• Deanne Anderson, MS, OT/L, SIPT – Owner
  • Lauren Coughlin, MS, OTR/L, SIPT – Clinical Director
  • Sarah Bengtson, MOT, OTR/L – Lead Clinician
  • Brooke Bochese, MOT, OTR/L – Media Specialist
  • Jessica Tuthill, BS, OTR/L
  • Maeve Denning, MS, OTR/L
  • Kristen Sutton, MOT, OTR/L
  • Carrie Carroll, COTA/L
  • Laurie Ekwall, COTA/L
  • Chris Bachand, OTA/L – Life Skills Program Coordinator
  • Beatriz Lopez, COTA/L
  • Veronica Saavedra, COTA/L
  • Leah Cheshire, COTA/L


  • Jenna Niles, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Haley Gustavson, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Christine Hedberg, MS, CFY-SLP
  • Grace Pelletier, MS, CFY-SLP
  • Debbie Kleinrock, MA, SLP
  • Andrea Pascariello, MA, CCC-SLP
  • Christine Robinson, MS, CCC-SLP


  • Elsa Kniffen, PT, DPT
  • Sarah Zahner, RPT


  • Nichole Brown – Practice Manager
  • Laurie Dupree – Billing Coordinator
  • Taylor Anderson, Front Office Administrator


  • Get Set Go, LLC (Sue Carey, MS, OTR/L, SIPT)

Occupational Therapy Staff Bios

Deanne Anderson, MS, OT/L holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Quinnipiac (College) University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Central Connecticut State University. Deanne is currently an adjunct faculty member at Quinnipiac University and a consultant at Goodwin University supporting development of the THINK College initiative for students with intellectual disabilities. Her areas of specialty include neurological dysfunction, visual and cognitive impairment, executive dysfunction and educational advocacy. She has worked extensively with clients with neurological deficits. This includes feeding strategies, cognitive dysfunction, and visual, perceptual and motor dysfunction. She enjoys collaborating with families and school districts to support students in transition and advocating for students’ needs in public and private school settings.  

Deanne is a registered Advanced Therapeutic Listening practitioner. In addition, she is certified in Sensory Integration Treatment and Evaluation. She has worked in a variety of practice areas which include home health care, acute care, and rehabilitation across the age span. She brings over thirty years of clinical and practice management experience to Creative Development.

Deanne has authored a chapter for a book on multidisciplinary rehabilitation and she has written several articles for OT Advance, the national magazine for the American Occupational Therapy Association. She has presented on a variety of topics including:  Pediatric Concussion Management, Visual assessment and Intervention, and Coping with Covid for Caregivers. She also co-authored a study and presented her findings of the use of Universal Design for Post Secondary Learning. 

Kumar, and Kumar, Shrawan. Multidisciplinary Approach to Rehabilitation. Boston ; Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000. Print.

LaRocco, Diana J.; Anderson, Deanne; and Archambault, MaryJo, “Universal Design for Learning in Postsecondary Settings: One Faculty Member’s Journey Toward Making Learning Accessible for all Students” (2013). NERA Conference Proceedings 2013. 3

Lauren Gillis Coughlin, MS, OTR/L earned her Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy from University of Hartford and she earned her post-professional Masters of Science degree in occupational therapy from Boston University. Lauren specializes her occupational therapy practice in pediatrics using a holistic, child-centered approach, utilizing the child’s inner motivation as a guide for therapy. Lauren believes in a family centered approach where parent/family carryover and participation is key to helping the child become more independent. She has experience working with children of all ages from infancy through age 21 and has worked in various private pediatric clinics, Connecticut Birth to Three, pediatric home care, various school districts and acute care settings. In addition to practicing for almost 20 years, Lauren brings over 10 years of practice management and clinical supervision experience to Creative Development.

Areas of research interest are autism and social participation; sensory integration; the promotion of normal development in infants and how development affects the child’s ability to effectively play and learn; and prevention of becoming a picky eater and feeding development. Lauren has provided both community consultations and several community presentations in these areas. She is also currently an adjunct faculty member for Goodwin University’s OTA program and teaches their pediatrics course.In addition, Lauren is an adjunct faculty member at Quinnipiac University. She takes pride in acting as the liaison for various colleges. Lauren supervises multiple Level II occupational therapy fieldwork students yearly. Teaching and collaboration with the community are extremely important to Lauren. She has assisted with developing many different collaborative community partners during the time Creative Development has been opened and feels that collaboration is vital to a child’s success in becoming independent.

