Occupational Therapy

Our licensed pediatric occupational therapists specialize in functional, play-based interventions. Play is a vital skill that impacts every aspect of a child’s development.  Our occupational therapists are committed to providing the most current, evidence-based occupational therapy practices to assess your child’s sensory processing skills, motor planning abilities, fine and visual motor integration skills, bilateral integration skills, and activities of daily living abilities.  This will allow us to determine any functional limitations that may be interfering with his or her ability to successfully engage in and interact with his or her natural environments and participate in functional play with peers.

Through the sensory integration framework, our mission is to help each child we serve reach his or her optimal potential. The goal of occupational therapy is to provide a “Just Right Challenge”.  This will assist with success within your child’s environment and to assist your child in developing skills that impact his or her holistic development.  OT will address sensory needs by providing stimulation to the vestibular, proprioception, and tactile systems through various suspended equipment or other therapeutic equipment.  Therapy will also address fine motor skills needed for coloring, cutting, writing, or typing as well as activities of daily living skills such as tying shoes, buttoning, snapping, or zipping.

Therapy may be provided within the classrooms, which is considered the least restrictive environment, or out of the class for an individual session in the dedicated therapy gym.  Group OT will focus on successful peer play and social skill development by sharing art materials, interacting during game play, or taking turns on equipment.  A summary of your child’s progress will be sent home monthly that may include activities to target at home.

Meet Our Occupational Therapists

Leslie Murdock, M. S., OTR/L, #6099
Occupational Therapist, Department Supervisor, Clinical Instructor for Fieldwork Students

Leslie has been with Bridgeway Academy since they established in 2005.  She is certified in Therapeutic Listening® techniques and Astronaut Training; trained in Zones of Regulation, Brain Gym, Neurovascular Integration and has taken courses in Sensory Brain Development and Manual Therapy for Neurosensory Relief & Regulation.  She is a Clinical Instructor for Level I and II college and university students.  She holds her Practice Area of Emphasis in Pediatrics.  Leslie is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Prior to joining Bridgeway Academy, Leslie was part of a home-based therapy team where she realized her love of children.  Leslie worked in the public school system for 3 years focusing on writing interventions including Handwriting Without Tears and Sensory Strategies for the classroom.  In 2005, she was published in the Quill of Alpha Xi Delta, Accolades for Special Children.  She has presented on Sensory Integration Effects on Children with Autism; Sensory Strategies for the Home; Fine Motor Activities and Handwriting; Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Therapy for Children with Learning Disabilities; and Sensory Strategies in the Classroom.  Leslie received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Boston University and her Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Professions, Majoring in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University.

Kaitlyn Starr, M. S., OTR/L, #7566
Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Coordinator, Food Acceptance Team

Kaitlyn joined the Bridgeway Academy team in the summer of 2011. She is a member of the Food Acceptance Team, and enjoys helping students explore and try new foods during Local Matters lessons.   Kaitlyn is the contact for schools and Universities for placing OT students, and coordinates with individuals interested in learning more about occupational therapy through observation and volunteer opportunities.

Kaitlyn has attended several courses to further her knowledge on children with Autism and sensory processing disorders, handwriting, Brain Gym techniques, selective and resistive eaters, and the Zones of Regulation curriculum. Prior to working at Bridgeway Academy, Kaitlyn worked at a school for children with Autism as well as a residential facility for severely developmentally delayed children and adults. Kaitlyn received her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Gannon University in 2010.

Karisa Fraley, COTA/L, #3431
Occupational Therapy Assistant, Food Acceptance Team

Karisa Fraley has been a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant since October 2005. Karisa has worked at Bridgeway Academy since the 2007-2008 school year. Karisa has been a leader in the Food Acceptance Team since 2011. She also helped develop and run a kindergarten and first grade handwriting and social skills group. Karisa has attended several trainings such Brain Gym, Mealtime Miseries to help selective and restive eaters, 3 school based OT conferences, and several Sensory Integration courses where she learned new strategies and techniques to help children and families at home and in the classroom, She has also been trained on Zones of Regulation which she has been implementing with some of her children, to help regulate their emotions and sensory needs.

