Our Therapists

All Child’sPlay therapists are trained and experienced in various areas of pediatric therapy. They are also caring people who want the best for you and your child.

Anne Abernathy Anne Abernathy

Anne is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist. She was born and raised in Alexander City, Alabama and graduated with a Bachelors in Rehabilitation Services from Auburn University. She received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Anne has experience working with children and adolescents with autism, children with emotional and behavioral disorders, and providing therapy services in the school setting. She has received training in the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, Integrated Listening System, Interactive Metronome, and feeding therapy. Anne is excited to be part of the Child's Play team to pursue her passion of helping maximize their success and independence.

Rachel Ashcraft Rachel Ashcraft

Rachel Ashcraft is a licensed and registered occupational therapist. Rachel received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion from Mississippi State University and received a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from UAB. She currently serves on the ALOTA committee of Government Affairs and on AOTA pediatric school of mental health workgroup. Rachel has specialty training in the following areas: Handwriting without Tears, Interactive Metronome, Integrated Listening System, Sensory Processing and Integration, Feeding Intervention with Pediatric Feeding Institute.

She is licensed to provide Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) through the Tourette Syndrome Behavior Therapy Institute (TS-BTI). Rachel has presented at the Autism Society of Alabama Conference, the Alabama State Occupational Therapy Conference, and the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference. Rachel was instrumental in the development and implementation of Focal Point, Child’sPlay’s intensive treatment program for the treatment of ADD/ADHD. Rachel is passionate about occupational therapy and loves helping her clients meet their full potential. Outside of work, Rachel and her husband advocate for children in the foster care system.
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Morgan Bernd Morgan Bernd

Morgan is a licensed and registered occupational therapist. She is originally from Huntsville, Alabama. She received her Bachelor of Science from Mississippi State University in 2014 and earned her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2016. She completed a pediatric fieldwork rotation at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and she also has

experience working with medically fragile children at a prescribed pediatric extended care facility in Meridian, Mississippi. She is excited to continue working with children at Child'sPlay Therapy Center to further her passion of working with children to help them achieve their highest potential. In her free time Morgan enjoys spending time with her husband, playing with her golden retriever, cross stitching, and hiking.
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Pam Bruner Pam Bruner

Pam Bruner, a licensed and registered occupational therapist, received a master's degree from UAB in occupational therapy. She has 20 years experience working with the pediatric population in the school, Early Intervention and evaluation/outpatient setting. Pam worked at Childs Play Therapy Center six years ago before taking a break to be a stay at home mom. She is excited to be back working with children and families.

Cristy Cherry Cristy Cherry

Cristy Cherry is a certified and licensed speech – language pathologist with over 10 years of experience working with both children and adults. Cristy graduated from The University of Alabama with her master of science degree in May of 2004. Since then she has worked in a variety of settings, including pediatric private therapy practice, hospitals, early intervention, and skilled nursing facilities. Cristy has specialized training and certification in the Beckman oral motor approach and Talk Tools to address oral motor weakness and in coordination which are underlying factors in articulation and feeding delays, Interactive Metronome and Integrated Listening Systems to address processing deficits, and Hanen “It Takes Two to Talk” and “More Than Words” to address early childhood language delays.

Emilee Cook Emilee Cook

Emilee Cook is a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist since 2008. She received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders degree from Auburn University in 2006. In 2008, Emilee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Alabama, where she received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. She completed her fieldwork at the University of South Alabama speech clinic, Dodge elementary school in Mobile, and the VA hospital in Birmingham. Emilee moved to Birmingham after graduate school and began her career as a speech-language pathologist.

She has worked at a skilled nursing facility with the geriatric population and at Brookwood Medical Center providing a variety of services to adults in the acute care and inpatient rehabilitation settings. Emilee enjoys working with clients of all ages with a special interest in apraxia and developing language skills. Emilee is certified in Vital Stim Therapy and is also an Integrated Listening Systems practitioner (also for home program). Emilee is certified in Interactive Metronome, certified in 'Talk Tools' oral motor program, and is a SpeechEasy provider for fluency and Parkinson's Disease.
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Maggie Cox Maggie Cox

Maggie is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Communication Science and Disorders. She received her Masters of Communication Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology at Auburn University in 2014. Maggie completed her clinical fellowship at University of Alabama at Birmingham Sparks Clinics, an interdisciplinary pediatric diagnostics clinic. Maggie has experience working with children of all ages in schools and private practice.

