Occupational Therapy Staff

Lena Thoresen, OTR/L

lena

Lena graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with her degree in Occupational Therapy.  She has over 20 years of experience in her field and has a strong desire to help people and work with “difficult and challenging therapy situations.” Lena has worked with many medically fragile children, premature babies, and a variety of families with a multitude of challenges. One of her specialties is working with babies who are diagnosed with Torticollis.  She has attended specialized courses in FloorTime, Hippotherapy, Sensory Integration, Reflex Integration, Neuro-Developmental Therapy and Aggression Control Training (ACT) among many other classes.  Lena is originally from Norway, speaks fluent Norwegian as well as brings a unique perspective into multicultural living.  Lena believes it takes as many adults as possible to help love and raise children. “Parents need all the support they can get, as well as children can never have too many people who love them and look out for them”. Lena enjoys spending time with friends/family, running, volunteering and traveling.

Megan Halliday, M.S., OTR/L

megan-pitstick

Megan obtained her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy at Eastern Kentucky University.  Her love for children and helping families brought her into this field.  Megan has been with CTS since 2008 and has extensive experience in Sensory Processing Disorders, Handwriting Without Tears and academic based therapies, and feeding therapy utilizing the S.O.S. Feeding Approach.  She also has training in the Alert Program for self-regulation, FloorTime, and Brain Gym.  Megan connects with families and individualizes treatment to meet the family’s needs.  One of her specialties is problem solving difficult situations to create practical solutions to apply in the home setting to maximize progress.  Megan enjoys anything outdoors, volunteering with Junior League of Manatee County and other non-profits, spending time with family and friends, traveling, music, and watching sports (Go Rays!).

Lorin Newingham, OTR/L

Lorin graduated with her degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University. She was brought into the field 15 years ago by her love for children and helping others. Her patience, kindness, and flexibility make her the great therapist she is. Lorin specializes in providing quality and skilled therapy for medically fragile children with various diagnoses. She has attended specialized courses in FloorTime, Therapeutic listening, Behavioral Tools, Myofascial Release (MFRI), Brain Gym, Vestibular (Astronaut) training, Pediatric Kinesiotaping, Pediatric Feeding (The Big Picture), Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), Beckman Oral Motor Protocol, and Yoga for Special Needs. Lorin likes to play kickball, rollerblade, go on mission trips, volunteer in the community, and go to the beach as an Anna Maria local.

Elizabeth Reinbolt, M.S. OTR/L

Elizabeth graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. She was introduced to the field when her brother, who has autism, received Occupational Therapy at Children’s Therapy Solutions. Elizabeth then spent several years working with children with special needs prior to becoming an OT. Elizabeth is trained in PCM and her strengths are working with children with severe autism, medically fragile, cerebral palsy, and sensory difficulties. She oftentimes helps parents understand floor time play to help children engage with others and play more appropriately. In her spare time she enjoys kayaking, hiking, and shopping.

Cara Jackson, MOT, OTR/L

Cara earned her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Colorado State University in 2016 and her Bachelor’s degree from University of Central Florida. Cara was drawn to this field after volunteering at a summer camp working with kids and teenagers with disabilities, where she also met her husband, Larry. She strives to increase others’ happiness in helping them be able to eat, play, socialize, and have fun in their everyday lives! Cara has been working at CTS since 2016 and specializes in the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding approach with specialty training for a child on the Autism Spectrum and the CAN-EAT Approach. Aside from feeding, she is trained in Therapeutic Listening, Interactive Metronome, and Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Caregiver Training. She is up to date with teletherapy practices and is energetic and passionate about connecting with families virtually. Cara grew up in Bradenton and enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog, exercising outdoors, and painting in her free time.

Heather Carpenter, MOT, OTR/L

Heather graduated from Adventist University of Health Sciences with her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 2016. She was drawn to the field of occupational therapy from her passion for working to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Heather has been working for CTS since 2017 and is a kind and compassionate therapist that believes family-centered care is a key component of therapy and enjoys incorporating families into her session. Heather works as part of our feeding therapy team specializing in the Beckman Oral Motor protocol which focuses on interventions to increase functional response to pressure and movement, range, strength, variety and control of movement for the lips, cheeks, jaw and tongue required for feeding. She has a passion for early intervention and has taken a variety of specialized course to meet the needs of this population including Treating Torticollis, Evidence-Based Kinesiology Taping for Pediatrics, Essential Assessment and Treatment Strategies for Pediatric Orthopedic Dysfunction, and Occupational Therapy’s Role in Breast Feeding. Additionally, Heather is experienced in providing tele-therapy services and is trained in Interactive Metronome, and TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) for children who have experienced trauma. Heather was born and raised in Florida, during her free time she enjoys going boating, watching sunsets, traveling and spending time with her little girl, family, and friends.

Eleonora Salustri, MOT, OTR/L

Eleonora graduated from Barry University with her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 2017.  She was drawn to the field of occupational therapy through her volunteer experiences at a variety of pediatric sites.  Eleonora is a creative and compassionate therapist who uses her strengths to aid children in reaching their fullest potentials.  Eleonora was born in Rome, Italy and is fluent in Italian.  She enjoys spending her free time outdoors paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, and exercising.

Emily Spencer, MOT, OTR/L

Emily graduated from Adventist University of Health Sciences with her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy in 2017. She was drawn to the field of occupational therapy after working with children with disabilities in an ABA clinic. Emily is a joyful and compassionate therapist who loves to be a part of children’s journey towards independence. She has received specialized training in Handwriting Without Tears and is an Interactive Metronome® Provider. Emily also has previous experience working with children as an occupational therapy aid, registered behavioral therapist, and a gymnastics coach. During her free time, Emily loves painting, traveling, and spending quality time with her family and friends. 

