Shirael Pollack, founder of Watch Me Grow Sensory Gym and Speech Language Center, is an experienced physical therapist who has devoted her career to helping children with a wide variety of physical and developmental challenges. Shirael received her Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Long Island University in 2002. After years of practice as a pediatric physical therpaist in both schools and home-based settings, Shirael created Watch Me Grow in January 2007 to realize her personal vision of what a sensory gym should be — a place where therapy was not just effective, but also fun for children to receive. In addition to managing Watch Me Grow‘s two full-service locations on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Gramercy, Shirael remains an active pediatric therapist, applying innovative and proven therapeutic techniques in her work with infants and school age children with neurological, developmental and musculoskeletal impairments. For her outstanding work, Shirael was recognized as an “Everyday Hero” on WPIX’s “Dr. Steve” show. In addition to her work as a therapist and manager, Shirael is very active with the National Autism Association NY Metro Chapter, currently serving as the Chair of its Fundraising Committee. Shirael also has two beautiful daughters, who are very proud of their Mommy.
Jacqueline graduated with her Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2011 from Ithaca College. Always having a passion for helping others, she knew she wanted a career in helping children and found OT was the perfect fit for her. Having many years of OT and PT as a child, Jacqueline uses her personal and professional experience to help children become the best version of themselves. Jacqueline has worked with children from 6 months to 18 years old with varying levels of abilities. She has experience in sensory integration, NDT, and feeding therapy. She has worked with children with ASD, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s syndrome, developmental delay and neurological and genetic impairments. She believes every child has a beautiful light inside of them and is lucky to be one of the people to help them discover it.
Kirsten Chod, MA, OTR/L
Kirsten is a senior occupational therapist at Watch Me Grow‘s East Village location. Kirsten received her Masters in occupational therapy from the University of Southern California in 2011 with a specialization in pediatrics. Throughout the years, Kirsten has had the opportunity to work in some world-renowned facilities around the country. These have included two children’s hospitals (working in inpatient, neuro-rehabilitation, and outpatient settings), and a DIR©/Floortime clinic. Kirsten has a wide range of experience and skill set and specializes in brachial plexus palsy, orthopedic and neurological conditions, development, and is a credentialed early intervention provider. Kirsten is passionate about working with children and their families and strives to empower parents and caregivers to embrace their child’s individual differences of development and sensory processing through supportive relationships. In her free time, Kirsten enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling and exploring new places, exercising, skiing, shopping, binge watching Netflix shows, cooking, and anything/everything that has to do with New Orleans!
Rita Armada-Lombard, MS, CCC-SLP, TSSLD, BE
Rita is the speech-language pathologist supervisor at Watch Me Grow. In addition to over-seeing the team of speech-language pathologists at the uptown and downtown locations, she works as a speech-language clinician and evaluator at Watch Me Grow‘s Upper West Side location. Rita graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and the Bilingual Extension Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University where she received training on bilingual language development in children. She holds her bilingual extension certification, and is licensed to work with children across the lifespan including Early Intervention as well as preschool and school-age children. She specializes in bilingual language development, early language development, articulation and phonological disorders, apraxia, specific language impairment, auditory processing disorder, stuttering and selective mutism. She enjoys seeing children improve their communication and educating families and team members on inter-disciplinary approaches to enhance speech and language from the therapy room to the classroom and beyond. Rita has lectured to clinicians and families on a variety of speech and language topics. She is fluent in Spanish.
Christine Hough is an Occupational Therapist practicing at Watch Me Grow‘s Upper West Side location since 2007. She received a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from New York University with a specialty in pediatrics. Christine has extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of children with a variety of neurological, developmental, and sensory regulatory disorders. Her experience includes work with children from birth to 21 years of age, in acute hospital care, mental health, home, and school-based settings. Christine uses a client-centered approach that addresses each child’s unique cognitive, emotional, and sensory needs to facilitate achievement of goals while maintaining a fun and supportive environment.
Sara Davoudi is an Occupational Therapist currently practicing at Watch Me Grow NYC on the Upper West Side as well as the East Village location. She attended University of Southern California where she received her masters in Occupational Therapy. She has experience working with early intervention, preschool and school aged children with developmental delays, sensory processing disorders and autism spectrum disorders in the clinic, home, and school setting. Sara also completed a clinical internship at Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center, an inpatient facility working with adults and adolescents with psychiatric needs. Sara enjoys creating a fun learning environment, providing the just-right challenge to promote growth and success.