Her special interests include language disorders, articulation disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and other developmental disorders. Born and raised in north Florida, Maggie now resides in Birmingham with her husband and enjoys spending time with her family and dog.
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Cristal Cummings Cristal Cummings

Cristal Cummings is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapist and Certified Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. She has over 18 years of experience working with children and families. Cristal began her career as an in -home therapist and later became the lead therapist on an inpatient pediatric mental health unit. She is married to Christopher Cummings and has two daughters, ages 14 and 20. Cristal and her family enjoy traveling and playing with their family dog, Coco.

Deidra Davies Deidra Davies

Deidra is a licensed physical therapist. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Auburn University and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Florida.  She completed her pediatric internship at Madonna Rehab Center in Lincoln, Nebraska and has also worked in the adult orthopedic setting.  Deidra has worked with children in many settings including an integrated preschool for children with Autism and in the community as a case manager for children with a mental health diagnosis.  She is passionate about providing individualized care while making therapy fun and enjoyable. 

In her free time she enjoys hiking, playing the guitar and spending time with her husband and son. 
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Lauren Day Lauren Day

Lauren Day is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist. She received her master's and undergraduate degrees from Auburn University. Lauren interned at Children's Hospital in Birmingham, where she gained both acute care and outpatient pediatric experience. Lauren was employed by the public school system of North Carolina for 4 years. She worked with preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students with a variety of disabilities. Lauren is well-versed in articulation, fluency, and language therapy and enjoys working with parents to maximize their children's gains.

Lacey Ellis Lacey Ellis

Lacey Ellis is a licensed physical therapist. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. She began her work experience in Bradenton, FL working with children in a private outpatient clinic and through the school systems, as well as working with adults in acute care and inpatient rehabilitation. Since moving to Birmingham in 2013, she has continued to further her pediatric experience in both outpatient and inpatient settings, as well as through school systems and Early Intervention (EI).

Lacey is a Certified TheraTogs Fitter and has specialized training in Interactive Metronome (IM) and Integrated Listening Systems (iLs). In her free time, Lacey enjoys travelling, spending time with her niece and nephews, and cheering on the Tennessee Vols.
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Ali Ellott Ali Ellott

Ali Elliott is a Registered Dietitian with particular experience in the nutrition assessment and treatment of Pediatric patients. Ali's postgraduate fellowship emphasized clinical work with adolescents and children through the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) training program at UAB. Ali practiced clinical nutrition at Children's of Alabama where much of her work focused on Failure to Thrive infants, Feeding Issues, Weight Management and Disordered Eating. Ali furthered her experience working as a Medical Liaison with Nestlé - Gerber Maternal and Infant Nutrition Division.

She received extensive training and education pertaining to nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life (from conception to the child's 2nd birthday). Nestlé/Gerber exposed her to the most current and innovative science research associated with nutrition throughout childhood beginning with infancy. Using primarily evidenced based approaches and motivational counseling techniques, Ali provides nutrition therapy to Infants, Children and Adolescents at each developmental milestone. Ali recently became a Certified Lactation Counselor to best support the breastfed infant.
Ali is a wife and mother of two daughters. She enjoys swimming, outside activities with her family, and teaching Sunday School.
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Blake Franklin Blake Franklin

Blake Franklin is a Board Certified Music Therapist and is a member of the American Music Therapy Association. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Therapy at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He completed his internship at hospice Four Seasons Compassion for Life in Flat Rock, North Carolina. He is currently a contractor working in multiples facilities throughout the community ranging in children with developmental disabilities, adults with developmental disabilities, with older adults in facilities ranging from independent to memory care.

Merry Grace Harper Merry Grace Harper

Merry Grace is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist. She received her Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Merry Grace has experience working with children in a local school system, as well as experience working with adults in the inpatient rehab and acute care settings. In her free time she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and dog and traveling. Merry Grace is excited to be a part of such a wonderful team of therapists that share passion and joy for working with children.

Louise (Lulu) Heisler Louise (Lulu) Heisler

Lulu is a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist. She received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders degree from Auburn University in 1997 and her Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Sciences degree from the University of South Alabama in 1999. Lulu has experience working with infants, children, adolescents, and adults in the private practice and school settings, and at Easter Seals of Central Alabama. She enjoys working with clients of all ages with a special interest in language and literacy development.

