Meet Our Team
at Tumble N' Dots

Occupational Therapists

Avital Shuster, Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Avital Shuster

Clinical Director

Avital is the founder and clinical director of Tumble N’ Dots.

Shortly after graduating from the University of Southern California (USC) with a Bachelors and Masters degrees in Occupational Therapy, she began her work as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist at Irvine Unified School District.

Having completed post-graduate education and training in Ayers Sensory Integration and Feeding Therapy, Avital has been working with children since 2008 and has experience serving children with a variety of diagnosis in the clinic, home, school, telehealth, and community-based settings.

She specializes in using task analysis to develop goals and plans that support the child’s needs.

Avital believes in helping parents to focus on the strength and abilities of each child while incorporating behavior plans and strategies to foster success.

Avital is also the creator of OTPlan – an activity idea search engine for developmental activities

In her free time, Avital enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 young children, and her dog, going to the beach, hiking, and traveling.

Avital brings her love for children, understanding of parents struggling with a special needs child, and years of therapy experience to every session.

Laura Petix

Pediatric Occupational Therapist / Feeding Therapist

Laura is a pediatric Occupational Therapist who was born and raised in Southern California. She received her undergraduate degree in NeuroPsychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2010. She worked for the Psychology Department in the VA for several research studies focusing on bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in adults. Laura is a published author in 2 peer reviewed articles.
 
Laura got her Masters Degree from San Jose State University in Occupational Therapy. While there, Laura was the President of the Occupational Therapy Honors Society and did her research project on the effect of canine assisted therapy on Autistic children’s communication skills. She was hired at the pediatric clinic she did her internship at and remained there for 5 years.
 
Laura has taken advanced courses in: Feeding Therapy, Therapeutic Listening & Astronaut Training. Her therapeutic strengths include being able to build great connection with her clients, and getting creative with therapeutic activities.
 
Laura relocated back to Southern California and lives in Irvine with her husband, Mark and daughter, Liliana. Laura’s daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder and Anxiety, so Laura loves connecting with parents over the struggles and challenges of raising children with sensory needs. 
 
In her free time, Laura creates content for her online platforms where she shares bite-sized nuggets of educational information on sensory processing and other developmental skills in children.  It’s through her online presence that she realized how important parent education is to a child’s progress in therapy. She loves teaching parents and teachers the impact of sensory processing on learning and behavior in children. You can learn more from Laura on Instagram, @TheOTButterfly
Lichelle Fernando - Occupational Therapist

Lichelle Fernando

Pediatric Occupational Therapist / Feeding Therapist

Lichelle is a pediatric occupational therapist and feeding and swallowing specialist.  She received her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences in Canada before moving to Wisconsin where she received a Masters degree in Occupational therapy.  She has over 15 years of extensive experience working with a variety of diagnoses with the pediatric population.

The majority of Lichelle’s career has been at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles and Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago focusing on the complex medical needs of patients ranging in age from high risk neonates to young adults.  Lichelle’s specializations include developmental therapy, picky/selective eating, bottle feeding, transitioning to solid foods, and sensory and oral motor feeding challenges while looking at the whole child’s sensory, developmental and environmental needs.  Lichelle counsels families in providing strategies to foster positive mealtimes at home.

Lichelle has a passion to work with families closely to help their day run more smoothly.  She takes on a “holistic” approach looking at all areas that may impact a child’s ability to eat and carry on daily skills successfully.

Additionally, Lichelle has experience working in brachial plexus clinic, hand clinic, and specializes in splinting and providing hand therapy for a variety of upper extremity diagnoses in the pediatric population.

Lichelle has presented at OTAC, AOTA, and APTA national and regional conferences providing evaluation and treatment strategies for the pediatric population with feeding/dysphagia issues.

Lichelle is a native Canadian who successfully worked her way down to warm, sunny California where she loves to try new restaurants, attempt new recipes, entertain friends and family, and do anything fun that is active or inactive with her husband, two kids, and dog Bailey. 

Dr Angeline Hernandez - Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Angeline Hernandez

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Angeline is a pediatric occupational therapist who received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC). She completed her doctoral residency specializing in group programs for young children targeting self-regulation, mindfulness, and social-emotional skills at a private pediatric OT practice. 

Angeline has extensive experience providing therapy in both individual and group formats, targeting the areas of fine and gross motor development, sensory processing, self-regulation, and executive functioning. She has completed advanced training in Handwriting without Tears, the USC Chan Sensory Integration Continuing Education Certification program, and Social Thinking. Angeline values collaboration with all individuals who are a part of a child’s life, including caregivers, teachers, and other therapy professionals. She is passionate about providing family-centered care to promote a child’s participation in any of their occupations – including play, learning, and social interactions. 

