info@handinhandtherapy.com | 9426 Lima Rd, Ste A, Fort Wayne, IN 46818
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our Staff Fort Wayne IN

First Step Services

Developmental Therapists

 
Ruth Baumgartner — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Ruth Baumgartner, M.S.
 
Ruth Baumgartner, M.S.

Ruth graduated from Indiana University with a Master's degree and has completed many additional trainings in early childhood education – including sign language. Ruth has worked as a developmental therapist for many years and is typically referred to, in a loving way, as the grandma of the team. She has worked with children that have had delays in speech. Fine motor and gross motor, behavior problems, prematurity, hearing loss, vision problems, cognitive delays, autism, etc. Ruth believes strongly in the benefits of early intervention and working closely with the families to achieve goals. Ruth provides a very individualized session with a lot of activities designed specifically for the child.
 
 
Sherry Beech — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Sherry Beech, DT
 
Sherry Beech, DT

Sherry has an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Development. Since 2001 Sherry has been a Certified Infant Massage Instructor, CIMI. Also she has been providing developmental therapy to infants and toddlers through First Steps for 17 years. Sherry's purpose is to work with families and children to achieve their developmental milestones.
 
 
Tanda Brownlee — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Tanda Brownlee, B.S.
 
Tanda Brownlee, B.S.

Tanda received her Bachelors of Science degree in communication sciences and disorders from the Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2013. Her love for different cultures compelled her to continue studying Spanish in which she received a minor upon completion of her degree. She has since completed her masters from the University of Saint Francis in 2017. In her free time, she enjoys cooking a variety of foods and spending time with her family. She has a passion for working with children and families and has over 15 years of working with children. "First steps has been a blessing to be a part of. The foundation for our little ones are so important and I strive to be one of the many layers that will help with the development of our children."

 
 
Dawn Case — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Dawn Case, B.A.
 
Dawn Case, B.A.

Dawn earned a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She is passionate about working with children and families. Early intervention has provided the ability for Dawn to fulfill this passion. Being a mother of three, Dawn understands the importance of early intervention She enjoys being involved at church, camping, the outdoors and music.
 
 
Tiffane Creager — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Tiffane Creager, M.A.
 
Tiffane Creager, M.A.

Tiffane graduated from Taylor University with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and went on to work on her Master's at Concordia University where she received a Master degree in early childhood. She has been working with children of all ages since 2000. Tiffane continues gain knowledge through additional trainings and certifications, such as High Scope. Tiffane has three children who assist her in growing and learning everyday. She enjoys volunteering at her children's school and through Girl Scouts.
 
 
Ashley Finucan — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Ashley Finucan, M.S.
 
Ashley Finucan, M.S.

Ashley has been working in First Steps since 2012 as a Developmental Therapist – Communication Specialist. She earned both her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and her Master's degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis from Ball State University. In her spare time she loves traveling, reading, going to concerts and is an avid Green Bay Packer fan. One of the reasons she loves working with First Steps is for her love of children and the ability to see each of her clients grow and learn each week.
 
 
Mallory Fries — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Mallory Fries, B.S., M.S.
 
Mallory Fries, B.S., M.S. Candidate

Mallory received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from IPFW in 2014. Since graduation she has worked and gained experience as a speech-language pathologist assistant and a registered behavioral technician in the pediatric population. She is currently completing a Master’s of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University. Mallory enjoys working with the birth to three population as the children grow and development so much during that time. She believes these children soak up every little bit during that time and it’s her goal to provide them with positive and educational experiences that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives. Mallory believes that her presence in your home is only a small part of your child’s progress as she strongly believes in family involvement. Mallory will work hard to provide the family with resources and activities to work on their child’s developmental milestones in between therapy sessions. Mallory is experiencing this birth to three population first hand as she recently became a mommy for the first time. Mallory loves to spend time with her growing family, practice yoga, and take her golden retrievers for long trail walks.


 
 
Samantha Joley — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Samantha Joley, B.S.
 
Samantha Joley, B.S.

