Michele DeSimone

Clinical Director and Speech Language Pathologist

Our Director of Clinical Services and Founder of The Sensory Studio, Michele DeSimone MA, CCC-SLP, built the practice based on clinical foundations of teamwork with professional collaboration and mentorship in mind.  She holds a Master’s Degree from New York University in Communication Sciences & Disorders as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology & Audiology and is now one of ten students in the first cohort working toward a Doctoral Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Kean University.  Michele holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from The American Speech Language Hearing Association and is an active member of The Special Interest Groups in Speech-Language Pathology for Language Learning & Education, Neurogenic Communication Disorders, Craniofacial & Velopharyngeal Disorders, Issues in Higher Education, Administration & Supervision, Swallowing Disorders, School-Based Issues, and Global Issues in Communication Sciences & Related Disorders.  Mrs. DeSimone is licensed from the New York State Office for the Professions and holds a Teacher of Speech and Language Disabilities Certificate from The New York State Education Department, as well as a Speech Language Pathology Certificate from The New York State Department of Health.  Michele has extensive training in the treatment of pediatric motor speech disorders (including PROMPT and Kaufman Protocol Training), Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Peer Socialization Skills and Early Childhood Language Development.

Michele is very happily married and resides in Staten Island with her husband, five-year-old son and Boston Terrier, Rocco.  She enjoys traveling for work and pleasure, practicing yoga, and cooking for her family.

Michele DeSimone, Director of The Sensory Studio

Christine Fowler

Speech Language Pathologist

Christine is from Staten Island, New York.  In 2014, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology with a minor in Occupational Science from Ithaca College.  Christine then received her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Brooklyn College, one of the most competitive programs in the United States.  Her graduate school clinical experiences included pediatric populations in early childhood and preschool settings, as well as adults in an outpatient hospital setting.

Since graduating from Brooklyn College, Christine has been working for The Sensory Studio.  She has been servicing early childhood, preschool, and school-age children in both school and outpatient settings.  Christine has experience working with children with receptive and expressive language impairments, articulation and phonology disorders, language learning disabilities, developmental delays, fluency disorders, voice disorders, and autism.   She is trained in PROMPT therapy, which she incorporates into her assessment and treatment.  Christine also organizes and leads Peer Socialization Groups at The Sensory Studio.  She is passionate about providing child-centered intervention that includes play-based activities in naturalistic settings to increase engagement and generalization of skills.

Christine is licensed by the board of New York State, has her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities initial certification, and currently holds a Certificate in Clinical Competence from the Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  When she’s not in the office, Christine enjoys traveling, reading, taking her dog to the park, and practicing yoga.

Christine, The Sensory Studio

Samantha Cisternino

Speech Language Pathologist

Samantha received her Bachelor’s Degree from Kean University in Speech Language Pathology.  She then attended Brooklyn College where she completed an Advanced Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Samantha graduated with a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Long Island University- Brooklyn, with her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities initial certification.  She is trained in PROMPT therapy, which she incorporates into her assessment and treatment.  Samantha has enjoyed working with children of all abilities and is excited to continue to do so in the future.

Outside of the office, Samantha enjoys reading, outdoor activities, DIY projects, knitting, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.  She currently lives in Staten Island with her husband, Vincent, and dog, Bonnie.

Samantha, The Sensory Studio

Dominique Perk

Speech Language Pathologist

Dominique received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Speech Language Pathology through a five-year program at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Her graduate school clinical experiences include pediatric and adult rehabilitation, Aphasia, Cognition and Pragmatic Therapy groups, a public-elementary-middle school and High school in Scranton, PA, and Acute Care at Staten Island University Hospital.

After graduating, Dominique gained experience working as a speech therapist servicing school-aged children in school based and private clinic settings. She has experience working with children with receptive/expressive language impairments, articulation/phonology disorders, apraxia, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, autism, and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices.

Dominique values building a strong rapport with her clients and their family members. She also makes her sessions individualized, creative, and fun in order to enhance the therapeutic experience.

During her free time, Dominique enjoys traveling, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.

