Our Team

Dr. Michele DeSimone, CCC-SLP

Clinical Director and Speech Language Pathologist

Our Director of Clinical Services and Founder of The Sensory Studio, Dr. Michele DeSimone CCC-SLP, built the practice based on clinical foundations of teamwork with professional collaboration and mentorship in mind.  Michele holds a Doctoral Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Kean University. She obtained a Master’s Degree from New York University in Communication Sciences & Disorders as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology. 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.  Dr. 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, eight-year-old son,  7-month-old daughter, and Boston Terrier, Rocco. She enjoys traveling for work and pleasure, practicing yoga, and cooking for her family.

Jaimie Delfino, M.A CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Jaimie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University in Speech Language Pathology/Audiology in May of 2017. She then attended St. John’s University in Queens where she received her Master of Arts degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders in May of 2019. Jaimie holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is licensed from the New York State Office for the Professions. In addition, Jaimie holds a Teacher of Speech and Language Disabilities certificate from The New York State Education Department. 

During her graduate studies, Jaimie experienced working with both children and adults in a variety of settings including a District 31 public school, a skilled-nursing facility, and inpatient and outpatient settings within Northwell Health Medical Center. She also volunteered for Loving Spoonfuls’ ensuring the safety of elderly adults during feeding. Additionally, Jaimie has participated in research on patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) at the graduate level.  

 

 

Jaimie has been an integral member of The Sensory Studio team since December 2015 as Practice Manager. Since graduating from St. John’s University with her Master’s degree, Jaimie has become a valued member of our clinical team as a Speech Language Pathologist. Jaimie has developed her clinical skills working with both children and adults with receptive and expressive language impairments, articulation and phonology disorders, oro-myofunctional disorders, language learning disabilities, developmental delays, fluency disorders, voice disorders, and autism. 

Jaimie is eager and motivated to continue advancing her clinical skills within this field. In her free time, Jaimie enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering with the special needs’ community teaching horseback riding lessons. 

Christine Fowler, CCC-SLP

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. She is passionate about providing a 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.

Samantha Cisternino, CCC-SLP

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. Her graduate school experiences included pediatric populations in public elementary-middle school in Staten Island, New York, and a public high-school in NY, NY. Since graduating, Samantha has been working for The Sensory Studio. She has been servicing early childhood, preschool, and school-age children. 

 

Samantha has experience working with children with receptive and expressive language impairments, developmental delays, auditory processing disorder, articulation and phonological disorders, fluency disorders, Cleft-Palate Rehabilitation, autism, feeding therapy and behavior management.

She is trained in PROMPT therapy, which she incorporates into her assessment and treatment. Samantha values creating activities around a child’s interest to increase engagement and motivation. Outside of the office, Samantha enjoys being a mother, spending time with her family, being outdoors, and traveling. 

Lauren Belenski, CCC-SLP

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.  She also holds a Certificate in Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 

 

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. 

Lauren loves the collaborative environment at The Sensory Studio and has been able to continue developing her clinical skills through consistent teamwork with staff and therapists.  Outside of the office, Lauren enjoys cooking, playing piano, going on runs, and spending time with family and friends. 

 

Kristen Raskin, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Kristen is from Staten Island, New York. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from St. John’s University (Staten Island) in 2015 and her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from St. John’s University (Queens) in 2017. Kristen is dual-licensed in New York State and New Jersey, has her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities initial certification and currently holds a Certificate in Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Kristen’s graduate school clinical experience included pediatric and adult rehabilitation working in a variety of settings including Acute Care, Skilled Nursing, Inpatient Rehabilitation at JFK Medical Center, Outpatient Pediatrics, and Elementary and Middle school experience.

 

 

 

Kristen has gained experience working with children with receptive/ expressive language impairments, articulation/ phonology disorders, developmental delays, autism, and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. She is trained in PROMPT therapy, which she incorporates into her assessment and treatment.

Kristen spent time in Antigua, Guatemala working hands-on with infants, children and young adults diagnosed with swallowing disorders in a hospital/ orphanage located in Guatemala. Outside the office, Kristen enjoys traveling, listening to country music, spending time with family and friends, and exercising.

Emily Camacho, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Emily received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from St. John’s University Staten Island Campus in 2017. She continued her education at St. John’s University and received her Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology in May of 2019. Emily holds a Teacher of Speech and Language Disabilities certificate from The New York State Department of Education as well as a Certificate of Clinical Competence from The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


Emily has gained experience during her graduate degree and clinician work with both pediatric and adult populations within various settings such as a private clinic, medical center, nursing home, and District 75 public school. Emily is eager to continue working with the pediatric population and families to develop effective communication skills. Outside of the office, Emily enjoys spending time with her friends and family, mastering new recipes, and traveling. 

