On The Cover
30 Years of
University debuts fresh look and feel
Service-learning shapes students
On Top Of The World
Barry pride displayed around the globe
Fall 2013, Volume 18
Brandon Romay excels at the Kinetic Kids program
By Gladys Amador
Pediatric teaching clinic helps children with special needs while giving occupational therapy students real-life training.
As part of an exercise designed to help him improve his focus, 10-year-old Brandon Romay traces foam letters on a piece of lined paper. When a letter falls to the ground, Brandon stops writing and crawls under the table. Former Kinetic Kids, Inc. occupational therapist Fabiola Conille needs him to refocus. “Show me a good sitting,” she says. Brandon, who suffers from mild seizures that cause his mind to go blank, pokes his head out from under the table at a therapy session last year in a brightly-decorated, playground-like room at Barry University’s Adrian Hall. “But I just need to pick up this letter,” he says. Conille replies with carefully planned technique, “Okay Brandon, show me a good sitting in one … two … two-and-a-half … two-and-three-quarters …” Before she finishes, Brandon pops back up into his chair, his back straight, hands clasped on the desk. “It’s all about redirecting him, being very clear with him and keeping it moving,” Conille explains.
This type of therapy is designed to help kids or adults with neurological disorders or developmental delays become as independent as possible, explains Belkis Landa-Gonzalez, director of the occupational therapy program at Barry University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Landa-Gonzalez has partnered with Jennifer Gober, founder of Kinetic Kids, since 2009. The collaboration has proved enormously beneficial both for Barry students as well as special needs families like Brandon’s. “The interaction we have with faculty on campus is important and, in turn, we are able to provide students with the groundwork of clinical practice,” Gober says. “It’s a great opportunity; the give and take of knowledge and resources is invaluable.” The partnership with Barry and other universities gave Gober a way to develop a pediatric research and teaching clinic on campus with a focus of providing services to children with autism. It also afforded the students the opportunity to integrate what they learned in the classroom with hands-on experience working with specials needs families.
Barry students in the program earn a Master of Science. After graduation, they become certified as registered occupational therapists working at hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and schools. Kinetic Kids has hired four Barry graduates so far. Occupational therapists, Landa-Gonzalez explains, help people develop, recover or maintain the skills needed for performing everyday tasks, from dressing to studying to working. Here, therapists use games, toys and obstacle courses, to strengthen the children’s muscles, refine motor skills, and work on “sensory integration.” “Occupational therapy is science and arts combined,” Landa-Gonzalez added. “We need students with anatomy and science backgrounds but also with an interest in psychology and the ability to do crafts because you need to be creative and resourceful to come up with an individualized way to help your client.”