She has co-authored a chapter on Therapeutic Listening in the Schools as well as written pediatric practice exam questions for the OT assistant national exam.Lauren is a registered Advanced Therapeutic Listening provider and is certified in sensory integration treatment and administering/interpreting the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT).

Lauren is a registered Advanced Therapeutic Listening provider and is certified in sensory integration treatment and administering/interpreting the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT).

Sarah Bengtson, MOT, OTR/L earned her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Bay Path University. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Southern Connecticut State University. Sarah enjoys working with the pediatric population using a holistic approach to best provide for her clients and families. She  collaborates as part of a transdisciplinary team to ensure carryover and generalization of skills for her clients. Sarah also represents Creative Development, LLC within a variety of community settings by working with clients in their homes, school, or other community programs. She has experience completing evaluations for durable medical equipment and assessing the home for modification. She has experience with children of all ages and with a variety of diagnoses such as sensory processing disorder, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, developmental delay, various genetic syndromes, and Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as children who have difficulties with feeding, social skills, and self-regulation. She has experience working with a variety of programs or protocols within her sessions and is certified in Therapeutic Listening. She has become a mentor to OTR and OTA students, providing supervision and guidance during their clinical fieldworks. In her free time, she enjoys playing hockey, cooking, and taking her dog on hikes.

Brooke Bochese, MOT, OTR/L earned her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Quinnipiac University. With a focus on holistic medicine, Brooke explored both pediatric and older adult populations within outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, and psychosocial group therapy settings. During her time as a student, she also adopted her mantra that “everyone has their own lens to view life, so it is important to embrace the diversity within each viewfinder.” This particularly guided her as she found her way to be an occupational therapist at Creative Development, LLC where she works with children and adolescents of varying abilities to gain the appropriate tools and strategies they need to independently participate in their daily activities. Brooke greatly values the importance of the little moments as they impact the bigger day to day activities.

Focusing on the little moments began during Brooke’s dancing career at All the Right Moves Dance Studio in Norwich, CT.  Brooke pursued active roles in the dance studio, from dancer to student assistant to being a teacher for children ages 3-6 years old. Whether it was successfully landing a pirouette turn herself, helping a friend learn how to shuffle-ball-change, or encouraging a young dancer to stand on stage during recital, those moments mattered to her. Brooke’s dance experience and occupational therapy experiences further developed her interest in expression, movement, and living for the little moments in life. Brooke became certified in Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, which allows her to combine her skills as an occupational therapist and as a dance teacher to assure children and adults of all abilities can learn and enjoy the freedom of movement and expression that dance brings. She is also certified in Therapeutic Listening. Brooke continues to spread light to her clients and students with a goal to let them lead a more creative, more confident, and more independent life.

Jessica Tuthill, BS, OTR/L earned her Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy from the University of New Hampshire and comes with over 15 years of clinical experience in a variety of settings including; acute care, subacute care, school systems,  and private clinic. She has a passion for treating the pediatric population with experiencing in treating children ages birth to 21.  She has worked in school systems and in the private clinic settings with a motivation to help all children attain their highest level of independence across all contexts.  Jessica has experience in collaborating with a variety of professionals within the community in order to provide her clients with a multi-disciplinary approach.  In addition to treating part time in the clinic, Jessica has helped to educate school professionals and local physicians on the importance and role occupational therapy  and its impact on the development for children with varying abilities. 

Jessica is interested in the promotion of development with infants which goes back to her experience in treating pre-term infants in the NICU.  She has experience in treating picky eaters and helping children to expand their food repertoire through a multi-sensory approach to feeding therapy.  Jessica is a registered Therapeutic Listening practioner and has taken extensive courses to assist children with sensory processing disorders. 

Jessica has a passion for the development of future occupational therapy practitioners and has taken various level one and level two therapy students  from nearby accredited occupational therapy programs.

Maeve Denning, MS, OTR/L bio coming soon

Kristen Sutton, MOT, OTR/L earned her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University, and then went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Bay Path University. During her graduate studies, Kristen completed her clinical rotations in both pediatric outpatient (including Creative Development, LLC) and skilled nursing facility settings. Kristen has experience working within the public school systems, and has worked for multiple school systems as an Occupational Therapist, including New Haven, West Haven, and East Haven public schools. She also has experience working in the ABA environment as well as working closely with ABA therapists. Kristen has experience working alongside a multidisciplinary team to provide evaluations and assist in developing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) as well as 504 Plans.  

