Colleen Hacker - Director & Occupational Therapist
Colleen is the owner and clinical director of The Sensory Gym. She has almost 30 years of experience in paediatric occupational therapy, and she is recognised as a master clinician both in the United States and in Australia. Colleen has extensive training in a multitude of areas related to paediatric occupational therapy and child development and believes that an eclectic approach allows for more individualised, holistic treatment to occur, tailored to each unique child, family and situation.
Colleen was educated in Texas and Virginia, holding a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Brach in Galveston, Texas and an advanced clinical master’s degree in Paediatric Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. Her career spans almost 30 years of practice in paediatric occupational therapy in settings including neonatal intensive care, early intervention, public schools, rehabilitation, public health settings, and private practice. She has focused her efforts in the field of sensory processing theory and treatment and is considered to be a leading practitioner in the field.
Colleen has had the opportunity to be mentored by leading clinicians in the field of paediatric occupational therapy. Her direct mentors include Patti Oetter, Pat Wilbarger, Julie Wilbarger, and Sheila Frick. She has also received extensive mentoring with Beth Osten and Sherri Cawn in the DIR® approach. Colleen has a passion for learning which allows her to provide the most effective, current, and meaningful therapy services possible to children and their families. Colleen feels very fortunate in her career path and attempts to “give back” what she has been given by ensuring that her staff has a high level of training and by participating with a network of Sydney-based therapists in monthly study group sessions.
Colleen’s real passion is being with the children. She recognizes the power of belief and the role it plays in making a difference in outcomes. She is committed to providing the highest quality of services possible to children and families. This quality extends to the clinic spaces she designs, to the quality of the staff she employs and trains, and to the level of continued learning she expects from herself and from her staff.
Lynette Burke - Director & Occupational Therapist
Lynette completed her training in Occupational Therapy in 1984 at San Jose State University in California after graduating with a degree in Psychology/Child Development from St. Mary’s College. Since that time she has practiced continuously, both treating and consulting in a variety of paediatric settings including Early Intervention programs, private schools, and private practice.
She is certified in the administration of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test and has extensive training in sensory processing theory and treatment interventions. Lynette is trained in the DIR/Floortime™ Model developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.D.
Lynette also has extensive training and certification in several auditory interventions including Auditory Integration Training, Therapeutic Listening™, Listening Fitness Training, SAMONAS Sound Therapy, Safe and Sound Protocol, Interactive Metronome, and Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention. In 2000, Lynette joined the faculty at Vital Links and began teaching courses developed by Sheila Frick, OTR on Therapeutic Listening™.
In 2002, Lynette and her colleague, Sharron Donnelly, MS, OTR, started a private practice (Advanced Pediatric Therapies, Inc) in Portland, Oregon that focused on providing a highly individualized, multi-faceted, and holistic treatment approach to ensure that each child’s needs were met. Part of the mission of the practice was also to provide education to the community regarding sensory processing theory and the most current treatment approaches through lectures, seminars, and workshops. To that end, Lynette has lectured in the United States to various parent groups and professionals on topics related to sensory processing theory and treatment interventions.
Lynette is now excited to join the team at The Sensory Gym and continue that mission by providing services to children and their families as well as mentoring other therapists. Lynette sees the possibilities open for every child and has a passion for helping those possibilities come to light. In addition to practicing in the clinic, Lynette continues to lecture for Vital Links here in Australia.
Hayley Robertson - Occupational Therapist
Hayley graduated from Sydney University in 2008. Hayley has always had a keen interest in paediatrics and working with children with special needs. Hayley is driven by the potential in each child, and helping them realise their best. She believes in individualised treatment approaches and helping the family maximise their children’s potential in every aspect of life.
