Joleen R. Fernald Pediatric Therapy Services is a private neurodiversity-affirming speech and occupational therapy practice supporting children and their families in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Dr. Jo and her team specialize in using the evidence-based model, DIRFloortime, in evaluating and supporting autistic individuals, children with Selective Mutism, and those with speech sound disorders like Childhood Apraxia of Speech, articulation, and phonological disorders. Dr. Jo enjoys offering professional development to families, clinicians, and educators, providing resources and strategies to promote regulation, engagement, communication, and social problem-solving.
What is Selective Mutism
SM is an anxiety-based disorder, which prevents children from speaking in certain settings or to specific people despite being able to talk comfortably with specific people in other situations.
Why I do What I do
I am passionate about supporting emotional regulation while strengthening individual differences such as speech/language challenges, sensory processing and motor difficulties, as well as visual spatial issues.
What Therapy Looks Like
My philosophy of therapy includes incorporating the family from the start. Caregivers are part of the session from the moment they come in the door. I follow the child’s lead to whichever therapy room he selects – the sensory gym, with swings, trampolines, and a crash pad; the arts/crafts room, with play doh, paints, crayons, and paper; or the pretend play room, with a kitchen, puppets, animals,books, and puzzles. Therapy goals are integrated into a child’s natural play to simulate typical development and encourage generalization to the child’s natural environment. Seeing children proud of themselves and confident in navigating the social world is why i love being a developmental and relationship-based SLP!