In her free time, Angeline enjoys quality time with family, friends, and her pups, going to Disneyland, and yoga!  

Phoebe Yam

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Phoebe has been working with the pediatric population since 2012. She began volunteering to teach karate to children with special needs and then worked as a Developmental Specialist using DIR/Floortime. Phoebe graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with her Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2018 and her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2019. She completed her doctoral residency to pursue competency in animal-assisted occupational therapy and training dogs for animal assisted interventions. She conducted a literature review to understand how dog training and handling styles affect the human-animal relationship, animal welfare & well-being, and implications for practice.

Phoebe enjoys learning about each child’s motivations and uses a strengths-based approach to highlight each individual’s inherent abilities and interests to improve areas of need.

Phoebe is a proponent of lifelong learning and presents at local, state, and national conferences. Topics are related to standards of practice and competencies to strengthen the skills of healthcare and human service providers when participating in occupational therapy and animal assisted interventions.

In her free time, Phoebe enjoys eating, reading, baking, rock climbing, taking dog training classes and going to the dog beach with her dog, Summer.

Speech and Language Therapists

Christina Johnson

Speech Language Pathologist

Christina Johnson has been a licensed and ASHA certified speech-language pathologist for over 23 years.

She has been serving a largely pediatric clientele in her own private practice for the last 2 decades. Christina is a mother of 3 kids and is an avid runner and cyclist.

Christina earned her Master’s Degree in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton in l997. She also holds a BA in Communicative Disorders from CSUF and BA in Social Ecology from UCI. She is credentialed with a Clinical Rehabilitative teaching certificate in the state of California.

Christina has worked in a multitude of settings, such as acute hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, public schools, early intervention agencies and private practice.

Her professional experience includes the assessment and treatment of children and young adults presenting with a variety of communicative disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, language
processing disorder, phonological/articulation disorders, fluency disorder, childhood apraxia of speech, myofunctional/tongue thrust.
Christina’s clinical vision is to provide a family centered approach to therapy through evidenced based intervention for her clients, and education for caregivers to ensure the successful achievement of goals.

In her free time she also enjoys water sports and traveling with her family.

Physical Therapists

Ruta Madhav

Pediatric Physical Therapist

Ruta grew up in the Bay Area and received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from University of California at Berkeley in 2012. Her interest in physical therapy started at a young age, observing her mom as a Pediatric Physical Therapist. She followed those footsteps into a fulfilling career, earning her Doctorate in Physical Therapy, from Columbia University in 2015.

She has experience working with patients of all age groups but finds a special joy and love working with infants, toddlers, and children. She believes that movement has strength – it serves our mind, allows us to explore our environment, and brings happiness to our heart. She provides care to improve quality of life and overall wellness. Her Physical Therapy experiences include hospital based and private outpatient clinics.

She will be a student for life, constantly trying to further her knowledge. She has completed a yearlong course in manual therapy trained by Roland Lucas in 2019, and Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) courses for the Upper Extremity, Lower Extremity and Core in 2018-2019.

Ruta has over 7 years of experience with working with patients and their families to establish patient centered goals, to provide 1:1 care, to create a personalized treatment plan and approach. She is compassionate and respectful; and always has the patient’s best interest at heart. When not in the clinic she enjoys hiking, spending time in nature, making nutritious meals, and most of all spending time with her family and friends.

Administrative Assistants

Krystal Lopez

Office Manager

Krystal was born and raised in Santa Ana and received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Social behavior from the University of California, Irvine. Through high school, college, and post college she has been involved in multiple environments that focused on helping kids mature and develop. 

She has worked as an ABA therapist under the Center for Autism & Related Disorders and worked with many students with learning disabilities and other special needs at the Santa Ana Unified School District. With her involvement in these organizations as well as her personal experience, she has found a passion and love in nurturing kids. She sees the values in helping every child receive and learn the necessary skills to succeed in life.

She joined Tumble N’ Dots after volunteering and is now working on receiving a Masters in Occupational Therapy.

During her free time she likes to watch movies and have game nights with her family. She enjoys spontaneous adventures and spending time with loved ones. 

Julie M.

Office Assistant

Julie was born and raised in  Bergen County, New Jersey. She received her BA in Psychology from Rutgers university.

During her free time she likes to travel to new places, baking, and walks with her dog.

Ella S.

Office Assistant