Hayley is passionate and motivated about continuing her education. Hayley has a completed courses in sensory integration including “Getting Kids In Sync,” presented by Genevieve Jereb, “New Treatment Perspectives”, presented by Colleen Hacker, “Building Blocks for Sensory Integration Course” presented by Sheila Frick, “The Alert Program for Self Regulation” presented by Carla Cay Williams. She is also trained the Therapressure© Brushing Protocol, having completed “Sensory Defensiveness”, presented by Patricia and Julia Wilbarger. Hayley is trained in Therapeutic Listening©, Advanced Therapeutic Listening©, Quickshifts©, and Forbrain© under Sheila Frick. Hayley is also completed the following training: "Astronaut Training, A Sound Activated Vestibular Visual Protocol" by Sheila Frick; "Core Pathways To Self Regulation" by Sheila Frick; "Self regulation and Trauma" by Sheila Frick; STEP-SI Clinical Reasoning Course" by Tracy Stackhouse.
Hayley is also interested in early movement patterns and their impact on the child’s development. She has attended a course in the "NDT/Bobath approach to Oral Motor, Feeding and Respiratory Coordination" presented by Rona Alexander; "NDT and SI Play" with Lezlie Adler; "Current Concepts in NDT, NDT From The Head To The Toe; "Clinical Reasoning and Treatment Planning for Praxis" by Teresa May Benson; "M.O.R.E Course" presented by Eileen Richter and Patti Oetter; "5 Day Treatment Course" presented by Shelia Frick; "Anatomy Trains in Motion" presented by Julie Hammond and Mumu Morwitzer and; Kinesio Taping "KT1 and KT2" presented by Thuy Bridges.
Hayley is committed to a developmental approach in her work. She has completed her Infancy and Early Childhood Training Course - DIR®/Floortime™, presented by Dr Stanley Greenspan. She completed training courses with Georgina Ahrens, and Advanced Training Courses presented by Kathy Warmsley and Mari Caulfield. As well as Advanced Training Workshops facilitated by Beth Osten. As well as Conferences in Regulatory Sensory Processing, presented by Rosemary White and Stanley Greenspan, and Workshops on ‘Meltdowns’ and ‘Autism through the Lifespan’, presented by Stanley Greenspan. Hayley has also had the opportunity to be mentored by leading clinician in the field of DIR® approach, Beth Osten. More recently Hayley has trained in social thinking concepts including the ILAUGH model© for social thinking as well as training in social thinking assessment and core treatment strategies through Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke.
Anna Hill - Occupational Therapist
Anna graduated from The University of Sydney in 2010. Anna has always had a keen interest in paediatrics and gained experience working with children with special needs throughout her undergraduate studies. She completed a number of clinical placements in paediatrics, and was employed in a student Occupational Therapist position implementing home programs with children - Anna was inspired by these experiences and was highly motivated to continue working in the field of paediatric occupational therapy. Anna completed her honours research project on risk tolerances in children's everyday play experiences, and presented the findings from her study at the 2011 Occupational Therapy Australia National Conference.
Anna is committed to continuing professional development - she attended the “Sensory Defensiveness” course presented by Patricia Wilbarger and Tracey Stackhouse and is trained in the Therapressure© Brushing Protocol. Anna has also completed the course “M.O.R.E. - Integrating the Mouth with Sensory and Postural Functions”, presented by Patricia Oetter and Eileen Richter, and attended the “Focus on Treatment” workshop presented by Sheila Frick. In 2010, she completed the online course “The Traffic Jam in My Brain: A Sensory Processing Approach to Challenges Associated with Autism, ADHD, Learning and Behavioural Differences”, presented by Genevieve Jereb. Anna has also been mentored in the principles and concepts of “Listening with the Whole Body” (Therapeutic Listening®), and DIR®/Floortime™. Anna is excited to join the team at The Sensory Gym and looks forward to working together with children and families to help realise their full potential.
Elise Harley - Occupational Therapist
Elise joined The Sensory Gym team in October 2012, after graduating from The University of Sydney. Throughout her undergraduate degree, Elise successfully completed a range of paediatric based placements including private practice, community and education based settings.
Elise has worked with a variety of children including those with Sensory Processing Disorders, Autism, Developmental Delay, Learning Difficulties, Physical Disabilities and Intellectual Disabilities. She has a passion for working with children and helping them to reach their full potential. Elise aims to develop a holistic treatment approach that includes the child’s individual needs and interests. She endeavours to implement creative therapy sessions that maximise the child’s engagement to ensure therapy is as meaningful, fun and as effective as possible.