Tifani Natale, M.S. CCC-SLP

Tifani received her Bachelor’s Degree from St. John’s University in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology with a minor in psychology. Tifani then went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders: Speech Language Pathology at Adelphi University. Her graduate school clinical experiences include working with the pediatric population and adults in a variety of settings including a District 31 community school, a private preschool and two private clinics. 

Since graduating Tifani currently works in a District 75 school, providing services to children with autism spectrum disorders, significant cognitive delays and sensory impairments. Tifani works at The Sensory Studio part time servicing early childhood, preschool and school aged children. Tifani has experience working with clients with a variety of communication and developmental disorders including, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), articulation deficits, phonological deficits, phonemic awareness deficits, expressive/receptive delays, pragmatics, and augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC).

Tifani strives to help clients maximize their potential using a team approach by collaborating with families and other members of the interdisciplinary team. In her spare time, Tifani enjoys spending time with family and friends, bike riding and spending time with her dog.

Victoria Valdes, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Victoria is from Staten Island, New York. She attended Marywood University in Scranton, PA enrolled in their 5-year Communication Sciences and Disorders program. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2017 and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2019. During her graduate school clinical experience, Victoria worked in both a public school setting and in an adult rehabilitation center. She has experience working with a variety of diagnoses including learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down’s Syndrome, speech disorders/deficits, and language disorders/deficits. Victoria has her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities certification and currently holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association. She is also first level trained in PROMPT (PROMPTS for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) and plans to continue her training to become PROMPT certified.

Erica Haber, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Erica holds a Master’s Degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from New York University. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Language Pathology/Audiology from Saint John’s University. Through her graduate internships and career experiences, Erica has provided speech therapy to individuals across the lifespan in preschools, elementary schools, private practices, subacute rehabilitation facilities, and remote tele-therapy instruction.  Additionally, Erica worked as an Applied Behavioral Analyst (ABA) para-professional for school aged students in both homecare and social skill group settings. This has provided her with specialized skills to foster behavior management and self-regulation skills. 

Diona Rosano M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Diona received her Bachelor’s degree is Communicative Sciences and Disorders at St. John’s University in Queens in 2016. She then received her Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology at Monmouth University in 2018. Diona holds a Teacher or Speech and Language Disabilities certificate from The New York State Department of Education and a Certificate of Clinical Competence from The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Diona has gained experience during her graduate career with pediatrics and adults within the school setting and nursing facility. Diona has worked with children in the school setting with students with autism, down syndrome, phonological disorders, and language impairments

Meghan Ahearn, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Meghan is from Staten Island, New York. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders with a minor in Deaf Studies from SUNY New Paltz. Meghan then attended Long Island University Post where she received her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, as well as her Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities Initial Certification. Meghan also holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Her graduate school experiences included working in a variety of settings, such as a Great Neck elementary public school and an adult rehabilitation facility. More recently, Meghan has worked with elementary and middle school aged children in private and charter schools on Staten Island.

Gabrielle Pucciarelli, OTR/L

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 of taking a strength-based approach when treating clients, by focusing on what the individual enjoys and does well, rather than looking at their deficits. At The Sensory Studio, Gabrielle continues to 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.

Jessica Blakaj, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Jessica is originally from Saratoga Springs, NY. She graduated with honors from The State University of New York at Buffalo in 2011, receiving both her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Science and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.  Since graduating, Jessica has worked in a variety of pediatric settings including a pre-school, inclusion-based school, pre-vocational setting, and residential setting. She also spent time working at The Center for Discovery, a center of excellence facility for the advanced care and medical treatment of individuals with significant disabilities, medical complexities, and autism spectrum disorders.  She has advanced training in Autism Spectrum Disorders, SOS Approach to Feeding, DIR Floortime approach to therapy, primitive reflex integration, Swim Angelfish Aquatic Therapy, Handwriting without Tears, sensory integration, and assistive technology. 

Gabrielle Perk, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Gabrielle attended Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science with a minor in Psychology. She then obtained her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy through a five-year program. Gabrielle excelled throughout her program receiving top honors in her graduating class. She is a member of Pi Theta Epsilon, The National Honor Society for Occupational Therapy.

