Meet Our Team
Kristi Nguyen OTR/L
Owner & Exective Director
Kristi Nguyen, OTR/L is the founder, owner and executive director of OT-Kids, LLC. Kristi is a licenced occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics and sensory integrative therapies and has recieved advanced certifications in numerous therapeutic modalities realted to her field. A graduate of Quinnipiac University in 2002, she has practiced in school and clinic based settings since the beginning of her career, working with children of all ages and abilities. In 2015 she was approached by a team of local pracitioners to help open a transdisciplinary therapy center in Fairfield Connecticut. The Harbor Light Therapy and Social Center opened its doors in December of that year with OT-Kids as the occupational and physical therapy provider. In 2018 Kristi opened the doors to her newest office in Stamford Connecticut, a sate of the art sensory center providing occupational and physical therapy.
Specializing in sensory motor, fine motor, visual/vestibular and auditory based treatment approaches, Kristi is best known for her energetic and creative approach to working with children with sensory processing disorders, developmental disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In 2008 Kristi was awarded with Handwriting Without Tears Level 1 Certification. She is an expert in the area of fine motor development, pre-writing and handwriting skills and interventions and the creator of The Write Stuff, her first self owned business providing homebased handwriting intervention to children in lower Fairfield County. Kristi consults with many local pre-schools and elementary schools and trains teachers on how to introduce Handwriting Without Tears into their classrooms. In 2008 Kristi was awarded the Creative Classroom Mini Grant by the City of Stamford Chamber of Commerce, allowing her to create a handwriting program for children in grades K-5 in the Stamford Public Schools who were struggling with handwriting mechanics but did not otherwise qualify for special education intervention. She worked closely with district administrators to create and implement this program throughout the Stamford Public Schools as they adopted the Response to Intervention (RTI) approach. In 2010 she recieved certification in the Vital Links Therapeutic Listeing program and currently designs and implements home based listening programs to compliment a childs therapeutic intervention. In 2012 Kristi furthred her expertise in the area of auditory programming and intervention when she became trained and certified in the use of Integrated Listening Systems method (iLs) and even further when she recieved her certification in the use of the iLs Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP).
In 2015 Kristi was the driving force behind the creation of a playbased Kindergarten program at First United Methodist Nursery School in Stamford Connecticut. Her dream of creating a developmentally appropriate play based kindergarten for her own son took flight when she presented her idea to the board of the nursery school and they expressed their interest in collaborating on the creation of the program. The FUMNS Kindergarten opened its doors to Kristis son and 13 other children in 2015. Kristi continues to be involved in the kindergarten classroom at FUMNS and consults weekly in the classroom coordinating their handwriting program and offering support services to the students.
In 2018 she was recognized by Melissa & Doug Toys as a “Pro of Play” and was featured as their first blog post for the Pros of Play series on their website and blog (ENTER LINK). Kristi supervises and moderates fieldwork programs for students at Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University and Columbia University.
Erika Garvey, RPT
As a mom of 3 young children and a Pediatric Physical Therapist, I absolutely love watching kids grow, change and learn every day. Their energy and perseverance is what gives me the inspiration to help them along the way. I enjoy working with children to help them achieve their unique goals while making it playful and fun.
After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2001, I have worked in a variety of pediatric settings including school-based physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and clinic-based therapy. I have had the privilege of working with several therapists, teachers, administrators, pediatricians, neurologists, orthopaedists throughout Fairfield County and during my time working at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. I have experience working with children from birth through young adulthood, with diagnoses including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy, Torticollis, Osteogensis Imperfecta, Arthrogryposis, Rett Syndrome, as well as a variety of congenital and genetic disorders. I have worked with many different vendors on adaptive equipment including wheelchairs, standers, walkers, etc and orthotists on bracing and prosthetics.
It's a joy to see the freedom that comes from a child being able to move their body, either by rolling, crawling, or taking their first steps. I'm truely fortunate to be a part of that journey every day.
Caitie Nesi, OTR/L
I began my college studies as a physical therapy student but quickly realized that my passion and interests were best suited to being an occupational therapist. I was fortunate to be able to enroll and graduate with honors from Quinnipiac University with a Masters in Occupational Therapy.
Throughout my life I've always had a special place in my heart for inclusion. Even in high school I was involved in a program that paired students together from regular education and special education, that allowed us to spend part of our days together to help both with facilitating friendships along with helping navigate the day to day challenges of being a student with special needs. I've always enjoyed working with children, and sought opportunities to develop my skills relating and engaging them by babysitting and being a camp counselor for more than 10 years.
