Meet the Playworks Team
We are very selective about the therapists we hire and each member of our team draws on their extensive experience and comprehensive professional training to individualize therapy for each child.
Our team is comprised of speech, OT, and PT professionals with a total of 75 years of professional experience. This ensures your child has access to a broad and deep set of expertise so they have the best chance of success.
Here’s a brief introduction to the Playworks team . . .
Our director, Patti Wilson, earned a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Arizona State University with a focus on early intervention. Before that, she earned a Bachelor of Arts from James Madison University in 1994. She is also trained in PROMPT therapy (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic targets), Beckman Oral Motor Therapy, the Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson Approach, and the Floortime model. Before Playworks, Patti practiced Early Intervention for 6 years in the private sector and 2 years in the Virginia public school system.
Clinical Director, Occupational Therapy
Becca is an Occupational Therapist who loves finding moments of connection and joy in her work with families and children of all ages. She is a DMV native who studied Early Childhood Education and Business at Skidmore College and received a Masters in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. She has worked in a variety of pediatric settings including private clinics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, public and charter schools, and 0-3 early intervention services. She has training in Sensory Integration, the SOS approach to feeding, Interactive Metronome, reflex integration, infant massage, self-regulation, vision, Torticollis, and Kinesio taping. She has experience working with children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Anxiety, Developmental Delays, Brachial Plexus Injuries, feeding challenges, and NICU grads. Becca believes strongly in the power of play and relationships to help children build on their strengths and thrive in their daily lives. In her spare time Becca enjoys exploring new parks with her 1-year-old daughter and cooking from her CSA.
Katie is a DC area native and has over 30 years of experience as a pediatric physical therapist. She received a Masters of Science in PT from Sargent College of Allied Health Professions at Boston University. Katie has worked in acute care, outpatient therapy and early intervention. Katie has been certified in Neuro-Developmental Treatment and has been a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists. She has taken many continuing education courses in the management of cerebral palsy, kinesiotaping, casting/splinting, orthotics and the importance of play in development. She continues to have very close relationships with doctors and orthotists from her many years practicing at Children’s National Hospital in DC. She has experience treating children with torticollis, plagiocephaly, developmental delay, genetic syndromes, cerebral palsy, orthopedic injuries/conditions and NICU graduates. In her free time, she enjoys visiting the Virginia shores of the Chesapeake Bay and sailing, boating and eating crabs!
Sydney is originally from Grenada, Mississippi. She received both her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Mississippi. She completed her graduate externship at United Ability in Birmingham, Alabama where she gained clinical experience working with the pediatric population in both a preschool and outpatient clinic. She has clinical experience working with children with articulation, language, and developmental disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. Since joining the Playworks team, Sydney received a "crash course" in delivering therapy through a Telehealth platform :). She has excelled at using online resources and creative games while screen sharing with her clients. Sydney completed informal Floortime training and Social Thinking Curriculum training with Michelle Garcia Weiner in the Fall of 2020.
Emily grew up in Weston, Connecticut. She earned her Master’s degree in Speech-
Language Pathology from George Washington University, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences from the University of Maryland. Emily started graduate school virtually due to the pandemic, so she is experienced in providing therapy through virtual platforms as well as in-person! Emily is passionate about working with children of all ages, and her enthusiasm makes sessions fun and exciting for her clients. She believes that it’s important to capitalize on a child’s strengths, and that every child deserves to learn the foundational tools to
communicate! Her love for working with kids was enhanced when she worked as a
Teacher’s Aide at a preschool while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree. She gained clinical experience through her graduate externships, where she worked in a public school as well as at a school for individuals with developmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down’s syndrome. She especially loves providing therapy for clients with expressive / receptive language disorders, social communication disorders, and articulation disorders. In her free time, Emily enjoys traveling, cooking, and playing with her dogs.
Jillianne (Jill) is an occupational therapist originally from California. A California native, she received her Masters and Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from University of Southern California in 2015 and 2016 respectively. She has had experience working in pediatrics in the clinic, schools and in home setting with an emphasis on young children with developmental disabilities and feeding difficulties. Jill’s practice emphasizes the DIRFloortime approach with occupational therapy. She believes strongly in the power of relationship for child development and how it is strengthened in child centered play activities. Because of this, she emphasizes family and caregiver collaboration in her practice. She has additional training in feeding/oral motor therapy, neurodevelopmental treatment and sensory integration which has supplemented her therapy skills.
Kendis has been practicing speech language pathology since 1995 when she earned her Master of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has extensive experience with articulation and language therapy with the preschool and school aged populations. Kendis has additional training in PROMPT (Propts for Restructuring Oral Motor Targets), Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program, and Therapeutic Strategies to, Help Children with Asperger Syndrome. Prior to returning to the States this summer, Kendis had been working in international schools where she gained experience working with diverse populations and teaming with physical and occupational therapists to provide maximum support to severely impaired clients. Kendis returned to Playworks after a 5 year tour overseas. Her last three years were spent in New Zealand working for an innovative program that addressed the needs of high-risk preschoolers with speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and early intervention teaching all under one roof. This experience of co-treating across disciplines was an amazing learning opportunity and a valuable contribution to her twenty five years of experience in pediatric speech therapy.