Nicole Ezzo

Speech Language Pathologist

Nicole is from Staten Island, New York.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree at Wagner College in Staten Island where she dual majored in Special/General Childhood Education and Psychology.  Nicole then received a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.  Her graduate school clinical experiences included Pediatric and Adult Rehabilitation Center, an inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation center at JFK Medical Center, and a public elementary-middle school in Guttenberg, New Jersey.

After graduating from Seton Hall University, Nicole worked as a home care early intervention provider servicing children from ages 0-3, and as a speech therapist servicing both pre-school and school-age children in a school-based setting.  She has experience working with children with expressive/receptive language impairments, articulation/phonology disorders, learning disabilities, apraxia, developmental delays, and autism.  Nicole is especially passionate about following a family-centered approach to therapy to increase generalization of skills and improving quality of life and communication outside of the therapy room.

Nicole is licensed by the board of New York State, has her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities certification, and currently holds a Certificate in Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.  Aside from being a Speech Language Pathologist, Nicole has a background in studying music, where she enjoys singing live at restaurants across Staten Island.  She is also an avid reader and CrossFitter who enjoys outdoor activities and spending her free time with friends and family.  Nicole currently lives in Staten Island where she is planning a wedding with her fiancé, Vincent. She is looking forward to working with you and your family to support growth in your child’s communication!

Nicole E., The Sensory Studio

Maria Kotsonis

Speech Language Pathologist

Maria graduated from St. John’s University with her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology.  She has her New York State licensure in Speech Language Pathology and earned her Professional Certificate as a Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD).  Maria also holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

Maria has experience working with pediatrics and adults in a variety of settings.  She has experience working in a preschool, an elementary school, home-based, and a private practice.  Maria is trained in PROMPT therapy and uses this approach extensively during her diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of clients.  She has experience working with clients with autism, language disorders, fluency, sensory-processing disorder, articulation disorders and voice disorders.

Maria, The Sensory Studio

Emily Brullo

Speech Language Pathologist

Emily received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology with a minor in History from St. John’s University and received her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from St. John’s University.  Her graduate school clinical experiences included pediatric populations in private practice and public schools, as well as with adults at an inpatient hospital setting.

Emily has extensive experience working with children who have autism, through her work in Early Intervention as well as in a school setting.  She has experience working with children with apraxia, expressive/receptive language impairment, pragmatic language impairment, articulation disorders, fluency, sensory processing disorder, autism, and feeding delays.  Emily is licensed by the board of New York State, has her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities professional certification, and holds her Certificate in Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.  She is trained in PROMPT therapy, which she incorporates into her assessment and treatment.  Emily is also trained in The AEIOU Systematic Approach to Pediatric Feeding.  She believes in providing child-centered intervention that allows for children to learn through play and generalize their skills outside of speech therapy.

When she’s not working, Emily enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her wonderful husband.

Emily, The Sensory Studio

Lauren Belenski

Speech Language Pathologist

Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University Maryland in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology with a minor in Italian Studies.  She then attended New York University where she received her Master of Science degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, including her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities Initial Certification

During graduate school, Lauren had the opportunity to work with both children and adults in a variety of settings throughout New York and New Jersey, including a pediatric and adult rehabilitation center, a pre-school, an early care & education center, a skilled-nursing facility, the NYU clinic, and the inpatient unit at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.  She also volunteered as a graduate intern at the American Institute for Stuttering where she collaborated with other speech-language pathologists in guiding group therapy for teenagers who stutter.  Additionally, Lauren has participated in research at both the undergraduate and graduate level related to Public Health as well as self-acceptance in individuals who stutter.  From these experiences, Lauren has developed her clinical skills working with children with expressive and receptive language impairments, articulation and phonology disorders, developmental delays, fluency disorders, and apraxia.

She recently joined The Sensory Studio in January and is completing her clinical fellowship in Speech-Language Pathology as a new member of the team.  Lauren is so excited to continue developing her clinical skills and expanding her knowledge while working in collaboration with other therapists at The Sensory Studio.  Outside of the office, Lauren enjoys cooking, playing piano, going on runs, and spending time with family and friends.