Samantha has a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Special Education. She has worked within First Steps for 10 years. Samantha loves being a developmental therapist. It gives her great joy to be able to work with families, using a team approach, to help children soar to their potential. Samantha has 4 children of her own.
 
 
 
Amber Kaur — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Amber Kaur, B.S.
 
Amber Kaur, B.S.

Amber received her Bachelor's of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2014. Since then, she has worked with children in a daycare, and at an autism center. Amber loves working with children because she believes they deserve the best care as they discover the world. Her passion in helping with children not only brings joy to her day, but motivates her to continue to help children who are in need, as her career excels.

 
 
Helen Laverghetta — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Helen Laverghetta, B.S.
 
Helen Laverghetta, B.S.

Helen graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne in 2010. She was involved in Speech and Hearing Club and ASL Pah! Club. Helen has work experience with children of all ages. She really loves children and helping them learn and grow. Helen has the ability to converse in Spanish and sign language. Helen enjoys talking to children and listening to them vocalizes their wants and needs. She enjoys being a part of a child's experience as they learn to do something for the first time. She feels great reward in being a part of new experiences.
 
 
Sarah Miller — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Sarah Miller B.S, DTC
 
Sarah Miller B.S, DTC

Sarah graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her studies focused on the area of early childhood development and neurobiological development and how they relate to language learning. Her passion lies with helping others and making connections that are both meaningful and helpful to those she supports through First Steps. She enjoys working with children and their families and her past experience as a nanny and a mother led her to pursue a career focused on language development. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys traveling, reading, and photography.

 
 
Lindsey Mosier — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Lindsey Mosier, B.A.
 
Lindsey Mosier, B.A

Lindsey earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech and Hearing Science from The Ohio State University. She is currently working towards a master’s degree in speech therapy at the University of Akron. Lindsey's passion is helping children with their communication needs. She loves watching children grow and develop; it really is an exciting time! Outside of work and school, Lindsey loves spending time on her family's farm, traveling and watching the Buckeyes win!
 
 
Jenna Neuenschwander — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Jenna Neuenschwander, B.S.
 
Jenna Neuenschwander, B.S.

Jenna graduated from Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education. Over the past years, she has worked with children through daycare, church activities, tutoring and student teaching. Her experiences have included teaching two-year-olds and assisting in inclusive classrooms. Jenna had her first encounters with First Steps in high school through job shadowing a Developmental Therapist. She appreciates the mission of First Steps to work with families and knows that the impact she can have will be multiplied many times over through this team approach. Jenna enjoys making people feel comfortable and has a joyful, playful nature that helps her connect with little ones.


 
 
Linda Okleshen — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Linda Okleshen, M.S.
 
Linda Okleshen, M.S.

Linda teaches Special Education Preschool in an area public school system. She holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Special Education. Linda is part of the Autism Team and Assistive Communication Team in her school district and has been a developmental therapist with First Steps since 2005. Linda is best known for her abilities in working with difficult behavioral situations. Her loving nature allows both family and child to feel safe in her treatment.
 
 
Marcy Richardson — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Marcy Richardson, B.S., MSW Candidate
 
Marcy Richardson, B.S., MSW Candidate

Marcy graduated from IUSB, in South Bend, In, with a B.S. in Special Education. Marcy worked as a Developmental Therapist for almost 8 years before leaving First Steps to pursue a career in Social Work. Marcy is currently working on her Masters in Social Work, but has returned to work for First Steps as a Developmental Therapist because of her love of children, and her love of instilling in children the desire to learn through play. Marcy has worked with children and families in other capacities, including Health Families, and Family Development and she has worked with children with a wide array of challenges, such as Autism, Down’s Syndrome, preemies, Failure to thrive, Chromosome Deletion, and others. Marcy takes a special interest in getting to know your child and your family and your culture and routines. This helps tailor therapy to your situation and family life.

 
 
Sara Stepinski — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Sara Stepinski, B.A.
 
Sara Stepinski, B.A.

