By Georgetta L. Morque
From the time she was 10, Rachel Fleming knew she wanted to be an occupational therapist. As a young competitive gymnast in Atlanta, she broke her hand and became intrigued by the therapists who helped her.
Fleming never gave up her childhood dream and earned a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Georgia and then an M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University. It wasn’t until she worked at the Schenck School for students with dyslexia that she decided to dedicate her career to helping children. “It’s so rewarding to help them overcome obstacles and become more successful.”
Last year, Fleming moved to Rye after working for six years in pediatric OT in Brooklyn. Along the way, she earned additional certifications, including the Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction. Her clinical experience has covered a wide range of issues, from developmental delays and cerebral palsy to handwriting difficulties and social skills challenges. She now brings her wealth of knowledge to the Rye community through her practice, The Therapy Nest, offering in-home OT services to children of all age.
Fleming says working at homes enables her to be more engaged with families and better help parents help their children. She begins with an initial phone conversation to determine if OT is the best avenue for a particular issue. If it is, she does a comprehensive evaluation followed by a goal-setting plan.
From there on, she typically works with children twice a week, armed with a bag of “toys” and a schedule of activities. “Kids really love it and don’t know that it’s OT,” says Fleming, who tries to make the sessions fun. When she helps children challenge themselves and accomplish something new, she finds they are likely to try these activities on their own.
The two main areas of her work are Neuro-Developmental Treatment, which involves optimizing motor skills, and Sensory Integration Therapy, which involves techniques to improve sensory processing. Fleming works with many tools and offers a customized approach for each child. She also provides parents with activities and strategies to try at home.
Fleming offers a parent-child class, Tummy Time and Beyond at Rye Presbyterian Church, during which parents learn how to play with their babies to promote healthy motor skills and sensory skill development.
Rachael Abbott, who has taken the class with her 6-month-old daughter Stella, says: “You don’t realize how much you can do with a baby, and you see how much she or he enjoys the activities and benefits greatly from them.”
For struggling children and worried parents, Fleming is here to help. She enjoys her work, and living in Rye with her husband and their two small children, ages 2 and 9 months. For more information on her services, visit thetherapynest.com or call 222-1326.