Melanie Lavides

Speech Language Pathologist

Melanie graduated from the University at Albany, SUNY with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Educational Studies. She received her Master’s Degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from New York University. Melanie has a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech and Language Hearing Association (ASHA), Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities Initial Certification, and is PROMPT trained.

Graduate school clinical experiences include pediatric populations (pre-k-elementary) and adults in an inpatient setting. Melanie has experience working with school age students with autism, expressive/receptive language disorders, and students who use Augmentative and Alternative (AAC) Devices.

Melanie enjoys baking cookies, watching Broadway shows, arts and crafts, spending time with her family, exercising, and listening to music.

Alexa Pearlmutter

Occupational Therapist

Alexa completed her Master’s Degree at the University at Buffalo for Occupational Therapy in 2014.  She graduated Magma Cum Laude and was a member of the Pi Theta Epsilon Occupational Therapy National Honor Society.  Alexa has been working as a Senior OT in a school setting with 14-21-year-olds, with a wide range of abilities, for the past four years.  She is excited to work with children of all ages to help them meet their goals, process environmental and internal sensations, and reach developmental milestones all while having fun engaging in meaningful activities.  Alexa is passionate about her job.  She loves to work with children and their families to achieve the best outcomes for their daily lives. Alexa is also a registered 200-hour yoga teacher on Staten Island and is trained in Yoga for The Special Child.  She loves to incorporate yoga into her sessions for her clients to experience all the positive benefits of self-regulation, breathing techniques, body awareness, motor coordination, flexibility, and mindfulness. When she is not working, Alexa loves traveling the world, participating in arts and recreation, and being creative in her own way.

Alexa, The Sensory Studio

Gabrielle Pucciarelli

Occupational Therapist

Gabrielle is a certified Occupational Therapist, born and raised in Staten Island. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from St. John’s University and later went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from New York University. Gabrielle has always had a passion for working with children in many different settings. She has experience working with children with a variety of diagnoses including, but not limited to: ASD, ADHD, sensory processing delays, emotional and behavioral challenges, and learning difficulties. Gabrielle finds the importance in taking a strength-based approach when treating clients, by focusing on what the individual enjoys and does well, rather than looking at their deficits. She is excited to be a member of The Sensory Studio, where she believes she can grow in her own profession while helping children to grow and function successfully in a variety of age-appropriate roles. In her spare time, Gabrielle enjoys cooking, spending time with family and friends, and traveling to new places.

Allison Smith

Occupational Therapist

Allison is an Occupational Therapist at The Sensory Studio.  She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in the field of Occupational Therapy from Sacred Heart University.  Allison’s occupational therapy career includes experiences with inpatient rehabilitation, the educational system, and early intervention.  Providing occupational therapy services within various settings has allowed Allison to deliver services to clients of all ages and needs.  She specializes in working with both the pediatric and adult populations with areas of concern ranging from physical, cognitive, and emotional delays.  Allison keeps up to date with new developments within the field of occupational therapy. In her free time, Allison enjoys reading, traveling to new places (near and far!), being outdoors, and staying as active as possible!

Allison, The Sensory Studio

Olivia Tierno

Occupational Therapist

Olivia graduated from Touro College with a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2017 with the highest academic achievement award and a DOE OT Scholarship Program recipient. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and Pi Theta Epsilon Occupational Therapy National Honor Society. Olivia has recently begun working with middle school aged children within the Department of Education with focus on ADL/life skills training, community integration activities, sensory regulation strategies, and visual motor and perceptual training. She strives to help children reach their full potential within an enjoyable, creative environment by collaborating with families. Olivia is a co-author on a published paper titled SPOTS: A Model for the Creation of Sustainable, Population-Based, Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Sites, that was accepted into the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress 2018. Olivia continues to play in competitive basketball leagues, loves to travel when she can, and spend time with her family.

MariaElena DiStefano

Occupational Therapist

MariaElena is an Occupational Therapist at The Sensory Studio. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences with a minor in Geriatric Wellness from Sacred Heart University. MariaElena then received her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Sacred Heart University. Her graduate school clinical experiences included pediatric populations in early childhood and preschool settings, as well as adults in an outpatient hospital setting.