Riah is a pediatric speech-language pathologist who loves helping individual clients find their own voices by looking at the whole picture for evaluation and treatment. She received her Bachelor of Arts in both Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Scripps College for Women in Claremont, CA, and her Masters of Science in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. Riah loves working with children and their families to tailor evidence-based treatment strategies to a child’s preferences and family needs to provide functional communication goals. She has more than six years of experience with Autism spectrum disorder, executive function disorders, motor speech disorders, AAC (augmentative and alternative communication), early intervention, and feeding and swallowing. Riah loves using play to connect with client’s and to build relationships for collaborative success. When she’s not in the clinic, Riah is usually found outside enjoying nature with her own family or reading books. She loves camping, hiking, and investigating new playgrounds, National Parks, and trails.
Gabrielle "Gabby" Spinella
Gabrielle (Gabby) is a graduate of the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also received her bachelor’s degree. She is originally from Long Island, New York but lived in Charlotte North Carolina for a long time. She has experience working with autistic children. Gabby is skilled at addressing speech / language needs, social and emotional development, and improved executive functioning. She has clinical experience working on articulation, pragmatics, receptive and expressive language, and fluency. She has worked in early intervention, schools, home health, as well as rehabilitation settings. She is experienced with both in-person therapy and telehealth. She also has experience with Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) which she incorporates into functional contexts within play and other forms of therapy. She believes therapy is not “one size fits all” and that each child is an individual with their own strengths, interests, and needs and highly values family integration in therapy.
Alyssa "Aly" Barker
Alyssa “Aly” moved from Northern California to join our team. She received her clinical doctorate from Samuel Merritt University following her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from CSU Monterey Bay. Aly’s first exposure to occupational therapy was from a camp designed to help kids with varying disorders discover newfound independence and expand their abilities as they learn to adapt to the wilderness. She gained clinical experience during her fieldwork in an outpatient clinic, most commonly treating feeding difficulties, sensory integration, and self-regulation. She believes interventions should be challenging, playful, and achievable to increase self-esteem and integration into the family’s routine. Aly is excited to live in the DC area and spend her spare time traveling, hiking, and eating crab.
Rebecca grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. and has lived in Alexandria, VA since 2010. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Goucher College, she returned to New York City where she earned a dual certification graduate degree in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Bank Street College of Education. Rebecca has taught at independent schools in NYC and Northern, VA where she has worked with children with learning differences and developmental variations. Rebecca uses a play-centered approach to develop a young child’s cognitive and social skills. She believes that learning is most meaningful when children are active participants in the process. She works towards that goal through individualized, developmentally sensitive, hands-on activities. Building a caring and supportive relationship with a child and their parent/caregiver is a central feature of Rebecca’s approach. Through individualized play sessions, Rebecca forms an understanding of a child’s strengths and vulnerabilities from her perspective as an early childhood educator. Along with her professional knowledge, Rebecca understands the joys and challenges of parenthood. She and her husband have three young children (plus one active puppy!). Along with her professional affiliation, her oldest child has developmental differences and she is also a Playworks parent.
Tiffany is a native of New Jersey. She received a bachelor's degree from New York University in Speech Language Pathology and graduated with honors with a master's degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Kean University. She is trained in the PROMPT treatment method for those with motor speech disorders like apraxia or dysarthria, as well as certified in Hanen More Than Words which focuses on helping caregivers build functional communication skills with children diagnosed with Autism. Throughout her career, she has gained experience in a variety of settings with populations spanning from infant to adult. Most recently, she has provided services to children severely impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder and utilized an interdisciplinary approach to best serve this population. She has presented on Engagement Through Play at the SHAV (Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia) Convention. Her areas of interest include language-based learning disabilities, speech sound disorders, and facilitating social-pragmatic development, most specifically with pediatric populations. She practices based on the quote by Lev Vygotsky, " A child's greatest achievements are possible in play."
Originally from DC, Kristen lived in New Orleans for more than a decade and recently returned to the DMV with her family. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University and her Master of Communication Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Kristen has experience with both pediatric and adult populations in the school, clinical, and hospital settings. She has worked extensively with children in the areas of articulation, phonology, fluency, and receptive/expressive language disorders. Kristen is dedicated to staying up-to-date on current research and earned an ASHA Award for Continuing Education (ACE) in 2021. She thrives on building relationships with children and their families to provide individualized, play-based interventions. In her free time, Kristen enjoys reading, traveling, and playing with her three young children.