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Brain Trust

Michal Eisikowitz

Just off Boro Park’s 17th Avenue, two sisters merge passion, professionalism, and a relentless pursuit for knowledge in a thriving occupational therapy practice. Here’s what they want you to know about child development — and the effective approach to choosing a therapist.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday morning, the appointment book showed three back-to-back appointments for occupational therapy (OT) evaluations. Eight-year-old Pinchas*, nine-year-oldMeryl, and twelve-year-old Shaindy arrived separately with their parents. Pinchas, a sweet boy with a history of delayed milestones who’d received OT services from birth, used to enjoy reading. Now, he’d agree to a book only if it was read to him; when forced to read himself, it took ages. Bright and imaginative,Meryl excelled in verbal expression. Academics had always come naturally to her, but she’d recently begun showing difficulty reading and writing. A three-page exam took her hours, teachers complained. Shaindy had trouble reading both Hebrew and English. At age eight, a therapeutic movement program improved her reading for a while, but as she got older and intensive board copying and complex reading assignments became standard, she started drowning. All three presented with the identical problem — reading issues — and a lightweight evaluation by novice professionals might have yielded similar treatments. But for Friedy Guttmann Singer andRoizyGuttmann, veteran occupational therapists who believe in comprehensive, exhaustive testing, the commonality ended there. “You have to look behind the symptoms, find the underlying issues,” Roizy says. Together the sister-colleagues run Hands on OT Rehab Services, established in 1999 in the heart of Boro Park. With over 5,000 children evaluated, and hundreds more treated to date, the practice has earned a reputation for effecting lasting change in children with sensory, anxiety, social, or behavioral issues. Its magical approach? The fact that there is none.

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