Kristen has worked with a wide population of children, ranging from preschool to high school aged students, as well as with a variety of diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, Developmental Delays, Cerebral Palsy, visual impairments, social impairments, and sensory processing disorder. 

Kristen continues to expand her knowledge in the field of occupational therapy by engaging in continuing education courses specific to pediatrics, end enjoys working closely with families to develop home programs and ensure carryover of skills gained within the clinic. She enjoys incorporating brain gym and metronome activities within her therapy sessions, as well as providing the “just right challenge” for her clients to promote success. 

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband and two young sons.

Carrie Carroll, COTA/L obtained an associate’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Goodwin College in 2011. She has a broad background working with children, as well as the geriatric population. She worked as a daycare/preschool provider, a licensed patient care assistant at CT Children’s Medical Center and a paraprofessional in the public school system just to name a few. She supported children of all ages with varying disabilities, such as physical, behavioral and educational before embarking on her career path as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. She has worked with children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Autism, sensory impairments, and other developmental delays in both public school and private practice. She also has worked in multiple Rehab and SNF facilities helping individuals regain function and activities of daily living. She enjoys working with the pediatric populations in all areas and settings.

She has attended various educational seminars to further her knowledge and special interest with helping children with feeding difficulties or “Picky Eaters”. Other areas of interest include assisting children with challenging fine motor deficits and emotional dysregulation, by incorporating “Handwriting without Tears and “Zones of Regulation” into therapy sessions.

In 2013, Carrie became and continues to be a mentor to new and upcoming COTA graduates by supervising and providing guidance throughout their fieldwork studies.

Laurie Ekwall, COTA/L holds an associates degree in occupational therapy from Becker Junior College in 1985. She has 20 years experience in the field working with a variety of clients including traumatic brain injury, geriatrics, acute care, and working with the pediatric population with extensive health issues in the hospital setting. She took time away from her profession to stay home with her two daughters. During this time she took a position in the primary classroom of their Montessori school working with 3-5 year olds and eventually took a position working in the toddler room. She joined Creative Development 10 years ago and is happy to be back practicing occupational therapy in the clinical setting.

In 2015 Laurie completed a year long study with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and received her Health Coaching Certification. She decided to become a Health Coach to fulfill her passion for working with children and their parents to adopt a healthier lifestyle by providing guidance and inspiration to help shift their behavior to healthier habits by making step by step changes to their diet and lifestyle. She embeds her health coach certification into her every day practice at Creative Development.

Chris Bachand, OTA/L earned his associates degree in occupational therapy from Goodwin University. He comes from six years of experience working with adolescents with exceptionalities in a variety of settings including school systems, inclusive athletics, and local parks and recreation departments. Chris’s passion is helping young adults increase their level of independence while also becoming functional members of their communities. As a result of his background in town parks and recreation departments and program development, Chris is driven to provide clients with opportunities to enhance both social & daily living skills. He promotes inclusion & acceptance through a multi-sensory approach.

Beatriz Lopez, COTA/L earned her associates degree in health sciences from Goodwin College in 2013 and graduated from Goodwin College as a certified occupational therapy assistant in 2015 with Deanne and Lauren being her teachers and mentors. Beatriz is a bilingual Spanish speaking professional who has 10 years of professional experience working in women’s health, as a Medical Assistant, prior to going into occupational therapy. Beatriz’s fieldwork experience consisted of school system in a non traditional setting at a preschool working with children within the ages of 3-5 years old, and at a Hospital in Mental health acute setting, patients age ranging from adolescence to geriatric. Beatriz has worked with children with Autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, and various impairments that affect daily participation, with Creative Development being her first official employment since August 2015. Also Beatriz has worked per diem at Natchaug hospital serving the mental health community. Beatriz believes mental health is a part of the holistic medicine, and loves to serve the pediatric population, in collaboration with other therapists and the caregivers of the clients.