Sara has a degree in Elementary and Special Education. Prior to serving young children through First Steps, she has had unique opportunities to teach special education, life skills, and English as a second language in various settings. Sara taught children with moderate disabilities on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona for 3 years, and spent seven years in Argentina doing volunteer mission work. She is fluent in Spanish and enjoys working with various multi-cultural settings. Sara is passionate about working with young children and their families to creatively assist them in achieving what they never thought possible.
 
 
Mackenzie Taylor — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
MacKenzie Taylor, M.S.
 
MacKenzie Taylor, M.S.

My name is MacKenzie Taylor and I am a recent graduate from Indiana University South Bend. I always knew when I was growing up, I wanted to work in a field where I would get to assist and help children and their families. I believe the cycle of working with children is a magical experience and something I live for. I enjoy seeing the excitement in children's eyes when they do something new for the first time. I have a three year old daughter and seeing that type of excitement never gets old. The best part about working with children is not only do I get to help teach them something, but they always end up teaching me something as well! I also look forward to building memorable relationships with the families!

 
 
Julia Thelen — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Julia Thelen, B.S.
 
Julia Thelen, B.S.

Julia works as a Developmental Therapist- Communications Specialist through First Steps. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences and a minor in Psychology from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has taken 4 levels of American Sign Language and enjoys teaching children how to communicate effectively. Her motivation is watching children reach developmental milestones by learning about the world around them. In her spare time, she loves to visit her family and friends, read, and travel.
 
 
Diana Wayman — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Diana Wayman, B.S.
 
Diana Wayman, B.S.

Diana is a Developmental Therapist – Communication Specialists. She received a Bachelor Degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2013. She enjoys working with children and their families. Diana's warm personality allows children to feel safe while working towards their goals. Diana is married and has 2 wonderful children. Diana enjoys spending time with her family, camping, and traveling.
 
 
Delona Welch — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
 
Delona Welch, B.S

Delona graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Psychology from Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne. She has over 4 years of experience working with a wide range of children. In her spare time she loves traveling with her puppy, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family. Delona has a passion for working with children and their families, and giving personalized support through the development of many different milestones.
 
 
Amanda Young — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Amanda Young, B.S.
 
Amanda Young, B.S.

Amanda graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Along with her degree, she also received a certificate in Gerontology from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. She has been working with children and adults with special abilities since she was in third grade. She has really enjoyed her time with first steps thus far and feels lucky to be apart of the children’s learning and developmental growth. She loves seeing her clients succeed in communicating their wants and needs to their families. In her free time, she volunteers at a camp in the summer for children who have muscular dystrophy and it’s her “favorite week of the year.” She also enjoys cooking and surrounding herself with her friends, her nephew (pictured), and the rest of her family as much as possible.
 

Occupational Therapists

 
Brandi Davidson — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Brandi Davidson, COTA
 
Brandi Davidson, COTA

Brandi is a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant who graduated from Brown Mackie College in July 2017. Witnessing the many milestones First Steps helped her daughter to achieve was one of the driving factors that encouraged her to pursue a career as a COTA. She strives to provide the quality service and support that her family received during those critical first years of her daughter's life. In her free time, Brandi enjoys spending time with her two kids, watching Disney movies, online shopping with her Mom, and eating take-out food.
 
 
Joanne Dean — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Joanne Dean, COTA
 
Joanne Dean, COTA

Joanne is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). She received her Associate's degree from Brown Mackie College in 2013. Joanne has a passion for working with children and currently works with children 0-3 years of age in Early Intervention. Joanne has 10+ years experience working with a wide range of children with Autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, communication disorder, and other developmental disabilities as a paraprofessional in the public school setting. She also has 10 years experience working with adults with developmental disabilities in a group home and day program settings. These experiences influenced Joanne to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy. Joanne is also certified as a Feeding Specialist using the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding program
 
 
Courtney Dyer — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Courtney Dyer, COTA
 
Courtney Dyer, COTA

Courtney went to Brown Mackie for her COTA. She made the change from hairstylist to a therapist when she was pregnant with her first child. She decided she wanted to do something with children after having a NICU experience. She enjoys working with kids because she gets to be silly and see them open up and reach their potential. She learns a lot from them and their families as well. She has 2 sons (technically 3) in May, and enjoys having them involved in sports and watching them grow.
 
