Summer Harrison, Executive Director
In 2003, a friend of Summer’s who specialized in special education law, suggested she search the internet for “something called EPSDT”. Since then, she has been actively engaged in advocating for her daughter’s services and supports through Medicaid. Hannah now receives 24/7 skilled nursing, five hours a week each of PT, OT, Speech and Augmentative Assistive Communications therapies, all funded through Medicaid. Lacking appropriate medical specialists in her home state of Hawaii, Medicaid has funded regular journeys to the continental US for Summer and Hannah, most recently an extended stay in New York. While the first neurologist who examined Hannah stated her brain damage was so severe it was possible she would never develop beyond the level of a two-month-old infant, as a result of Hannah’s intensive supports she walks, climbs stairs, bicycles, reads and performs addition, subtraction and multiplication at the level of a third grader, talks (though much of her speech in unintelligible) and navigates among 300-plus pages on her speech generating device (a Dynavox VMax).
In 2006, Summer was contacted by the mom of a baby with constant severe seizures. The state’s single children’s hospital had forced them to pay $30,000 to air transport the baby to see specialists in California, without once ever mentioning the little girl could qualify for Medicaid. Since then she has been informally helping other families get their children enrolled in Medicaid waiver programs, secure therapies and nursing services, and obtain travel to out-of-state specialists, all through Medicaid.
Summer has her M.A. (Econ) from the University of Manchester in England, and completed all the requirements except the dissertation for her doctorate in Sociology from the same institution.
Dechantal Montano, Advisory Committee
Dechantal C. V. Montano, OTR/L, OTRP has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist for 16 years both internationally and in the United States. She began her career in Pediatrics opening a specialized full day experiential clinic for students with Multiple Disabilities, Autism and Learning Disabilities from ages 1.5-21 years in the Philippines, combining principles of A. Jean Ayres Sensory Integration Therapies with Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Mindworks Early Learning Center, The QTherapy Center) for 2 years until Red River Rehabilitation, Inc. in Oklahoma invited her to the United States to begin an outpatient Sensory Integration based center (The Rehab Center). While in Oklahoma, Dechantal had exposure to practice with Pediatric neurologic, orthopedic and genetic disorder populations in hospital and school-based therapies, Adult and Geriatric interventions (community, hospice and home retraining), mastered the Prospective Payment System (PPS) systems which included Medicaid reimbursement prior to being the Senior Occupational Therapist at Red River Rehabilitation.
In 2005, she was invited to come to New York City by RCM Health Care Services to initially be Senior Occupational Therapist for Pediatric, Educational and Turning 21 programs for Regional and District 75 schools in cooperation with NYCDOE, as well as become consultants to hospital- based Pediatric facilities (e.g. Maimonides Hospital, Lutheran Hospital, Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center). Then she became the Associate Program Director at the International Academy of Hope (iHOPE), the first research based private school for students with Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Based Disorders. Dechantal currently is the Clinical Rehabilitation Supervisor at RCM Health Care Services and RCM Treatment Center (PT, OT and SLP) in New York City which specialized in evaluation, assessment, measurement and case studies on Neurological Behavior Modification, Sensory Processing Modules and Training, and Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT, The Listening Program Provider by Advanced Brain Technologies), and has consulting partnerships alongside colleague Sara Naegele with schools and entities across New York City.
Her other professional experiences include publishing in the Advance for Occupational Therapy Magazine (2009: Collaboration and the Temp: A Love Story), Guest Lecturer for Evidence Based Practices at the NYC Charter Schools Conferences (2013: Execu-Sensory Basics and Application; 2012: Sensory Processing and the Learner), and consultancy with NYC schools for Execu-Sensory Application of the Brain, Body and Mind; Neuroplasticity for Unique Brains.
Dechantal is also well versed with School Function Assessments (SFA), Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DVPT-II), Bruininks-Oseretsky Motor Scales, Sensory Profiles (Winnie Dunn), Brain Gym, Feldenkrais Program (Awareness Through Movement), Modified Iyengar Yoga in Therapy-Base and Get Ready to Learn (modified), Visual-Vestibular Rehabilitation, The Irlen Method, Handwriting Without Tears, Brain Training, Joint Action Response System (JARS), Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS, Mayer-Johnson), Verbal Applied Behavior Analysis (V-ABA), DIR/Floortime Therapy, The Miller Method, and multiple AAC training experience.
Sara Naegele, Advisory Committee
Sara Naegele, MSEd in Children with Disabilities is a consultant with 10 years of collective educator experiences from being a Teaching Assistant (Children of Working Families), Special Educator (District 75), Learning Specialist (Cornelia Connelly Center). She holds dual certification, from the New York State Department of Education in Children with Disabilities (Grades 5-9, City University of New York) and Early Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 2, Long Island University).
In Sara’s scope of practice, she has taught and created a curriculum for 8:1:1 classes in District 75 of NYCDOE (primarily Autism, co-morbidities of TBI and ADHD), and pioneered in the utilization of Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA), Social Skills in Our Schools (SOS) programs for children with disabilities. She pioneered in Exploring the Writing Process, Editing and Publishing (2008), Storytelling, Critical Literacy and Creative Drama Techniques (2009), Recipe for Reading and Balanced Literacy (2009), and literacy mapping data collection initially, school-wide then NYC school system-wide to support NYS standards for imparting developmentally appropriate instruction rather than grade level assigned expectations for students with multiple disabilities.
She completed a Master’s Thesis on an Evidenced Based Practice study on Auditory Integration Training (AIT) and Correlation to School Function Assessment Results (2008) as part of CUNY’s standards of practice and master’s programs. Sara is well versed in Brigance Life Skills Assessments, Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, Key Math, Qualitative Reading Inventory, Developmental Reading Assessment, NWEA Map Testing, New York State Alternative Assessment (NYSAA), Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills, Sensory Profile, School Function Assessment and Executive Function Screens and Interviews, and Irlen Preliminary Assessments.
Sara was the Learning Specialist at Cornelia Connelly Center where part of her duties were to not only provide Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) coordinate Individual Educational Service Plans (IESP) with the school and the Committee on Special Education (CSE), promote and educate Differentiation and Scaffolding techniques based on Neuroplasticity and Neuropedagogy for efficient and effective classroom learning, implemented sensory-friendly environments based on principles of sensory processing. She was the primary resource for parents and staff for community supports and activities for children with learning disabilities and extra-curricular activities. Then she became the Associate Program Director for the International Academy of Hope (iHOPE), the first research based private school for students with traumatic brain injury and brain based disorders. Currently, Sara is freelancing and does consulting alongside her colleague Dechantal Montano with schools and entities across New York City.
In lieu of this, she is well versed with Behavior Modification techniques, A. Jean Ayres Sensory Integration Theory, Executive Functioning Skills by Dr. Richard Guare and Dr. Christopher Kaufman, The Irlen Reading Method, Brain Gym in the Classroom, Visual-Vestibular Stimulation in the classroom, Bal-A-Vis-X, Brain Training, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS, Mayer-Johnson), and Feldenkrais (Awareness through Movement). She also lectures on Best Practices and is a consultant to NYC Charter School Districts on Neuropedagogy.
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