help you to understand your child’s reactions to touch, movement, sight, sound, taste, smell, hearing, and their body, even the tickles in their tummies and see how this effects life. You learn how all the senses work together as it is explained by the therapist–in real time. You understand why you child may show strong reactions to sensation and what to do about it or why you child may appear to not respond to sensation and how to help them better process it. You will learn why your child may appear clumsy or have trouble determining a plan of action in play with a toy or with friends and how to make it work for them. Learning how sensation is connected to emotions will help you to make sense of what is happening whether your child is extra bouncy or melting down. Most importantly, you will learn how to make your social interactions just right so that they are interpreted as a “match” to better connect with your child. Your child will learn much about sensory processing in fun sensory-rich play activities, gaining confidence, together with you. Helping you make sense of sensory processing and your keeping your child senses in sync are our priority—so that you can focus on enjoying each other!
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition characterized by inability to accurately process incoming sensory information and produce a typical response. In essence, the sensory input received from the world becomes jumbled or disorganized when the brain tries to process it’s meaning. A child with SPD may be over or under reactive to sensory input, demonstrate decreased ability to interpret the senses, and/or exhibit clumsiness with motor tasks. A child with SPD will have difficulties that effect function in daily life across many arenas on a regular basis. In addition, often times a child may exhibit poor self-esteem or emotional dysregulation as a result of the sensory challenges that he or she encounters in their world around them.
Stacy has used the Sensory Integration frame of reference and treated children with Sensory Processing Challenges including those on the autism spectrum since 1995 in a variety of places including homes, Sensory Integration clinics, schools and hippo-therapy to name a few. Stacy became certified to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis test in 1996. This comprehensive set of tests provides a clinician with skills to assess and understand children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Through her career, she had the opportunity to learn and was mentored by accomplished colleagues who worked with well-known experts in the Sensory Integration field, including its founder, Dr. A. Jean Ayres. In addition, Stacy has attended numerous Sensory Integration related conferences; continually reviews evidenced based research on Sensory Processing Disorder; and keeps up to date with the most current literature.
Opportunities: Presentation And Training
Stacy is a local, regional, and national speaker. She is available to speak at pre-schools, elementary schools, support groups, churches, and universities as well as to related organizations. As a holistic occupational therapist and DIR® trained clinician, a myriad of options are available including, but not limited to:
Stacy will gladly provide formal presentations to groups and organizations as well as more informal trainings to families in need of understanding and clarification of their child’s specific needs and ways to build on strengths.
Experience the Connection, Dedication and Continuity
What ETC Families and Children have to say
“Stacy is amazing at what she does! She took the time to explain how OT was helping my student, and explained the DIR®/Floortime™ model, which I could see was a huge benefit. I used the tools that Stacy taught me to help support this child in my classroom.”
“Stacy has helped our child immeasurably. She took the time to thoroughly observe our child in a family setting. She provides a holistic view and as a consultant and developed an appropriate, fun and easy program to help us along the way.”
“I could not have connected with my son without your great coaching. I don’t know if you realize how great you are at what you do. You truly care about [my son] and it shows. I thank GOD that I found you.”
“I have witnessed my child exceed his own expectations and develop new self-esteem and potential in a few short months! It was priceless to share that with him. I will forever be grateful for Stacy’s in depth understanding of our individual child!”
“Stacy is one of a kind…a miracle worker in my book.”
“I admire you for practicing occupational therapy the way that it should be done.
“I appreciate you and your efforts to help children with special needs. It is a true privilege to work with you, one of the therapists on the front lines of helping these kids. Thank you for that opportunity.”
“Stacy has been a wonderful mentor! I have observed Stacy’s work and her methods are highly beneficial to the families and children. She provides a loving environment to every child and approaches OT as a fun, family activity.”
“We found your presentation at group to be really good. Bringing all of your knowledge into practical, easy-to-understand discussion was very cool. I think the other parents shared our sentiment.”
“My kids are so happy, they don’t want to leave.”
“Stacy’s therapeutic experience and training are extensive. Her intelligence and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated and much respected. Embrace the Child, Ltd. is truly a family-centered practice and ideal for you and your child.”
“I know that your business is named Embrace the Child, but I’ve always thought that you’ve done an exceptional job embracing the entire family!”
“I do not have words to describe how grateful I am for your help and kindness. You are a true blessing to the children that you serve.”
“Stacy works with us as a trusted member of our family. Her competencies are excellent, and she has been immensely helpful. We absolutely love her!”
“Stacy is very hands on and so gentle, yet effective with kids. She has a wonderful way of training the parents too…never too intrusive and always very helpful.”
“Stacy is the hardest working person I’ve met since we began this journey.”
“Amazingly intuitive and easy to work with OT. First time I’ve actually been able to “play” with my child, and read his cues. Most enjoyable experiences of my life.”
“Stacy’s sincerity, warmth, genuine interest, and advocacy simply can’t be matched.”