 
 
Erica Grahovac, COTA

Erica is an Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In 2011 Erica earned her Associates of Applied Science in Occupational therapy. While her clinical education and Professional experiences have exposed her to treating clients in a variety of setting, she has always wanted to focus her skills on pediatrics helping children master a new skill and achieve their maximum potential. Recognizing Early Intervention plays a large role in lifelong development; Erica takes pride in being a positive influence in each child’s life.
 
 
Amanda Kramer — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Amanda Kramer, COTA
 
Amanda Kramer, COTA

Amanda is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant who enjoys working in Pediatric Therapy. Amanda graduated from Brown Mackie College where she received the President’s Award for outstanding scholastic achievement. Amanda also earned her BA in English Literature at Indiana University. Amanda loves coming up with new and creative ways to make therapy fun for her clients! She believes every child is a unique and wonderful gift who deserves to be loved unconditionally. When Amanda is at home, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs.
 
 
Kelli Fuller — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Kelli Fuller, COTA
 
Kelli Fuller, COTA

Kelli is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). She earned her degree from Brown Mackie College in 2015. She has prior acute/post-acute experience with the geriatric population. She always knew she wanted to work with kids though and was thrilled with the opportunity to work with first steps. Working with little ones and their families bring her much joy and satisfaction. In her spare time, she enjoys spending as much time with her family and traveling.
 
 
Julia Lange — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Julia Lange, MOTR/L
 
Julia Lange, MOTR/L

Julia Lange earned her Master's Degree from University of St. Augustine in 2006. She is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist with focus and passion for pediatrics. She is a feeding therapist and certified in Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding approach, is trained in Handwriting Without Tears, completed Level One Intensive Mentorship program with specialty in Sensory Processing Disorder treatment, and certified in Integrated Listening System (iLs). In addition, Julia has experience in working with children with Autism through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis. Julia enjoyed experiencing a variety of cultures and meeting new people and is involved in Human Engineers, Inc., a nonprofit organization that travels to indigenous regions to provide prosthetic and orthotics to children and adults who cannot afford medical care. She is also involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters in Fort Wayne. During her free time Julia enjoys traveling to new places, spending time with her dogs and family.
 
 
Erica Roberts — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Erica Roberts, OTR
 
Erica Roberts, OTR

Erica is a licensed Occupational Therapist. Erica received her Bachelor's of Science in Occupational Therapy from The University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. She has been practicing since 2004, working with a wide range of children ages 0-3 (early intervention), adolescents, adults and geriatrics in both Ohio and Indiana. With her primary work in an outpatient/acute care setting, Erica also dedicates her time to supervise for early interventionists. Her focus is set on pediatrics with a desire for sensory processing, emotional/social/behavioral skills, and overall development. Through her professional experiences, Erica has treated children with Autism, sensory processing disorders, trauma, cerebral palsy, ADHD, genetic/neurological disorders, and mental health issues. Erica has a passion for children and family education as she strives daily to maximize an individual's full potential in their personal life and through development.
 
 
Keziban Slisher — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Keziban Slisher, OTR
 
Keziban Slisher, OTR

Kezie graduated from University of Kansas Medical Center in 1997 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. Since then she has worked in many settings, allowing her to add to her knowledge and experience base. She has a combined 19 years experience as an occupational therapist with 7 years in First Steps alone. She has extensive, advance training and experience in diagnosing and treating sensory disorders.
 
 
Renee Welch — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Renee Welch, COTA
 
Renee Welch, COTA

Renee is a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant that has worked in Pediatrics since 2011. Renee is and certified in Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding approach lead by STAR Center, which is an effective way to address problematic feeding behaviors by allowing the child to interact with food in a playful, non-stressful way. Renee is passionate about working with not only the child, but collaborating with the family for the greater success in developmental therapy.
 