Cristina Guerra, COTA

Cristina graduated from Keiser University in 2018 with her Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assisting. She was drawn to the field of occupational therapy by her love of working with children and wanting to help make a difference in their lives. She has always been driven to work with children and receives satisfaction from witnessing the improvement that a child can make. Helping families achieve goals in and outside of therapy also brings pleasure to Cristina, and it is important to her that each child grows to be as successful as they can in therapy as well as in life. Cristina was born and raised in Tampa, and enjoys being by the water, outdoor activities, working out, and listening to various podcasts.

Jennifer Brandon, COTA/L  

Jen graduated from State College of Florida Manatee in May 2019. Ms. Jen has always loved working with children, and upon discovering occupational therapy at just 11 years old, knew this was where she was meant to be. She loves OT because she is able to collaborate with families and help children overcome obstacles in order to become as independent and successful as possible in their daily lives. Ms. Jen provides OT services through teletherapy, and specializes in feeding therapy using the SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) Approach. She is trained in Interactive Metronome, and TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) for children who have experienced trauma. In her free time, Ms. Jen spends time with her husband, son, and friends, usually in the sunshine. Her hobbies include exercising, playing guitar, singing, and calligraphy.

Jenalee Hackett, COTA/L

Jenalee graduated from Keiser University, Tampa in 2020. While completing an internship at Children’s Therapy Solutions in the school setting, she learned from her OTR mentor the importance of the Floortime approach for children with ASD. Jenalee previously, completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and human development from Eckerd College in 2016. There she was introduced to the field of Occupational Therapy while completing an internship at the Autism Program at John Hopkins Children’s Hospital. She looks forward to helping children reach their goals in and outside of therapy, while being able to collaborate with the families. Jenalee grew up in Groveland, Massachusetts- a small town off the coast. Some of her favorite past times include spending quality time with friends, with family, and with her dog, being on the water, going to the beach, and reading.

Amanda Crump, M.S., OTR/L

Amanda graduated with her Master of Science degree from Eastern Kentucky University in fall 2008. She had a desire to help others which led her to Occupational Therapy. In fall 2017, Amanda became a Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner, which is a trauma informed approach for working with children who have experienced early life adversities. Through her experiences as an OT and as a foster and adoptive parent, Amanda has a passion for supporting children and their families. She has also completed continuing education courses in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing difficulties, Myofascial release, Interactive Metronome and behavioral interventions. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children, participating in church activities and watching sports.

Jessica Hauberg, M.S. OTR/L

Jessica graduated from Ithaca college in 2012 with her Masters in Occupational Therapy and a Minor in Exercise Science.  She was drawn to the field of Occupational Therapy after sustaining a knee injury in college requiring extensive rehabilitation.  Jessica has always had a passion working with children and initially started working with CTS in 2013. She has been a volunteer of Manatee Hope since 2012 and a Board member since 2016. Jessica has completed The Alert Program Course for Self Regulation and has basic ASL exposure, previously working with deaf and Hard of hearing children.  Jessica was born in Syracuse NY and relocated to Florida for the beaches and warmer weather.  She loves to travel, enjoys engaging in a variety of outdoor activities and any craft or fixer/upper project. 

Yvette Alanis, COTA (Photo to come)

Graduated from the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at State College of Florida in December of 2020. Before applying to the OTA program in 2018, I decided to volunteer at Children’s Therapy Solutions in 2017. It was more to observe and see what occupational therapy was about. After that very first day, I knew that I wanted OT to be my career. I want to be able to make a difference in the lives of children through occupational therapy. I was born and raised in Manatee County. Some of my hobbies are sight-seeing, arts & crafts, singing, listening to music, and photography.

Huntyre Elling, MOT, OTR/L (Photo to come)

Huntyre earned her Master of Occupational Therapy degree from Nova Southeastern University. She was introduced to the field when her younger sister, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and a rare genetic disorder, was receiving multiple therapy services. Her passion for working with children with special needs has grown even more through her educational experience. Prior to becoming an OT, she spent many years working with children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, down syndrome, autism, and medically fragile, as well as mentoring siblings of children with special needs. She is a creative and compassionate therapist who loves to be a support for families and children, while helping them reach their goals and be as successful as they can be. Huntyre grew up in Lakewood Ranch and in her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and dog, crocheting, being on the water, and taking long walks through Homegoods.

Rebecca Zemanovic, DOT, OTR/L (Photo to come)

Becca graduated from St. Ambrose University with her Doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy in 2020. She was introduced to the field by her aunt who is also an occupational therapist. Growing up, Becca spent a lot of time observing and eventually working as a paraprofessional in her grandmother’s life skills classroom for children with diverse abilities. Becca loves collaborating with families and children to reach milestones and achieve their individualized goals. During graduate school, Becca enjoyed learning about environmental modifications and its impact on sensory processing. Becca’s doctoral project focused on environmental modifications and inclusivity, she presented her research and project at the Occupational Justice Symposium. Becca is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, specializing in acquired and traumatic brain injuries. Becca recently moved to sunny Florida from the Midwest. She enjoys being on the water, sunrises (Becca is definitely a morning person), traveling and spending time with her daughter, husband, and friends.

Shelby Teat, COTA (Photo to come)

Shelby graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s of science degree in Psychology in 2017. After working 2 years in the Manatee county school system as an Exceptional Student Education aid she decided to follow her passion to help children with varying abilities using her creative touch. She returned to college in 2019 to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant. She graduated from the State College of Florida in 2021. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and 2 dogs.

Rachel Litus, MOTR/L (Bio and Photo to come)