Lulu is an Integrated Listening System (iLs) practitioner, and is trained in the multi-sensory Orton Gillingham approach to literacy and in Talk Tools oral placement therapy. In her free time she enjoys reading, sewing, and spending time with her husband cheering on their son's baseball team and their daughter's cheer team.
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Michelle Henderson Michelle Henderson

Michelle is a registered and licensed occupational therapist. She graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology before completing her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She loves working with children in a variety of pediatric settings including schools and at Child’s Play Therapy Center. She is certified to provide Interactive Metronome, Integrated Listening Systems (including home programming), Child’s Play’s Focal Point program and teach handwriting using

Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. Michelle enjoys cooking, playing dress up with her little girl and listening to live music with her husband.
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Cheryl Jackson Cheryl Jackson

Cheryl, a licensed and registered occupational therapist, received a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy from UAB. With over 25 years experience working with the pediatric population, she has enjoyed working with children of all ages and with a variety of diagnoses, needs and potential. She has worked in early intervention and in the school setting. She is a certified Interactive Metronome provider and is also trained as an Integrated Listening Systems practitioner. Having a tremendous love and respect for children, she is passionate about helping them be all they can be.

She considers it an honor to partner with parents to help their children succeed in reaching their goals. When not at work she enjoys spending time with her family, especially playing with her grand children. She is also very involved in her church and volunteer ministry activities.
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Mandy Kelly Mandy Kelly

Mandy Kelly is a certified and licensed speech and language pathologist. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders with a minor in English. She received her Master of Science in speech and language pathology, also at the University of Alabama. She has been practicing speech therapy since January 2003 with experience in geriatrics and pediatrics. She has previously worked in Early Intervention and outpatient therapy. She currently is contracted through Child'sPlay to work for a local public school system. Mandy is dedicated to serving children and their families to meet their maximum potential.

Laura Lee Laura Lee

Laura Lee is a physical therapist who has worked in pediatrics since 2005. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a master's degree in physical therapy in 2003. After graduating, Laura worked for a year and a half in the setting of adult inpatient rehabilitation. Laura then began her pediatric career at Children's of Alabama where she worked for 10 years in both inpatient and outpatient settings and in several clinics including down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and weight management. During her time as an inpatient therapist, she worked on a research project involving UAB's cystic fibrosis center which was published in three different medical journals. She has worked for Child's Play Therapy Center since 2015, primarily in the school setting, which she finds very rewarding.

Amy Moore Amy Moore

Amy Moore has been a licensed speech-language pathologist since 1998. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University in Communication Disorders, followed by a Master's Degree in Education specializing in speech pathology from Alabama A & M University.

Amy has worked with both children and adults in a variety of settings. These include long term care facilities, home health, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation clinics, preschool and elementary school settings, and early intervention. Amy enjoys working with children, and specializes in early intervention, language, and oral motor/feeding disorders. Amy provides services to Child'sPlay as an independent contractor.

Heather O'Neal Heather O'Neal

Heather is a licensed and registered occupational therapist. Heather received her Masters of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of South Alabama in 2005. She has worked in a variety of settings, but her passion is working with children and helping them achieve independence.

Heather has specialized training in sensory integration processing and is able to administer the Sensory Integration Praxis Test (SIPT). This test is considered the "gold standard" in sensory testing. She is also trained in Handwriting Without Tears.

When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two energetic boys.
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Allyson Pasternack Allyson Pasternack

Allyson Pasternack is the Clinical Supervisor of Speech-Language Pathology. She is a state and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist who has 15 years of experience in the profession. Allyson was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and relocated to Hoover in 2012 with her husband, son and daughter. Allyson graduated summa cum laude from Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus where she completed both her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

While attending the graduate program at LIU, Allyson also served as an adjunct professor, teaching undergraduate courses in Phonetics, Language Disorders in Children and Anatomy & Physiology of the Head and Neck. She received both academic honors and service distinctions upon completion of her Masters degree.

Prior to working at Child'sPlay Therapy Center, Allyson worked for 9 years in the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools in New Jersey, providing diagnostic and treatment services to preschoolers and school-aged populations with a wide range of communication disorders. Allyson's clinical interests include Language and Articulation delays/disorders, Apraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has a particular passion for working with children and adults who stutter. She has completed specialized training in Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) and has completed two levels of training in Talk Tools Oral Placement Therapy. She is also a certified SpeechEasy provider. Allyson is a past recipient of an ASHA ACE award for continuing education. She annually attends the State speech and hearing convention where she keeps on top of the latest research and topics in the field and continues her own professional growth and development in her areas of clinical interest. In her free time, Allyson enjoys playing piano, musical theater and being a Baseball Mom!
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Keisha Patterson Keisha Patterson

Keisha has specialized training and certifications in the following areas: Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding, Handwriting Without Tears, Interactive Metronome, and Integrated Listening System.
Keisha has experience working with children in the school system and outpatient clinic as well as experience working with adults in the acute care setting. In her free time she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. Keisha is thrilled to be a member of this team and pursue her passion of working with children.