Physical Therapists

 
Nicole Edmonds — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Nicole Edmonds, PT, DPT, CEIM
 
Nicole Edmonds, PT, DPT, CEIM

Nicole Edmonds earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University and has been a First Steps provider for the past 3 years. In addition to First Steps, Nicole is a Certified Educator of Infant Massage and teaches the pediatrics courses at Trine University in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. She has always had a passion for pediatrics and continuing education. Helping families to develop skills to play with, get to know, and explore their environment with a kiddo that may need a different approach to meeting the world is something that Nicole finds to be incredibly rewarding. She aspires to find the “Just Right” challenge for each child and their family by learning about each person’s goals, strengths, and challenges and what is most important to them.
 
 
Lindsay Fuller — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Lindsay Fuller, PTA
 
Lindsay Fuller, PTA

Lindsey graduated from the University of Saint Francis with a Physical Therapist Assistant degree in May 2015 and recently earned her Bachelor's in Health and Exercise Science in December 2015. Having the opportunity to work with children has allowed her to feel she has the ability to impact their life in ways that will carry over into their future, as well as it helps her to grow as an individual herself. When she is not working, Lindsey enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as traveling when she has the opportunity.
 
 
Lisa Hoipkemier — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Lisa Hoipkemier, DPT
 
Lisa Hoipkemier, DPT

Lisa received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Indiana University. She has been working as a First Steps provider for the past two years. Her passion is working alongside families and helping children achieve success through developmental milestones. She has experience working with other disciplines and practices to fit children with the equipment they need to reach full mobility and success in their environments. Lisa is excited to continue to work with kiddos and their families and to see them reach their full potential.
 
 
Gretchen Klinker — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Gretchen Klinker, PTA
 
Gretchen Klinker, PTA

Gretchen graduated from the University of Saint Francis with a Physical Therapist Assistant degree and a Bachelor in Health & Exercise Science in May 2016. Working with these children has influenced person growth and allowed her to feel like she is making a difference in someone's life. Gretchen enjoys teaching yoga on the side & spending time with family and friends.
 
 
Rita Spears — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Rita Spears, PT
 
Rita Spears, PT

Rita has been a PT for 30 plus years. She is NDT (Neurodevelopmental Treatment) Certified in pediatrics. She has a small pediatric private practice which she has had for 15 years. Her first love is working with babies and she finds helping families learn to incorporate positioning and exercise into their daily routines very rewarding. She has worked with children with a variety of diagnoses. She has been fortunate to have been able to team with some excellent therapists over the years and feels teamwork among therapist, service coordinators and most importantly with families is the best path to success.
 
 
Barbara Wilson — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Barbara Wilson, DPT
 
Barbara Wilson, DPT

Barb Wilson graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor degree in Physical Therapy. Then completed her master's degree in education and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership. The focus of her career has been on educating future therapists and education of patients and their families. She is an advanced credentialed clinical instructor. Her commitment to education is now focused on pediatric clients and their families.
 

Speech Therapists

 
Chelsea Burke — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Chelsea Burke
M.S., CCC-SLP
 
Chelsea Burke, M.S., CCC-SLP

Chelsea has been a Speech-Language Pathologist since 2015. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Disorders from Indiana-University Purdue University Fort Wayne and received her Master's Degree in Communication Disorders from Marshall University. She has completed and presented research at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and West Virginia Speech Language Hearing Association (WVSHA) conventions. Chelsea is certified in the Beckman Oral Motor Protocol. She has experience and passion for helping children develop appropriate literacy skills. This is the focus of the Little Reader's Book Club she leads at the Hand in Hand outpatient clinic, as well as the one-to-one literacy services she provides to clients of all ages. She enjoys working collaboratively with families, schools, and other therapy providers to best serve the needs of the children she works.
 
 
Malarie Chartier — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Malarie Chartier M.S., CCC-SLP
 
Malarie Chartier M.S., CCC-SLP

Malarie is a Speech-Language Pathologist transplanted in Indiana from Michigan (Go Green!). She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from Northern Michigan University and holds her Master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Marshall University. Malarie has a passion for exploring development throughout the lifespan. She strives to provide families with applicable tools specific to fostering the development of communication and feeding skills with their child. In her free time, Malarie loves eating candy, reading, being outdoors and spending time with her family and friends.
 