Veronica Saavedra, COTA/L has earned her Associates degree of Applied Science through Lincoln College of New England in 2015 and continues to expand her knowledge through Bay Path University’s Master of Occupational Therapy Bridge Program.  Veronica has had 6 years of experience working in the pediatric world through outpatient care and Early Intervention as a COTA/L.  With a passion for supporting families and children to navigate development through a client centered approach and individualizing treatment approaches to optimize intervention, Veronica enjoys working with a variety of populations including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD/ADD, mental health disorders, developmental delays, sensory processing disorder and cerebral palsy.  Veronica believes in focusing on the abilities of a child to elevate their skills and reach their highest potential.  In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling, exercising, spending time with family/friends and her dog, Gizmo.

Speech and Language Pathology Staff Bios

Jenna Niles, MS, CCC-SLP  received both her undergraduate degree and a master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University. Jenna has experience working with children ages infancy-21 from previous practicums at Southern as well as from her work at Creative Development, LLC. Jenna has been working as a full-time speech language pathologist at Creative Development since graduation. She enjoys working with the pediatric population, specifically with children who have developmental language disorders, various genetic syndromes, motor speech disorders, social language deficits, as well as with children on the Autism Spectrum. Jenna enjoys working and collaborating with other members of the transdisciplinary team as well in regards to children with complex needs in order to promote the best continuity of care and generalization of learned skills. She believes in a holistic, child-centered approach to therapy and in a family centered approach to therapy, where family carryover and participation is key to building and generalizing speech and language skills. Specialized skills include being level 1 PROMPT trained and AAC training with LAMP Words for Life. Jenna embeds AAC into her therapy sessions with clients when needed and has completed comprehensive AAC evaluations for clients to help them obtain their own speech generating devices. In addition, Jenna has mentored clinical fellowships as well as speech and language students, providing supervision and guidance as they complete their placements. In her free time Jenna enjoys spending time with her family, being a wife and mom to her son and dog, as well as playing soccer and crafting.

Haley Gustavson, MS, CCC-SLP received both her undergraduate degree and master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University. During her graduate studies, she completed her practicums at Southern’s clinic, the public schools, and with the adult population at a skilled nursing facility.  Haley has experience working with children of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, developmental delays, motor speech disorders, and those with hearing and visual impairments. Her specialized skills include being level 1 PROMPT trained. Her approach to treatment offers a variety of strategies, evidence-based support, and play based approaches to promote communicative success. Haley feels that a compassionate and creative approach to treatment provides a supportive environment for growth. In her free time, Haley enjoys dining with friends, especially when pizza is involved, and shopping.

Christine Helmberg, MS, CFY-SLP bio coming soon

Grace Pelletier, MS, CFY-SLP bio coming soon

Debbie Kleinrock, MA, SLP earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The University of Connecticut.  Debbie has experience working in the public schools, pediatric clinics, and private practice. Debbie has experience with clients from birth to early adulthood and has worked with individuals experiencing Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delay, motor speech disorders, visual, and hearing impairments.  Her specialized skills include experience with sign language as a means of AAC and training in LAMP Words for Life.  Debbie prefers working in a transdisciplinary clinic like Creative Development because she feels direct contact with parents as well as working alongside and sharing goals with other disciplines helps clients make the most progress.

Andrea Pascariello, MA, CCC-SLP earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont and her master’s degree from the University of Connecticut. Andrea is a member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), has her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), and holds her Department of Public Health License from the State of Connecticut. Andrea has experience providing intervention for a variety of communication disorders including: receptive and expressive language disorders, social communication disorders, articulation and phonological disorders, apraxia of speech, and fluency disorders. Andrea is dedicated to helping children meet their communication goals and favors a collaborative approach to treatment. 

When she is not spending time planning fun and exciting activities for her clients, Andrea likes to spend time enjoying the outdoors with her two dogs.

Christine Robinson, MS, CCC-SLP earned her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of New Hampshire. She has over 16 years of experience working as a pediatric speech and language pathologist and began her career working in school districts in New Hampshire. She then began working for a pediatric outpatient clinic before joining a rehabilitation hospital where she was part of the pediatric feeding team. This experience gave Christine the opportunity to work with occupational therapists performing and analyzing modified barium swallow studies as well as implementing feeding therapy. Christine enjoys working with children of all ages and abilities and has completed numerous continuing education courses including Lindamood-Bell Phoneme Processing Program for Reading, Spelling, Speech (LiPS),  Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V), Kaufman Speech to Language for Apraxia (K-SLP).  Christine has a passion for working with children diagnosed with motor speech disorders and using creativity in her therapy sessions.