Elise is a highly motivated and enthusiastic member of the team and brings valuable knowledge and skills to The Sensory Gym. She values professional development and continually expands her skill base. Elise has undertaken a range of specific training and development courses in the areas of: “Picky Eaters vs Problem Feeders: The SOS Approach to Feeding”, “The Food Scientist Approach: Working with older children” and “The SOS Approach to working with the severely developmentally impaired child”, presented by Dr Kay Toomey and Dr Erin Ross. Elise has attended “The Traffic Jam in My Brain: A Sensory Processing Approach to Challenges Associated with Autism, ADHD, Learning and Behavioural Differences”, presented by Genevieve Jereb. Elise has also completed training in Therapeutic Listening®: “Listening with the Whole Body”, “DIR®/Floortime”™, “Current Concepts in Neurodevelopmental Treatment” presented by Lezlie Adler and “NDT From Head To Toe” presented by Lezlie Adler and Kate Bain. Elise receives regular mentoring by master clinicians Beth Osten and Tracy Murnan Stackhouse through staff development meetings and was honoured to co-treat with them during the “Clinical Dialogues” Workshorp.
Mukul Bhatnagar - Occupational Therapist
Mukul graduated with a Master of Occupational Therapy Practice from Monash University in June 2016 and joined The Sensory Gym® team in October 2016. Mukul developed a passion for working in paediatrics from the experience he obtained from his clinical fieldwork placements as well as coaching junior basketball and cricket.
Mukul strives to provide client and family-centred services and has a strong passion for working collaboratively with children/adolescents and their families. Mukul has diverse experience with children, including children with Sensory Processing Disorders, Autism (ASD), Developmental Delay, Learning Difficulties, Down Syndrome, Physical Disabilities and Intellectual Disabilities. He is strongly committed to helping all children progress therapeutically and loves to create an enjoyable and supportive environment to see them achieve success.
Mukul's enthusiasm for learning has provided him with many opportunities to develop his practice, including: The Traffic Jam in My Brain - Genevieve Jereb; The Alert Program® for Self-Regulation – Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger; Understanding the Vestibular System – Sheila Frick; Therapeutic Listening® Listening with the whole body - Sheila Frick and Lynette Burke; Eyesight to Insight- Mary Kwar and Dr Carl Hillier; The Healing Power of Your Hands: Craniosacral Therapy & Myofascial Release- Nancy Lawton-Shirley; Sensory Processing & The Brain: Using Neuroscience to support clinical reasoning – Dr Shelly Lane; Sensory Defensiveness, A Comprehensive Treatment Approach –Tracy Stackhouse and Julia Wilbarger; M.O.R.E Integrating the mouth with sensory and postural functions - Patricia Oetter and Eileen Richter.
Mukul attended Camp Jabiru’s 2017 practicum program in which he received mentoring and lectures around sensory integration, clinical reasoning and Therapeutic Listening from Tracy Stackhouse and Lynette Burke. Mukul has also coordinated the Beyond Jabiru program in 2017 and attended Camp Jabiru as a camp leader in 2018.
Lauren Wilson - Occupational Therapist
Lauren joined The Sensory Gym in October 2018 after graduating from Western Sydney University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Health Science/ Master of Occupational Therapy degree. Lauren has a background of working as an Occupational Therapist in hospitals and spinal injury rehabilitation; where she has worked with an array of different conditions and abilities.
Lauren has a keen passion for paediatrics and gained experience working with children with special needs throughout her undergraduate studies and postgraduate experience in hospital based settings.
Lauren is highly motivated to continue professional development completing courses such as Environmental Modifications with Sandy Light -foot Collins, M.O.R.E Integrating the mouth with sensory and postural functions facilitated by Patricia Oetter and Elieen Richter and Therapeutic Listening presented by Tracey Stackhouse and Lynette Burke.