Now, by working alongside Kristi and building upon my occupational therapy experience, I get to collaborate with speech and language pathologists, ABA therapists, and physical therapists. I'm passionate about sensory integration and reflex integration. I see the impact these foundational skills have on a child's social and emotional development. I am continually seeking out continuing education on these topics and have completed training and education with the following courses:
MNRI Reflex Integration
Dynamic and Postural Reflex Pattern Integration
Vital Links: Therapeutic Listening
Swim Angelfish Totally Treatment
Stephanie Tantimonico, COTA
"I graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in Social Work, but shortly after beginning my career as a social worker, I realized that my true calling was in occupational therapy and I decided to return to school to further my studies toward a career in OT. I graduated from Mercy College in 2017 with my occupational therapy assistant degree and my career in pediatric occupational therapy began. For over a decade, I have worked closely with the Greenwich Special Olympics, specifically the ice skating and swimming programs where I have the opportunity to watch and assist children and adults in achieving their dreams". Stephanie lives in Trumbull with her husband and when not working or volunteering with the Special Olympics, Stephanie can be found outdoors enjoying her favorite hobby, running!
Nikki May, OTR/L
I am thrilled to be joining this amazing team of therapists. I've been working alongside Kristi and the team at OT-Kids for years, initially as a student, but now as a registered and licensed occupational therapist after graduating from Quinnipiac University with Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy.
Throughout my life I have been fortunate to work with children of all ages. My mother was the director of a preschool program here in Stamford and I spent many days there helping the teachers with their programs and activities. I learned to be able to engage with children in a playful way, which allowed them to put their trust in me. It was there that I was introduced to occupational therapy and was able to see how it changed a child's life. Watching a child accomplish a task or activity that he/she has been working diligently on, is one of the greatest pleasures of being an OT.
I've feel lucky to have become a part of this amazing team of pediatric development specialists. I look forward to working with each child, and the satisfaction of helping them achieve every task they set for themselves.
Tara Buckman, OTR/L
Home Based Sessions
I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy. I have been working with individuals with special needs for over 19 years, 11 of them as an OT. During my career I have worked in a variety of settings including both public and private school as well as in pediatric outpatient clinics. I have also dedicated time to educating occupational therapy students as part of their fieldwork experience for many years for colleges and universities across New England. I specialize in supporting individuals with sensory processing difficulties and I am passionate about working to help others live happy, independent and fulfilling lives.
Jane Hickey, OTR/L
I first became interested in pursuing a career in occupational therapy when I entered my freshman year at the University of New Hampshire. It was there that I first learned about the profession from a friend. I was immediately inspired by the difference that an OT can make in a persons ability to interact with the environment, learn and do the things they love to do! My passion for working in pediatrics began during my pediatric fieldwork rotation when I had the privilege of learning and working in a school based setting. One of the greatest rewards of being a pediatric Occupational Therapist is the ability to help children engage in their occupations through activities that just seem like play!
I am honored to be part of the OT-Kids team and having the opportunity to expand my knowledge through collaboration with the team of fantastic OT's, PT's, SLP's and the children we support!
"Coach Mike" Elsmore
Motor Coach/Bike Riding Instructor
Fairfield, Stamford & Homebased
I began my journey in health, wellness and pediatrics in 2002 as a certified personal trainer with The National Academy of Sports Medicine. During the year 2007 I began teaching children, starting as early as 4-months up to 12-years old. I worked building not only their gross and fine motor skills, but their social-emotional and play-skills. I used creative gymnastic activities in an educational environment to help foster self-confidence through play. I understand the connection between the body and the brain. By providing fun and engaging movement activities, I help children develop a better sense of their body as well as proper emotional, cognitive and social development.
I enjoy collaborating with specialists, including both occupational and physical therapist. Under their supervision, I’ve carried out therapuetic coaching sessions that incorporate reflex development, gross-motor skills, and fine-motor acquisition. I have extensive experience carrying over listening programs within the clinic setting, using a variety of auditory systems. I’ve also worked alongside some of the top speech and language pathologist, psychologist, psychiatrist and behavioral therapist in the Fairfield County area since 2012.
I have a love for sports and being outdoors. While I may not be the best bike rider, I have a passion for teaching children of all levels how to ride a bike. I feel like there is no better feeling than the freedom you feel when riding.
I am an advocate and a friend to all children. And because of this, I am able to challenge kids to try their best, even when it seems impossible. I try to instill the lesson of time to children; that it often takes time to succeed and accomplish their goals, but that anything worth attaining takes time. And I always guide them find their own path to success.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to be working with Jane and I’m looking forward to collaborating with this dynamic team of therapists.