Aaron DeNardo, OTR/L, is the founder, owner and director of The Giraffe as well as a treating therapist. He is in the process of building a dynamic, experienced team that will carry The Giraffe forward. The Giraffe team will ultimately be made of therapists that share in Aaron's values and vision.
Aaron DeNardo, OTR/L, CMT
Aaron completed the Occupational Therapy program at San Jose State University in 2002. For his first few years as an OT, Aaron explored working with different populations in a variety of settings. Then he discovered pediatrics and hasn't looked back since. He has been working as a pediatric OT in the South San Francisco Bay Area since 2004 in private clinics, public schools, and non-public schools. He specializes in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADD/ADHD regulation challenges, social challenges and learning differences.
Aaron uses a holistic approach, helping children become more aware of their bodies, thoughts, and emotions. Through the use of intense movement activities and creative games, Aaron supports his kids in developing gross and fine motor skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, mindfulness, and confidence. Woven deeply into his therapeutic style is the use of Non-Violent Communication (NVC). Aaron has been studying and practicing NVC for over 15 years along with many other personal growth techniques and approaches. NVC helps Aaron connect deeply with his kids so that they feel safe and understood. This place of heart connection facilitates and underlies all of his work.
Aaron has received training in the DIR/Floortime Model, Integrated Listening Systems, Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI), Rhymthmic Movement Training (RMT), Brain Gym, Bal-A-Vis-X, Interactive Metronome, SOS Approach to Feeding, HANDLE, Therapeutic Listening Program, Brazelton Touchpoints Approach, and Astronaut Training Program.
Margarita Gomez, MS, OTR/L, ANTMHP, RPF-I
Advanced Transdisciplinary Infant-Family
Mental Health Practitioner,
Reflective Practice Facilitator I
Margarita completed her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy at Tufts University in 2000 and has dedicated her career to working with children with special needs and their families. Since 2000, much of her experience has focused on Early Intervention (working with infants and toddlers from birth to 3 years of age), but she has also had the opportunity to build strong skills in pediatric orthopedics, neuromotor work and infant-family/early childhood mental health. She has enjoyed working in public clinic settings, schools, private clinics, and in homes and embraces both consultative and direct intervention models. She specializes in supporting the development of infants' and toddlers' global, social emotional and sensory processing skills and fostering their families' abilities to understand and facilitate their unique developmental experiences.
Margarita is passionate about serving children and their families, and puts 100% into everything that she does. She strongly values the principles of infant-family and early childhood mental health and recognizes that social and emotional learning is the foundation for all development. She firmly believes that forming trusting, collaborative, and respectful relationships with children and families is the first step in providing successful, high quality, and effective services. By partnering with children and families and engaging them in fun, movement-oriented, creative games and activities, Margarita fosters fine and gross motor development, self-regulation and sensory processing skills, and social skills that contribute to the child's sense of confidence and competence. Deeply rooted in the Brazelton Touchpoints Approach to working with families is reflective, family-centered, and relationship-based and recognizes that parents are the experts of their child and have critical contributions to make at every developmental stage.
Margarita is dedicated to furthering her knowledge and experience and to constantly growing her skills to support the children and families with whom she works. She has received training in the Brazelton Touchpoints Approach and is a member of Santa Clara County's Brazelton Touchpoints Training Team and is California Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) trained and trained to be a CSEFEL trainer. Margarita is a graduate of the Santa Clara County Infant-Family Early Childhood Training Academy and is a California Endorsed Advanced Transdisciplinary Infant-Family Early Childhood Mental Health Practitioner and Reflective Practice Facilitator.
MacKenzie DeLoren, BS/MS, OTR/L
Mackenzie fell in love with working with children with special needs in high school, and hasn't stopped loving this work since then. She completed her Bachleor's to Master's program in Occupational Therapy at San Jose State University in 2013. After internships in geriatrics, she returned to pediatrics, first as a school-based therapist working with people with disabilities ages 3 to 22, and then in a private clinic. She has received training in Handwritting Without Tears, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, the DIR/Floortime model, the Toolbox socio-emotional cirriculum, Reiki levels I and II, austim as a psychomotor regulation disorder (combining Neurologic Music Therapy and Sensory Integration) and Brazelton Touchpoints Individual Level Certified. She achieved her 200-hour certification for teaching yoga in February 2017, and is currently working with Reiki Master Kathy Lorenzato of UC Davis Medical Center to achieve her level III Reiki Mastery certification. She firmly believes that the relationship is the cornerstone of any therapeutic change.
therapeutic chang, the Toolbox socio-emotional curriculum, Reiki levels I and II, auti
Ann Brownstone, MSOTR, SWC
Ann is an occupational therapist with 20 years of experience in pediatrics specializing in sensory processing disorders, motor development, and learning challenges. She has worked in a wide range of settings treating many populations, including: premature infants in the NICU, children in schools with sensory motor and learning challenges, children with cochlear implants and other assistive hearing devices, and teenagers and adults with chronic pain and mental health challenges. Ann is an Advanced Practitioner and Advanced Trainer for Integrated Listening Systems internationally. Additional areas of extensive study and certification include Masgutova Neuromuscular Reflex Integration (MNRI), Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT), DIR/ Floortime Model, Brain Gym, SOS Feeding Approach, Yoga Therapeutics, Brazelton Touchpoints Approach, biofeedback for HRV coherence and motor control, and Handwriting Without Tears. Keeping in mind the principles of neuroplasticity, she prioritizes building relationships based on safety and trust and optimizing the power of creativity and play with her clients.
Karina Salenger, M.S.,OTR/L
For me, being an occupational therapist is much more than a job. It means showing up each day with understanding, perspective, patience, humility, flexibility, creativity and energy. Showing up in a meaningful way requires a commitment to being of service and to having integrity, as well as a commitment to personal self-care, wellness, mindfulness and reflection. In my practice, I use relationship and play to motivate the children I work with. I provide education, support, and encouragement to parents and invite them to engage in the therapeutic process at home. My preferred style of therapy is a child-led, adult-directed approach, however, I’m able to provide a safe, child-friendly structure as needed to alleviate anxiety and minimize avoidant behaviors. I specialize in movement-based therapy, incorporating reflex and sensory integration techniques and games that re-pattern the central nervous system. This re-patterning, or organization of the sensory-motor system, improves postural-awareness, sensory processing, fine-motor and gross-motor skills, self-regulation, social engagement, anxiety and attention. I have also developed a novel technique, using an adaptive pencil, which has been helpful to my clients for improving their handwriting skills. Since completing my master’s degree I have invested a lot in my professional learning, and continue to do so. Below are certifications* and/or areas of informal training I have received relevant to pediatric occupational therapy since receiving my master’s degree.
S.O.S. Approach to Feeding*
Interactive Metronome for Pediatrics and Adults*
Get Permission Approach to Feeding
Building Blocks for Sensory Integration*
Integrated Listening Systems (ILS)*
Postural and Dynamic Reflex Integration (MNRI)*
Positive Discipline Approach*
Trauma Informed Care*
Zones of Regulation
Social Thinking Superflex Curriculum
Handwriting Without Tears
Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome*
100 O'Connor Drive #14
San Jose, CA 95128