 
Beth Early — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Beth Early, M.S. CCC-SLP
 
Beth Early, M.S. CCC-SLP

Most families and children fondly refer to Beth as “Miss Beth”. Miss Beth has been a full-time First Steps practitioner for over 15 years. Beth graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She believes that in order to best serve her families she needs to have knowledge of a diverse range of topics including eating/swallowing disorders, nutrition, sensory based disorders, discipline practices, toilet training, play therapy, emotional development, and hearing disorders in addition to speech/language. So, Beth regularly attends classes, reads books, and attends seminars. Miss Beth's promise to the parents is to be truthful, informative and work diligently to bring relief to the frustration and worry that may sometimes be present. Her goal is to replace those emotions with JOY.
 
 
Melissa Fuller — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Melissa Fuller, MA. CCC-SLP
 
Melissa Fuller, MA. CCC-SLP

Melissa graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2009 and with a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Cincinnati in 2016. Melissa also has her certificate of clinical competence (CCC) through the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). She worked as an SLP in the public school setting with children ages 3-22 ranging in a wide variety of special needs for 10 years. Her passion is the development of language in preschool-age children. She believes in the power of play and engages children through natural play and incorporates therapy into their everyday routines to promote communication growth in all environments. Melissa’s free time is spent on the family farm teaching her own two children the importance of hard work and a kind heart.
 
 
Natalie LeFever — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Natalie Grote M.S., CCC-SLP
 
Natalie Grote M.S., CCC-SLP

Natalie earned her Master of Arts Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ball State University in 2015. She has experience working with individuals across the lifespan with varying speech and language disorders. Natalie is certified in the Beckman Oral Motor Protocol. Natalie currently provides First Steps services and individual speech and language therapy at Hand In Hand. She enjoys working with individuals and their families to provide intervention and support specific to the client's needs.
 
 
Katie Keena — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
 
Katie Keena, M.A., CCC-SLP

Katie earned her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Indiana University in 2011 and has her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) through the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). Katie has worked in Indianapolis, IN and Charleston, SC in early intervention, outpatient clinic, and elementary school settings providing services to children with a wide range of speech and language needs. Katie’s passion is in the area of literacy instruction for school-age children. Katie completed a two-year training to become an Associate member as a literacy instructor through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. Katie uses the Floortime approach to early intervention, which involves building upon a child’s strengths, interests, and abilities by creating warm relationships while focusing on improving engagement, interactions, and symbolic and logical thinking. Katie is excited to meet new families and help them reach their goals!
 
 
Meredith Dorsch — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Meredith Killingsworth
MA, CCC-SLP
 
Meredith Killingsworth, MA, CCC-SLP

Meredith earned her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Ball State University in 2016. She has had experience with clients of all ages with various speech and language disorders, but her passion is working with children helping them and their families to reach their highest potential. She loves experiencing the moments when the child or parent is feeling excited and successful after all of the hard work that has been put in to a goal.
 
 
Karen Koch — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Karen Koch, M.S.
 
Karen Koch, M.S.

Karen Koch received her Master's Degree in Audiology and Speech Sciences from Michigan State University. She has been a licensed First Steps provider for 10 years. She specializes in feeding disorders for preterm infants. Karen believes strongly in a family-centered approach to therapy and establishing trust with each family she works with and working toward goals together.
 
 
Lauren Johnson — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Lauren Johnson, M.S. CCC-SLP
 
Lauren Johnson, M.S. CCC-SLP

Lauren Johnson is a Speech-Language Pathologist who received her Bachelor and Masters of Science degrees in Communication Disorders from Marshall University. Lauren enjoys working with a wide range of ages with a focus on pediatrics. She has experience working with hearing impaired children, and utilizes "learn to listen" strategies to assist little ones in reaching their communication milestones. Lauren also has a passion for emergent literacy skills in children. In her free time, she spends time with her friends and visits her family in West Virginia.
 
