Occupational Therapists

At Feeding Friends our Occupational Therapists are skilled in helping children achieve their highest potential in the areas of fine motor development, visual perceptual, visual motor, sensory processing/sensory motor, and activities of daily living, including feeding and eating, dressing, and hygiene.

When your child might need a referral to Occupational Therapy

Melissa Deer, MS, OTR

Melissa is passionate about helping children of all abilities improve functional skills, and is committed to a family-oriented, multidisciplinary approach. She received an undergraduate degree in Psychobiology from the University of Evansville, and a master’s degree from the University of Indianapolis.   Melissa has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist since 2002, gaining experience in inpatient, outpatient, and early intervention settings (as a provider and evaluation team member).  She has additionally completed significant continuing education training in the areas of neurodevelopmental treatment (including the extensive NDT certification course in 2007), sensory integration, feeding (including SOS and TR-eat models), and oral motor intervention (Beckman Oral Motor certification course completed). Melissa has experience with a variety of diagnoses, including but not limited to: failure to thrive, dysphagia, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, autism, picky eating/feeding delays, developmental delay, brachial plexus injury, abnormal muscle tone, prematurity, sensory integration disorder, and many genetic conditions and syndromes. She can address concerns in the areas of oral motor/feeding skills, sensory integration abilities, muscle tone, and fine motor/visual motor skills in order to improve your child’s functional performance in everyday activities.   Melissa looks forward to helping maximize your child’s potential through fun and therapeutic activities!


Mariah Coble, MOT, OTR

Mariah graduated from the University of Indianapolis with her Master’s in Occupational Therapy. She is has been practicing in pediatrics since graduating and continues to grow in her profession through continuing education courses. She has First Steps home-based clients, and outpatient clients as well. Mariah specializes in feeding difficulties including sensory aversions, oral motor skill building, oral motor strengthening, oral progression from g-tube, and expansion in a variety of diet. Mariah also enjoys enhancing fine motor skills, coordination, strength, motor planning, sensory integration, spatial awareness, and visual motor skills in fun engaging ways to help increase independence in the child’s activities of daily living and routines. Mariah works with parents to set strategies in place that best fit both the child and the family in reaching the child’s goals.


Elaine Lewis, MS, OT

lewis-smallElaine Lewis, graduated with a Masters in Occupational Therapy in 1998 from University of Indianapolis.  She has been working with children in First Steps and outpatient pediatrics since that time.  She enjoys working with children and their families to help them reach their goals.  Elaine specializes in helping children with feeding difficulties, including mealtime anxiety, sensory aversions, texture progression, oral motor skills, and oral progression from g-tube.  She also enjoys working with children experiencing sensory processing concerns and fine motor delays and coming up with creative solutions and fun engaging activities for kids.  Elaine regularly attends continuing education to further her skills.


Anne McEvoy, MOT, OTR

Anne graduated from the University of Indianapolis with her Masters in 2016.  She has been working with kids since 2017.  Anne’s experience includes fine motor skills, oral motor skills, play skills, and sensory integration.  She has worked with a variety of ages and diagnoses, including but not limited to Down Syndrome, developmental delay, sensory integration dysfunction, ASD, prematurity, oral motor/oral sensory issues, and cerebral palsy.  Anne is an enthusiastic occupational therapist who is excited to inspire your child’s creativity and desire to be more independent while having fun!


Jamie Owings, OT

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Jaime graduated from The Ohio State University with her Bachelors of Science in Allied Health Professions Occupational Therapy, studied pediatric occupational therapy at the graduate level with a Research Fellowship at OSU and has over 23 years of experience working with the pediatric population as an occupational therapist.  Much of her experience is with children birth to 13 years of age in outpatient clinics and Early Intervention programs including First Steps of Indiana.  Jaime works closely with families and their children to address development of fine motor, oral motor and self- help skills. She has additional training with her Sensory Integration and Praxis Test Certification and embraces working with children with sensory integration and sensory processing concerns.   Jaime enjoys being part of the team of parents and other health professionals sharing knowledge and helping children obtain new skills.  Jaime serves First Steps of Indiana in Hamilton County and Marion Northeast.


Ashley Garrett, MS, OTR

shidler-smallAshley Garrett found her calling in life helping children develop and gain independence. Growing up both as a sibling to a special needs brother and as a former “first steps mom” and parent, Ashley values the importance of making therapy fun and part of a family’s daily routine. She has been working in pediatrics for ten years in a variety of settings including outpatient rehabilitation, school systems, and in the home. Her experience and training has focused upon sensory integration, fine motor intervention, handwriting, and oral motor and feeding issues. Ashley is Beckman certified for oral motor issues. She has worked with individuals across all ages and feels comfortable treating a variety of diagnosis including but not limited to Cerebral palsy, developmental delay, ASD & sensory integration dysfunction, ADHD, feeding difficulties related to oral sensory, oral motor, and dysphagia, issues related to prematurity, torticollis, trach/vent dependent, and other genetic disorders. Ashley serves both in Hamilton  & Tipton counties.


Jennifer Stephenson, OTR

Jennifer graduated from Indiana University with a B.S. in Occupational Therapy in 1995. She has worked in Pediatrics for over 20 years in both home-based and clinical settings. Her career began at Riley Hospital for Children which provided her with a strong foundation in pediatrics and afforded her the opportunity to gain expertise with a variety of diagnoses. At Riley, Jennifer was a member of the Riley Feeding Team, Traumatic Brain Injury Team, NICU Team and the Pediatric Rheumatology Team. Specialty areas include oral-motor and sensory-based feeding disorders; sensory processing disorder; neuromuscular disorders; chromosomal anomalies; fine motor delays and prematurity. Jennifer holds certifications in the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding, Wilbarger Protocol for Sensory Integration, and the Newborn Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP). Jennifer is the mother of three and appreciates the demands of family life. She strives to incorporate therapeutic intervention into daily routines in order to promote the success of the child and nurturance of the family.