Karisa has worked in various settings including acute care, home health and skilled nursing. She continues to work at Grant Medical Center, 2 weekends each month to keep her well rounded in the OT field. She enjoys her position at Grant however her real passion is working with children. She has an Associate’s degree from Stark State College in Applied Science in Occupational Therapy.

Lara Pytlik, MOT, OTR/L, #8123
Occupational Therapist, Food Acceptance Team

Lara joined Bridgeway Academy in August 2012.  She serves on the Food Acceptance Team, where she collaborates with other therapy and behavioral disciplines to encourage an increase of variety, textures and nutrition in students’ diets.  She has attended two continuing education courses to expand her knowledge on feeding and food acceptance.

Lara completed Handwriting Without Tears training, acquiring a multi-sensory progression approach when teaching Handwriting to students.  She helped to develop and run a handwriting and social skills group for Kindergarten and 1st graders.  Lara has also completed the Zones of Regulation training.  The Zones is a curriculum which provides strategies to teach students to become more aware and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.  She has used this with her students in the classroom and during therapy sessions.

Prior to joining Bridgeway Academy, Lara completed her education at the University of Pittsburgh where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Sciences, Minor in Social Work, and a Master in Occupational Therapy degree.  Lara completed many clinical fieldwork rotations with a focus on pediatrics, including a Muscular Dystrophy camp and a 3 month school-based placement.  She also spent 2 years as a nanny for a family of a child with Autism.

Ashlee Davis, MOT, OTR/L, #8536
Occupational Therapist

Ashlee joined the Helping Hands Center team during the 2013-2014 school year as an Occupational Therapist.  Since joining the HHC team she has collaborated in the development, planning, and leading of a handwriting and movement group at HHC which incorporated Handwriting Without Tears programming.  She has also attended a School-Based OT conference and as well as courses in Autism, ABA, activities of daily living/self-care, and handwriting.  Ashlee completed a training course in the Zones of Regulation training. The Zones is a curriculum designed to provide strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts. Ashlee has used this in the classrooms and during 1-on-1 sessions with students.

Prior to joining the helping hands team Ashlee worked with a variety of children with developmental disabilities in a school setting and an outpatient setting during fieldwork for her Masters program.  She obtained a pediatric specialization which included an additional course and clinical experience focused on developmental disabilities and Autism.  Ashlee assisted in the development of a picky eater group for preschoolers at the Nisonger center.  Ashlee also had the opportunity to work with children with Autism as a home health aide and an independent provider. During her work experience she completed three Autism Aide ABA training courses. Ashlee received a Master’s of Occupational Therapy Degree from The Ohio State University. 

Kimberly Kay, OTD, OTR/L, #6947
Occupational Therapist

Kim is an occupational therapist at Bridgeway Academy. She started at Bridgeway Academy in October 2015, and is trained in Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, and Interactive Metronome – Home.

Prior to joining Bridgeway Academy, Kim has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in the clinic setting in the Columbus area.  She has attended continuing education courses on sensory integration and play based therapy.  Kim received a Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy from the University of Toledo and an Occupational Therapy Doctorate from the Medical College of Ohio/University of Toledo.


Emily Beam, COTA/L #5854
Occupational Therapy Assistant

Emily is an Occupational Therapy Assistant at Bridgeway Academy. Emily joined the therapy team in 2016 where she works closely with other team members to increase the independence of the children at Bridgeway Academy.

Prior to joining Bridgeway Academy, Emily was employed at an Acute Care setting in Canton, Ohio where she provided inpatient and outpatient therapy services. She has taken several courses focusing on sensory integration, self-regulation and occupational therapy treatments for children with Autism. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Assicoiation (AOTA). Emily graduated from North Central State College in 2014 with her Associates of Applied Science; Occupational Therapy Assistant.

Ciara Frazee, COTA/L #6565
Occupational Therapy Assistant

Ciara is an Occupational Therapy Assistant at Bridgeway Academy. She joined the therapy team in September 2016 and has a passion for serving the pediatric population. She is always looking for ways to expand her knowledge of diverse therapeutic intervention strategies.

Ciara graduated from North Central State College in May 2016 with her Associates of Applied Science; Occupational Therapy Assistant. She is originally from the Mansfield area and completed one of her Fieldwork experiences at Avita Pediatric Therapy Center.

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