Gabrielle’s graduate school clinical experiences included working with pediatrics, adults, and geriatrics in a variety of settings: Outpatient Pediatrics at The Sensory Studio, Elementary Schools, Outpatient Rehabilitation/Hand Therapy at Staten Island University Hospital, and a Stroke Clinic.

 

Gabrielle has experience working with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Developmental Delay, Learning Disability, Sensory Processing, and Emotional Regulation.

Gabrielle values helping her clients achieve their goals through individualized sessions. She uses her client’s interests to make her sessions fun and motivational. During her free time, Gabrielle enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, fishing, and snowboarding.

Additional credentials: Certified personal trainer with American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Jenna Caputo, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Jenna received her Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a Minor in Social Work from Seton Hall University in 2009. She continued her education at Seton Hall University and received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2011. Jenna has gained experience during her graduate degree and clinician work with both pediatric and adult populations within various settings such as private clinics, public (District 31 and 75) and private school systems, hospitals and nursing homes. Jenna is eager to continue working with the pediatric population and families. Jenna’s goal is to bring happiness to each child she works with while improving their independence in all areas of daily living. She always strives to do her best with each child and advocate for their every need. Outside of the office, Jenna enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing with her two boys, shopping and going to the beach.

Jessica Bartanowitz OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Jessica is originally from Miami, FL where she received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology at Barry University in 2014. She continued her education in Brooklyn, NY where she received her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Long Island University in 2020. Her graduate school experiences include pediatric populations in a special education school in Manhattan, NY, as well as The Sensory Studio. Other graduate school experiences include adult populations across multiple settings, such as inpatient and outpatient hospitals, and senior community facilities. Since graduating, Jessica has continued her love of working in the pediatric setting, currently working in a private school and sensory gyms on Staten Island with pre-school and elementary aged children.

Sarah Kuzmina OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Sarah is a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from SUNY New Paltz. After working as a paraprofessional for a District 75 public school, she found her passion for pediatrics. Sarah went on to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from Long Island University where she graduated with honors. During her graduate studies, Sarah spent time working with both adults and children in many different settings including: public elementary schools, a sensory gym, school-based teletherapy, acute care and inpatient rehabilitation. Additionally, Sarah volunteered at the Inspiration Center in Belize where she worked collaboratively with other occupational therapists, physical therapists, and a pediatric neuropsychologist to treat children with various diagnoses as well as fabricate splints. She has experience working with children with ASD, ADHD, emotional and behavioral challenges, developmental delays, and sensory processing disorders. 

Amanda Neglia Tietzer, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Amanda received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Sacred Heart University in 2008 and continued on to receive her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2010. Since graduating Amanda has gained experience by working full time and as a traveler in a variety of settings for both pediatric and adult populations including: In-patient Rehabilitation, Acute Rehabilitation, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Home Health and Pediatric Clinics.

Rachel Haber, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Rachel is a certified occupational therapist who hold a Master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Scranton as well as a Bachelor of science with a concentration in human development. She has worked with individuals in various settings such as neurological rehabilitation for spinal cord and brain injury, outpatient hand therapy, adult vestibular therapy, and pediatrics, providing experience that has offered her a specialized skill set for treating across the lifespan. She is passionate about thinking outside the box to improve the functionality of her treatments to foster occupational engagement and independence. She has also taken courses to further increase her ability to treat sensory and behavioral dysfunction.

Alexa Devito

Practice Manager 

Alexa graduated from a Fairleigh Dickinson University 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!

Taylor Pizzolo

Parent Coordinator 

Taylor graduated from Mount Saint Mary College in May of 2019, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Criminology. She hopes to continue her education in the near future by working towards a Masters degree in the field of psychology. Taylor is an active member of the Psi Chi, International Honors Society in Psychology. 

She enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, as well as actively advocates for the mental health community through social media platforms. While working at The Sensory Studio, Taylor hopes to become more knowledgable about the pediatric population, as well as help create a happy and healthy experience for all those who attend. 

Brianna Somma

Parent Coordinator

Brianna graduated from Kean University in May of 2020, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus of Occupational Therapy. During her time at Kean, Brianna maintained a spot on the Dean’s List and was an active member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association. Brianna has a love for learning and hopes to continue her education to become an Occupational Therapist. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, exercising, being outdoors, and going on walks with her golden retriever, Tucker.

Nicole Sanchez

Billing Manager

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.

Stephanie Livia

Billing Assistant

Stephanie is a graduate student at Kean University studying Occupational Therapy. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Recreational Therapy from Kean University in May 2019. 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 The 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.