Pediatric Occupational Therapist
I have been practicing Pediatric Occupational Therapy on and off since 1988 when I graduated from Loma Linda University in Southern California. I have a passion for early intervention and kindergarten readiness, but I also enjoy providing services to our Young Adults with neurodivergent needs as well. I have 3 lovely daughters: Haley (31) works in the Culinary Arts, Hope (26) is an RN studying to be a Nurse Practitioner, and Hannah (24) who helps manage a nutrition shop in Boerne, TX. My girls grew up in SW Minneapolis, and I am so grateful that I was able to be a Stay-At-Home Mom for a season of my life from about 1992-2007. After I finished 2 years of Massage Therapy school at Sister Rosalind School of Massage, I then returned to Pediatric OT. I worked for Circle of Care Pediatric Home Health Care in San Antonio, TX from 2011-2019, and then did Early Intervention (0-3 y/o), before I became homesick and returned to MN-ND, and finally to the FM Area, where I was born and raised.
My favorite part of working at Embrace is that I get to collaborate with the best Speech Therapists, Behavioral Specialists, and Parent Teammates, and I no longer feel like the ‘Lone Ranger’ that I sometimes felt in Home Health. There is room in our community for all types of approaches and therapeutic interventions, but when we combine our experience and training there is something very powerful and unique for all of us!
My career has a few ‘proud moments’, but right now I am most excited about continuing to learn Craniosacral Therapy and offering that approach along with my sensory-motor and neurodevelopmental perspective. I like to make OT recommendations that I have seen proven clinically or in the classroom, and those that I have tried myself or w/ family members. I aim to be the best Parent Advocate and Encourager that I can be, and I’m always looking for ways to overcome challenges and create success for my OT Families.
I think people would be surprised to find out that I consider myself to be neurodivergent in my learning style. I was rear-ended in an auto accident in 2013, and that led me on a 3 year journey to PT, left-sided weakness, Disc Fusion Surgery and a recovery path with Complex PTSD. At one point in 2016, I was battling adult-onset stuttering, when an OT friend came along and offered her reflex integration treatment to me. After a 90 minute session with her, I have not stuttered since, and that is a huge victory!
I would tell my younger self: ‘Little Lees, Be confident in who you were created to be; Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and others even when you feel afraid; and most importantly: Surround yourself with people who want to make a difference in every life they touch.’
If I had any superpower, it would be… the ability to write and direct screenplays that would put Netflix and Hallmark out of business.
I got into occupational therapy, and returned to it after raising my daughters, because I’ve always enjoyed planning activities that grow our minds and skills. I remember returning to OT after 15 years as a full-time parent, I’d look over my shoulder and think: “This Job is so incredibly FUN! I sure hope the Fun Police won’t track me down and haul me away for having too much FUN…”
I wish that people knew that my job usually doesn’t feel like a ‘job’ at all. It feels more like a shared experience, or a high adventure with heroes and the whole deal.
If I had 3 wishes: I would wish that my Daughters would see their Mom do well in this world. I would wish that I could smash through obsolete and wrong thinking by spouting quick-witted jokes, and that everyone that needed a Forever Home would find it.
What do I most enjoy most about working here? It’s not the fruit bowl on the table. It’s not the hidden chocolate stash. It’s not even the mind-boggling number of therapeutic games & activities. It’s the Team of Practitioners that I feel so privileged to stand beside.
I like to read historical fiction and watch films and movies based on real people, events and places.
My Bucket List: Catch a Wild Alaskan Salmon, pop it in a smoker, and have a Feast with Family and Friends around a roaring campfire.