Since graduating from Sacred Heart University, MariaElena has been working for New York City Board of Education. She has been servicing early childhood, preschool, and school-age children in both school and outpatient settings. MariaElena has experience working with children with a variety of diagnoses including, but not limited to: ASD, ADHD, sensory processing delays, Down Syndrome, emotional and behavioral challenges, and learning difficulties. She is passionate about providing child-centered intervention that includes play-based activities in naturalistic settings to increase engagement and generalization of skills.

When she is not working, MariaElena loves traveling the world, participating in arts and recreation, and being creative in her own way. She is excited to be a member of Rhythm Works, where she believes she can grow in her own profession while helping children to grow and function successfully in a variety of age-appropriate roles.

Dana Dellavalle

Occupational Therapist

Dana is a licensed Occupational Therapist, born and raised in Staten Island, NY. She attended Seton Hall University for both undergraduate and graduate school. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences, with a minor in Psychology in 2016, as well as a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2018. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, and was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi and the Student Occupational Therapy Association. Dana’s clinical experiences as an OTS included school based occupational therapy with elementary aged children, as well as working with adults in sub acute rehab. Her current clinical experience as an OTR includes working at a special needs preschool, providing early intervention home care for babies under the age of 3, and now becoming a member of The Sensory Studio team. In her free time Dana enjoys traveling, babysitting, photography, going to the beach, and playing with her dog.

Donna Blind

Occupational Therapist

Donna received her Master’s Degree from New York University in Occupational Therapy. Current licenses include both New Jersey and New York. She is currently working with children with developmental delays in the public school setting in Staten Island. She also has experience with children in early intervention in the home setting. Prior to that, Donna worked with adults in both acute care and rehabilitation in the hospital setting. Donna’s interests include painting, furniture repainting and diy projects.

Jaimie Delfino

Practice Manager

Jaimie, a graduate student at St. John’s University, is studying Speech Language Pathology at the Master’s level.  She has been interested and involved in the field for more than five years.  Jaimie excelled throughout her undergraduate education during her major field curriculum in Speech Language Pathology.  As an undergraduate student at St. John’s University she maintained a 4.0 GPA, Dean’s list every semester and was a Magna Cum Laude Bachelor’s Degree graduate in spring of 2017.  Jaimie has been awarded the highest rank within the Masters level clinic at St. John’s University, Queen’s campus.  She is an active member of the National Speech Language Hearing Association and has attended their National Annual Convention for continuing education two years in a row. Jaimie is a proven leader and emerging clinician in the field in her graduate education clinic and especially here at The Sensory Studio.  She is dedicated to advocacy for special needs children and all individuals with communication disorders.  In her personal life, Jaimie enjoys spending time with family and her two large dogs, Jax and Charlie.

Jaimie, The Sensory Studio

De’Anna Alston

Parent Coordinator

De’Anna is a proud Staten Island, New York native. She is an undergraduate at CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies and will graduate in June of 2020 with her Bachelor’s in Art & Gender, as she has proudly received the 2019 Dean’s List academic award. Once she graduates, she plans to continue her growth and expand with The Sensory Studio, as well as, potentially obtain a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy. In her spare time, De’Anna enjoys commuting into the city, painting, co-art directing and coordinating with peers on small projects, attending museum events, and going Kizomba dancing.

Desiree Adone

Facilities Manager

Desiree is an undergraduate student at St. John’s University, Staten Island Campus. She will graduate in May of 2019 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Since 2015, Desiree has been a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) and will be the president of the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. She has remained on the Dean’s list each semester while being part of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Eta Speech Pathology Honor Society, National Society of Leadership and Success and Omicron Delta Kappa- the National Leadership Honor Society. In the Fall, Desiree will begin her role as a Career Peer at St. John’s University to motivate other students to be confident with their resumes and to help other students find their career path. She plans on furthering her education and attending graduate school in the Fall of 2019 for Speech-Language Pathology. After graduation, Desiree plans on working with the pediatric population with various communication disorders. In her free time, she enjoys biking and spending time with her friends and family.