Janet Simon Janet Simon

Janet is a licensed and registered occupational therapist. She completed her internship at T.K. Martin Center, a center that specializes in assistive technology and early intervention services, and the Mountain Brook School System. She graduated with a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy and Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She earned the Elizabeth Ann Davis Occupational Therapy Scholarship Award and the Cecile Clardy Satterfield Award for Humanism in Health Care.

Janet enjoys working with children of all ages and helping them reach their full potential and independence in their home and school environments. Her areas of interest include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Integration disorders, and genetic disorders. She has specialized training in the Handwriting Without Tears program, as well as the Therapressure Technique for sensory defensiveness. She is also a certified Integrated Listening practitioner. She is also certified in Interactive Metronome. Janet, her husband Eric, and daughter Victoria live in Hoover. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading mystery books, and running races for charitable causes in the community.
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Lindsay Vargas Lindsay Vargas

Lindsay Vargas is a certified and licensed speech language pathologist. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Auburn University where she received both her graduate and undergraduate degrees in Communication Disorders. Lindsay completed her clinical fellowship at Columbus Speech and Hearing Center in Columbus Georgia. Lindsay has experience working with children and adults in the private practice setting. Her specialties include articulation, early language, fluency and augmentative communication. Lindsay is certified in Integrated Listening Systems and Interactive Metronome. She is also trained in Talk Tools and Orton Gillingham.

Alicia Varner Alicia Varner

Alicia Varner is a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist. Her desire to become a speech-language pathologist came from her own experience receiving speech therapy as a child in elementary school. Alicia graduated Summa Cum Laude from Auburn University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and from Texas Christian University where she received her graduate degree in speech-language pathology. Alicia completed her clinical fellowship working for Cherokee County School District in 2011-2012. She has experience working with pre-school through adolescent aged children.

Her interests include phonology, pragmatic language, fluency, and working with bilingual/multi-cultural children. Currently, Alicia is contracted through Child's Play to work for a local public school system.
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Kelly Watson Kelly Watson

Kelly is a certified and licensed occupational therapist. She received her undergraduate degrees (B.S. in Psychology, B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Medical Sociology) and graduate degree (M.S. in Occupational Therapy) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Kelly enjoys providing occupational therapy in many different settings to people of all ages. She currently provides Early Intervention services to clients aged birth to three years throughout Jefferson County, after school therapy at Child’sPlay, and school-based therapy at a local high school.

She also works on an as needed basis with adult patients at a local inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Kelly is a staff member at a week long summer camp in Nauvoo, AL, for individuals with mental and physical disabilities; camp is what inspired Kelly’s passion for occupational therapy over 10 years ago. She is proud to be a member of Child’sPlay’s wonderfully supportive and exceptional team of practitioners. When she’s not providing therapy, Kelly enjoys baking for her friends, playing with her dog Belle, and watching movies.
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Brooke White Brooke White

Brooke White is the clinical supervisor for occupational and physical therapy at Child's Play Therapy Center. Brooke graduated from UAB in December of 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. Brooke began her career working with adults and started her pediatric work with children in 2000.

Brooke's pediatric experience includes Williamson County public schools and High Hopes Inclusive Preschool/ Outpatient Clinic located in Tennessee. She has worked with both preschool and school aged children. Brooke has worked with various diagnoses. She especially enjoys helping families and children with autism and sensory processing disorder.

Brooke has additional training in sensory processing using the therapressure technique, interactive metronome, therapeutic listening program, integrated listening system and Handwriting Without Tears. In 2016, she completed the Sequential Oral Sensory training taught by Kay Toomey and developed for children with feeding challenges. When not working, Brooke enjoys spending time with her husband, dog and horse. She volunteers at The Red Barn combining both of her interests: children with special needs and horses!
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Shelley Wyatt Shelley Wyatt

Shelley is a licensed and registered occupational therapist. She graduated from UAB with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2005 and earned her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2007. Shelley has experience working with children in the school system and private practice, as well as, the adult population in various settings. She has special interest in helping children with autism and sensory processing disorder and is trained in Integrated Listening Systems (iLs), Handwriting Without Tears and TalkTools. Her personal interests include reading, watching college football and spending time with her family.

Shelley Zepp Shelley Zepp

Shelley is a licensed and registered speech-language pathologist with over 16 years experience. She received her Bachelor of Science in Audiology and Speech Pathology from Florida State University. Shelley received her Masters of Science in Clinical Speech Pathology from Northern Arizona University. She has worked in clinical and school settings with most of her career spent in elementary schools. Her interests include articulation disorders, phonological disorders, and language impairments. Shelley loves working with children and seeing all the progress they are able to make in therapy. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and two children.