Physical Therapy Staff Bios

Elsa Kniffen, PT, DPT holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a Bachelor’s in Health Science from Gettysburg College, and has been practicing Pediatric Physical Therapy since 2013.  In that time, she has built deep experience improving the quality of life of with infants and children with developmental conditions ranging from Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Torticollis, general developmental delay, and a variety of rare genetic anomalies.  She also has experience treating preterm infants/NICU grads.

Elsa has practiced in a variety of clinical settings, from hospital-based outpatient and inpatient at Atlantic Health System in Morristown, NJ, and at HSC/Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, to specialty schools, public schools, and Early Intervention/B23 services.  During these experiences, she has also expanded her range of treatment options, and is able to provide Aquatic Therapy, Kinesio Taping, and Therapeutic Casting & Splinting of lower extremities in addition to more traditional therapies.

Elsa can also apply her specialized knowledge and experience to the fitting and utilization of adaptive equipment such as gait trainers, wheelchairs, standers, adaptive strollers, and orthotics with children with varying needs of assistance.  She continues this focus at Creative Development, providing medical justification and vendor interface for adaptive equipment.

Outside of work Elsa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, including her husband Todd and their dog Bowen. In addition, spending time outside particularly in the ADKs, antiquing, baking, and needlepointing.

Sarah Zahner, RPT — Bio Coming Soon

Administrative Staff Bio

Nichole Brown, Practice Manager has over 20 years of work experience in public service for Plainville, Canton and Avon Municipalities as an administrative assistant, emergency dispatcher and police officer. Nichole changed careers to work in the medical field as a Certified Medical Assistant Supervisor and her focus was on Process Improvement.   Also, Nichole has studied at the University of Hartford in the Legal Studies Program. 

Nichole is a mother of a 13-year-old boy, who has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism. As the parent of a child with Special Needs, Nichole brings the knowledge she has gained from her personal experience to her professional work with clients, families and staff. Nichole supports our clinicians and families,  offering a listening ear to their concerns and desire for improved outcomes. 

Nichole’s role at Creative Development is to oversee the administrative process and daily management of Creative Development which includes: scheduling, billing and insurance.

Laurie Dupree, Billing Coordinator is responsible for claim management for clients, billing, preparing invoices, and processing payments. In addition, Laurie continuously works with the insurance company to ensure proper payment and reimbursement for Creative Development’s clients. She has been working at Creative Development since 2011.

Taylor Anderson, Front Office Administrator — BIO COMING SOON

Skilled Collaborators Bio

Get Set Go-OT, LLC – Sue Carey graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Rehabilitation Services from Springfield College, in Springfield, MA, and a Masters of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University, in San Jose, California. Sue has had the privilege of working as an occupational therapist with both adults and children in a variety of settings since 1992. Sue spent her early years as a therapist working on a Rehabilitation Team primarily supporting adults and teens recovering from traumatic brain injury. It was at this time she developed an in interest in how the brain learns and is able compensates for injury and differences. Following this time, Sue had the opportunity to work as a seating and positioning specialist, supporting professionals in Northern California, Northern Nevada, Idaho and Montana. It was here that her interest working with younger children was fostered, so in 2000, Sue went to work for Marin County office of Education where she worked with children birth to teens, including those with complex medical issues, children with Autism, children with Speech and Language disorders, children with learning disorders and children with sensory processing differences.

Sue believes that it is essential to work with clients and their families to understand their challenges at home, in the community and school environments. She also takes time to have the family be a part of creating solutions and to include the child is a part of daily goal setting when appropriate. She believes that the clinic experience should be a safe place to practice skills that can foster greater independence outside of the clinical setting. Sue feels that supporting a child’s goals with a home practice program or ‘homework’ is the best way to bring the skill into life outside the clinic. Sue has enjoyed continuing her education taking classes in visual perceptual rehabilitation, Neurodevelopmental Treatment, self regulation, sensory integration and handwriting to name a few. Sue is Sensory Integration and Praxis certified, a Therapeutic Listening Provider and has worked with the Handwriting Without Tears Program since 2000. Working with families as a whole to empower children to use their strengths, embrace their challenges and use both to become their best selves is what she hopes to achieve each day.