Lauren believes in a holistic treatment approach where each child’s unique strengths and gifts are central to supporting them to reach their full potential.
Samantha Cahill - Occupational Therapist
Sam joined the Sensory Gym team in 2018 after graduating from Western Sydney University with a degree in Bachelor of Health Science/ Master of Occupational Therapy. Sam strives to provide a holistic treatment approach that is client and family centred, whilst ensuring each child’s strengths are central to the therapy, further allowing and empowering the child and family to reach their goals.
Sam has always had a keen interest and passion in working with paediatrics as demonstrated through her work as a Disability Support Worker and work for an Occupational Therapy based rugby program (Sense Rugby), during her studies. Throughout these roles Sam has gained experience working with paediatrics and teenagers with a variety of conditions including; Autism (ASD), Developmental Delay, Sensory Processing Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities, Down Syndrome, Visual Impairments and Physical Disabilities.
Sam completed her first year University placement at Camp Jabiru and returned as a volunteer each year throughout her degree. Sam has had mentoring from a range of experienced paediatric Occupational Therapists throughout her camp experiences and has gained experience with a number of therapeutic tools including the Therapressure Brushing Protocol and Therapeutic listening program.
Sam has a passion for ongoing professional development and has attended courses including; M.O.R.E Integrating the mouth with sensory and postural functions facilitated by Patricia Oetter and Elieen Richter. Sam will be completing the Therapeutic Listening course early 2019, presented by Tracey Stackhouse and Lynette Burke.
Savannah Abbott - Occupational Therapist
Savannah joined The Sensory Gym team in January 2019 after graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational therapy) from The University of Sydney, November 2018. During her degree she received of several awards including The Dean’s Scholar Award, The Indigenous Rotary Health Scholarship and the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship. Savannah strives to provide a evidence-based, client centred therapeutic approach to treatment, that considers the familial and culture needs of the client and their loved ones.
Savannah has always wanted to work in paediatrics. She has been a martial arts coach since the age of 14 and continues to practice the ‘Yes I Can’ attitude instilled in her from this practice. Savannah also had two paediatric fieldwork places in a private practice and in a rural primary school in Casino (located near Lismore). On her rural placement, Savannah designed and implemented the “Casino West Playground Project” a comprehensive three part plan to improve the play skills, sensory processing, classroom focus and playground aggression difficulties the school experienced. This program was successfully implemented and is continuing to provide school wide benefit over the last 18 months.
Savannah is also a proud Indigenous woman hailing from Merana and Dharug country. She has partnered with The University of Sydney as a Indigenous youth leader working in schools and educating children on pathways to University and wider success. She also volunteers yearly at the Wingara-Mura Barra Indigenous Summer Camp chaperoning and educating Indigenous youths from around Australia.
Since joining The Sensory Gym, Savannah has had the opportunity to pursue continuing professional development. Courses have include education on the DIR/ Floortime Model with Beth Osten, The Alert Program by Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger, The SPiriT Model with Tracy Stackhouse and The Therapeutic Listening course.
Shivank Sharma - Occupational Therapist
Shivank has been working as a paediatric occupational therapist since 2012. He has worked in a variety of setting including schools, special schools, hospitals, and private practice in India and Australia. Shivank enjoys working with a multidisciplinary team and parents to help children achieve their potential. He has worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing difficulties, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, and genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome and Fragile X.
Shivank is very passionate about Sensory Integration and neurodevelopment and is an advocate for early intervention. He has completed post-graduate training in Sensory Integration through the University of Southern Califormia. Shivank is motivated towards continuing his professional development to achieve excellence in practice. He has completed the following courses: Listening with the Whole Body by Tracy Bjorling and Sheila Frick; Building Blocks of Sensory Integration and Core Connections by Sheila Frick; Addressing SLEEP in Children and Adolescents hosted by Occupational Therapy Australia; and Decoding Autism and Seeing and Moving by Kim Barthel. Shivank has a deep passion for teaching and has been involved in lots of staff training over his career. Shivank believes in empowering children with life skills to help them "rise and shine."