 
Cathy Lehman — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Cathy Lehman, M.A., CCC-SLP
 
Cathy Lehman, M.A., CCC-SLP

Cathy is a speech therapist who has specialized in pediatric speech therapy for the past 17 years. She obtained her Master's Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Indiana University in 1997 and is certified and licensed with American Speech and Hearing Association and Indiana Speech and Hearing Association, respectively. Cathy has enjoyed servicing a wide population of children with speech and language needs. She has completed specialized coursework with experience in infant-toddler communication, oral-motor assessment and treatment, voice care, video stroboscopy, aerodigestive tract disorders- infant/child dysphagia, autism, Down Syndrome, sensory processing disorders, and is a Samonas trained specialist- therapeutic listening- trained in use of music to facilitate language. Cathy loves providing family-centered, comprehensive speech therapy for infants and toddlers, and finds great joy in finding the “gold” in each child, seeing them reach their highest potential, while collaborating with parents to see increasing levels of growth. While Cathy thoroughly enjoys her job as a speech therapist, her greatest reward has been in being a wife and mother to her 5 children. There is never a dull moment in her adventuresome home, and although she cherishes rare times of quiet, she wouldn't have it any other way! Cathy enjoys singing, playing the piano, laughing, decorating, speaking at conferences, writing, reading, hiking, exercising and having a peppermint mocha latte with a good friend.
 
 
Chelsi Huff — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Chelsi Huff, M.S., CCC-SLP
 
Chelsi Huff, M.S., CCC-SLP

Chelsi works full time as a speech therapist in the Huntington County Community School Corporation and part time for First Steps. Chelsi has experience in providing direct speech services in the following areas: Apraxia, mild to severe articulation disorders and delays, cleft palate, language disorders and delays, stuttering/fluency, Autism, Down's Syndrome, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, and Pierre Robin Syndrome.Specialized trainings include: Verbal Behavior; Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS); Teach Me To Talk; iPad technology to assist in reinforcement, direct instruction, and assistive technology; Kaufman Apraxia of Speech. Her Licensing includes: Indiana Teacher's License, Indiana Health Professional License, and Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) through the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Chelsi is passionate about working with children and loves the ability to assist children in reaching their goals.
 
 
Tina Peaks — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Tina Peaks MA. CCC-SLP
 
Tina Peaks MA. CCC-SLP

Tina is a Speech Language Pathologist. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. She received a Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Cincinnati. Tina is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) with a Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology. Tina enjoys working with children ages 0-3 as they progress and grow in their language development to be the best communicators possible. She not only finds passion in working with children but loves working with the entire family.
 
 
Allison Sebastian — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Allison Sebastian, M.A., CCC-SLP
 
Allison Sebastian, M.A., CCC-SLP

Allison earned her Master's degree at University of Toledo in Speech-Language Pathology. Allison is a nationally certified with Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Allison's passion is with pediatric and school-aged children. She has most focus and knowledge with speech articulation, developmental language delay, cognitive-communication and social-language. She is certified in Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) feeding approach lead by STAR Center, which is an effective way to address problematic feeding behaviors by allowing the child to interact with food in a playful, non-stressful way. Allison is certified in the Beckman Oral Motor Protocol. Allison also has knowledge and experience with children who are on the autism spectrum, including an intensive autism camp during her graduate school program and continuing into her current case-load.
 
 
Amy Yoder — First Step Services Staffs in Fort Wayne, IN
Amy Yoder, MA, CCC-SLP
 
Amy Yoder, MA, CCC-SLP

Amy Yoder holds her Bachelors of Science, Speech and Hearing Sciences – Indiana/Purdue University, Fort Wayne and obtained her Masters of Arts, Speech Language Pathology- Indiana University, Bloomington. She has been working as an ASHA certified Speech Language Pathologist for the past 10 years. Four of those years, Amy worked in the school system providing services to preschool-fifth grade students. For the last 6 years, she has worked as an early intervention service provider through First Steps. Amy's love or working with the little ones demonstrated through her passion in her work. She loves seeing little voices come alive. Amy is a mother of three and believes her children have made her a better therapist through patience, perseverance, problem solving, and much more.
 

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Contact our Office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to schedule an appointment for therapies based on your need.