Sabrina Shah earned her B.A. in Developmental Psychology with a double minor in Communication Disorders and Deaf Studies from The College of New Jersey. She received her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of the District of Columbia. She has over five years of experience evaluating and treating early intervention, pre-school to high school students with speech delays, language-based learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders in clinical, home, and public and private school settings. She has experience with therapy targeting: expressive and receptive language, language and literacy development, articulation, phonology, fluency, executive functioning, auditory processing, and social pragmatic skills. Additionally, Sabrina has experience working in adult inpatient rehabilitation and hospital settings. Sabrina is New York State licensed, ASHA certified, and PROMPT trained. In addition, she holds a Teacher of Students with Speech-Language Disabilities (TSSLD), Speech-Language Pathology license and certification in the state of New Jersey and a SLP/ K-12 Grade Level, Regular II License in the District of Columbia. She is a bilingual English and Urdu speaker who is creative and makes therapy fun. She strongly believes in a multi-sensory approach to therapy and constant communication between members on each individual child’s interdisciplinary team.
Maithilee Kadam is a Physical Therapist currently practicing at Watch Me Grow’s East Village location. She attended University of Pittsburgh where she received her masters in Physical Therapy. She has experience working with early intervention, preschool and school aged children with developmental delays, sensory processing disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Maithilee has experience working in various settings such as sensory gyms, home care and is a full time Physical Therapist at a Manhattan school during the day. She has taken several continuing education courses ranging from Pediatric functional strength to other sensory, gait and developmental programs. Maithilee enjoys practicing creative play therapy to maximize the child’s gross motor and functional skills.
Samantha Muscio is a caring and compassionate speech-language pathologist at the downtown location. She is New York State licensed, ASHA certified, and PROMPT trained. She received her Masters of Science (MS) at New York University and Bachelors of Science (BS) in Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware. Her clinical experience is with preschool and school age children who present with speech and language delays/disorders secondary to language learning disabilities, auditory processing issues, cognitive impairment, prematurity, autism, and genetic syndromes. Samantha hopes to help children break free of the frustrations and limitations of speech and language disorders. She uses language learning opportunities to teach functional and socially appropriate expression, understanding, and use of language. She collaborates with parents and members of the clinical team to address the “whole” child and promote carry over and generalization of skills.
Tara Wisbauer is an occupational therapist at the East Village location. She received her Masters of Occupational Therapy from the University of Scranton. Tara has fieldwork experience at Hershey’s pediatric outpatient occupational therapy clinic, as well as experience working with clients at a variety of different ages and diagnoses. Tara has worked with children both domestic and abroad to help them meet their occupational needs. She is so excited to join the Watch Me Grow team in order to establish personalized and creative care plans to help children reach their highest potential in a fun and supportive environment.
Talia loves working with children and helping to foster their development and growth. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Yeshiva University in 2011, she then went on to earn her Masters in Occupational Therapy from New York University in 2014. Talia has experience working with children, teens and adults with a wide variety of diagnoses and currently holds a full-time position at The Aaron School as a staff OT. She has advanced training in Interactive Metronome and Get Ready to Learn Yoga as well as experience running groups, providing Sensory Integration treatment, and using the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. Talia is excited to be a member of the Watch Me Grow staff and looks forward to supporting your children to promote their independence!
Vaishali is a Physical Therapist who specializes in Pediatric Neurology and earned her Masters degree at University of Indianapolis. She started her PT career in Mumbai, India, where she worked for over 2 years with children who presented with varied developmental and gross motor challenges, sensory processing issues, genetic syndromes, and cerebral palsy. She has continued to boost her experience in the field of Physical Therapy in the United States at Watch Me Grow‘s Upper West Side location. She enjoys working in a variety of settings including children’s hospitals, out-patient clinics, home therapy and schools. Vaishali has experience in orthotics to improve gait as well as assistive devices and equipment recommendation for community access. She applies NDT techniques to her treatment plans and strives to make exercises regimens playful yet functional for every child. She believes that working with children has not only been a wonderful learning experience but has also motivated her to be a well-rounded therapist.
When she is not working, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and photography. Also, she is a die-hard fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jimmy Fallon.