Julia Reitano

Finance Manager

Julia is a graduate student at Hofstra University studying speech & language pathology.  Julia has excelled throughout her undergraduate education and remained on the Dean’s List of exceptional students every semester.  Julia will further her education by obtaining her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology at Hofstra University.  She is a member of the National Speech Language Hearing Association and attended the 2017 American Speech Language Hearing Association Annual Conference with The Sensory Studio Team.  Julia has gained experience working and interacting with children through volunteer opportunities and with patients at The Sensory Studio.  She is eager to work as a Speech Language Pathologist with the pediatric population in the future.  In her spare time, Julia enjoys traveling and making memories with friends and family.

Julia, The Sensory Studio

Jackie DeCarluccio

Finance Assistant

Jackie DeCarluccio, an undergraduate student at St John’s University, will graduate in May of 2021 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology.  Once she graduates, she plans to obtain a Master’s Degree to continue her education in Speech Language Pathology.  Recently, Jackie became a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association at St John’s University.  She also participates in the Forever Friends club, which organizes events for children with special needs.  In her spare time, Jackie enjoys coaching a cheerleading team and spending time with her friends and family.

Nicole Sanchez

Billing Associate

Nicole attended the College of Staten Island for two years and is certified in personal financing. Once getting married in 2010, she welcomed her first child and began working at Mount Loretto. There she had the privilege of working with individuals who had varying degrees of developmental disabilities. In early 2013, Nicole began her three-year journey in Emergency Services as an EMT. Although loving the emergency aspect of care, she was still searching for a place of work that felt more like home and would be an extension of the life she shares with her husband and three young children. By 2018, she joined The Sensory Studio Team as Billing Associate. Here, she handles different aspects of the company’s finances and finally has a place to call home. She also enjoys availing herself to new experiences though traveling, new cuisine and meeting new people.

Alexa Devito

Service Coordinator

Alexa is a senior at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She will graduate in May of 2019 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She hopes to continue her education by attending graduate school for occupational therapy. Alexa is actively involved in school. She successfully balances her leadership roles in her sorority, achieving the dean list and working as a nanny for three young boys. She has always had a passion for working with the pediatric population and children with disabilities. While working at The Sensory Studio, Alexa hopes to advance her knowledge and gain experiencing in working with these populations. In her free time, Alexa enjoys spending time with friends and family, and trying out new and delicious food to post on her food blog!

Stephanie Livia

Service Coordinator

Stephanie is an undergraduate student at Kean University. She will graduate May of 2019 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Recreational Therapy. Come this summer of 2019, she will attend Kean University’s masters program for Occupational Therapy. Stephanie is a member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association on campus as well as the organization Love Your Melon and Operation Smile. She served as President of her sorority Theta Phi Alpha along with other leadership roles. Stephanie has remained on the Dean’s list and is a part of the Lambda Alpha Sigma Honor Society. While working at Sensory Studio, Stephanie completed fieldwork at JFK Hospital Inpatient Rehab and completed another fieldwork opportunity at Overlook Medical Center in Behavioral Health.  Stephanie has always held the pediatric population and children with disabilities close to heart. She attends a summer sleepaway camp every year called Camp Fatima for children ages 5-18 with various disabilities. In her free time, Stephanie loves new adventures, music and spending time with family and friends.

Kayla Circolone

PR Associate

Kayla Circolone is currently an undergraduate at St. John’s University and is majoring in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. She plans on obtaining a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology after graduating in May of 2020 with her Bachelor of Arts. Since her freshman year, she has maintained a spot on the Dean’s list, has been a part of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and the Honors Academy. She is an active member of the Student Ambassador Program and in numerous honor societies such as National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Eta and Lambda Kappa Phi. Kayla is also the proud recipient of the Vice Provost’s Research Award. Through various observations and volunteering opportunities, Kayla has gained experienced working with the pediatric population. She plans on working with this population in the future. In her free time, Kayla loves traveling, crafting, baking and spending time with friends and family.