My personal definition of “pay it forward” is when you channel the love and kindness that has been shown to you and share it with others.
It’s my mission to encourage and inspire others to see the potential in all children! By sharing my expertise and experience as a pediatric occupational therapist, I help parents, teachers, therapists and other kid-loving professionals boost the development of the children in their own communities.
At Play it Forward’s sister clinic, Stepping Stones Therapy Network, our occupational therapists work with an amazing community of kids and families.
My hope is to be able to expand this sense of connection and support beyond our clinic’s walls through online education and sharing occupational therapy resources.
I hope that you will take courage, find inspiration and discover the fun and joy in learning with your children or students… Thank you for your desire to build the skills and support the development of our next generation.
I am so glad you’ve come to visit!
Q: What do you like best about being an OT?
A: I absolutely love my job as an OT! What I like best is being able to create play-based activities with just the right amount of challenge to help a child achieve the next level of success.
It’s all about knowing when and how much to push to help kids reach their potential. I enjoy the clinical aspects of how the brain works and problem solving why an activity is being avoided or why something is difficult for a child. Thinking outside the box to create fun ways to help them overcome obstacles in their daily lives is truly rewarding.
“When my kids are having fun and they don’t even realize that they’re working… that’s when the magic of OT happens.”
Q: Why did you start this blog?
A: The amazing families that I work with inspired me to create Play it Forward! My hope is that PIF can bring more awareness of the positive impact that occupational therapy has in the health and well-being of our next generation. Plus it’ll be a resource for kid-friendly ideas, information and insights for a special online community.
I know that being a parent is such an important job, but it’s also very challenging at times. My goal is to provide a resource for parents that’s always there for them and a blog that’s written from a perspective that understands the challenges, joys and the (sometimes steep) learning curves of being a parent. I truly value having a collaborative energy with families and teachers who have the best intentions for their kids.
Q: How are the activities on PIF different from other kid-activity websites?
A: The activities features are some of the most creative approaches to teaching specific functional life skills. My expertise as an OT comes into play by thinking of creative ways to help kids learn new skills or to work on activities that they avoid, can’t do or don’t like to do! I know how to choose games, create crafts and design activities that can match up with varying skills level, yet are challenging enough to help kids achieve the next level of success. All of the featured activities and games have been carefully selected to give the best boost for your child’s cognitive growth and sensory-motor development.
Q: How do you choose the activities and exercises?
A: I’ve been working as an OT for almost 20 years so I know what works and what doesn’t. The activities I feature on this website are the most popular and helpful ideas that have already been “OT Tested and Kid Approved”. The team of therapists at Stepping Stones Therapy Network have provided over 35,000 individual OT sessions in the past 5 years alone. This means that the activities featured on this site have already been vetted and curated by me and my team. The ” why” and “how” a child performs an activity is just as important as “what” the activity is. My hope is to use my expertise activity analysis to explain “why” certain activities are important and “how” they’ll help boost your child’s developmental skills.
I strongly believe in advocating for the profession of occupational therapy and testified at the Washington State Legislature to help pass a bill that would give patients easier access to their OT/PT and Speech Benefits in the prior authorization process.
In order to keep the distinct value of occupational therapy going strong, we need to support our clients and our profession not only within the clinic, but also at the legislative levels. I am pleased to say that the house bills that I testified for were passed into law!
These bills are a start in the right direction, but also an ongoing goal to help keep insurance companies accountable for providing our patients access to the services they need to live their lives to the fullest!
Areas of Expertise
Jessica is a registered and licensed occupational therapist in who holds dual degrees in Spanish (1998) and Occupational Therapy from the University of Washington (2000). She holds a specialized certification in Sensory Integration Theory and Treatment from the University of Southern California.
Her pediatric experience includes work at Seattle Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, birth to three early intervention, public and private schools.
Jessica is an nationally, award-winning small business owner recognized as an emerging leader by the American Occupational Therapy Association and the U.S. Small Business Administration. She is a contributing author to the OT Manager 6th Ed. and is a national online trainer and speaker for occupational therapists, teachers and parent groups.
For over a decade, Jessica has served as the Clinical Director at Play It Forward’s sister company; Stepping Stones Therapy Network. Her clinic, founded in 2006, had humble beginnings that evolved from the trunk of her car to what it is today- a bustling therapy clinic that helps over 500 children and families every year in the greater Seattle area.
Check out Stepping Stones Therapy Network!
Check out my latest OT Adventures in New Orleans