About

About Happy Dots

Occupational Therapy can help to give your child the greatest opportunity in life, particularly in those early years of development. Happy Dots is a privately owned Paediatric clinic located in the Hunter Region (Cardiff & Medowie), which offers a friendly, professional and sensory based approach for children of varying conditions, aged between 2-18 years of age. We strive for sensory & play based therapy that is FUN! We are also proud winners of the Best Health Improvement Service in the Hunter for 2020.

Occupational Therapy addresses activities of daily living that your child may be having difficulty with. Our personalised and multidisciplinary approach allows for children to reach their maximum potential across a range of different environments.

Our Occupational Therapists can provide:

• Sensory based therapy to help regulate emotions
• Clinical assessments to help with diagnosis and support
• Assistance with restricted diets & fussy eating
• Assistance with Handwriting difficulties
• Strategies to support sleep
• Strategies to best support behaviour
• Coordination of fine & gross motor skills
• Self Care assistance (eating, dressing, toileting, etc)
• Play skills (including joint attention & concentration)
• School Readiness skills & more.

Happy Dots aims to provide friendly, professional and exceptional service to suit children of all abilities. Our therapists are trained to engage children in innovative, fun, motivating and age-appropriate activities to meet child and parent/carer goals. Services and  programs are also individually designed to improve independence within home and school environments and to identify a child’s current developmental milestones, skill levels and functional barriers. We then provide family-friendly strategies and sensory based  interventions to facilitate the development of skills and functional performance for skill development in everyday activities.

Happy Dots has purpose built therapy clinics offering a welcoming, well equipped and safe environment in which children have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the therapist to achieve their goals. We also offer home & school visits as a part of our professional service.

Our Philosophy

Sensory Based

Sensory processing is our ability to detect, integrate and process information from our senses and then perform appropriate actions in relation to this information. If a child is over reacting, under reacting or fluctuating in how they register this input it will directly impact their ability to attend to tasks.To be effective sensory processing must be efficient. Sensory Integration refers to the process of creating efficient sensory pathways and connections in the central nervous system. Experts agree that until about seven years of age the brain is most active in the development of these pathways.

All children are learning to process sensory information and children with more apparent disabilities such as hearing or visual impairments may not receive, perceive, organize or interpret information accurately, however, many children also have difficulties with this
which are not so obvious.

A difficulty in sensory processing may result in an inability to regulate sensory input. These include: sensitivity to sensations, inconsistent or confused responses to situations, disorganized behaviours, poor peer interactions, immature social/emotional development,
reduced self-esteem or self-control and poor academic development.

At Happy Dots, we are able to work collaboratively with you and your child to develop a functional sensory diet that will assist in keeping their sensory system calm, but alert. For more information on how a sensory diet may benefit your child, please contact us.

Child & Family Focused

Happy Dots strives to maintain a client-focused approach where children and families feel validated in their concerns, supported in difficult times, encouraged to be proactive and inspired to facilitate change.

We are motivated to facilitate and empower our staff and the families that access our service to reach their potential because we care about helping others achieve their goals and dreams.

At Happy Dots, we aim to create a brighter future for all children and their families.

Play Based

Play is a powerful tool in therapy with children. Children naturally do most of their learning during play, they learn about themselves and the world around them, about relationships with others, and about the expression and management of feelings all through active exploration in playful activity. Play is fundamental to the learning and development of all children.

Play-based therapy utilises enjoyable and child-directed activity to assist children with challenges. Therapists modify these child-directed activities in a playful manner to provide appropriate challenge for the child, and to achieve therapeutic outcomes whilst the child engages in play.

Play is also highly meaningful and motivating. When an activity is meaningful, the child is likely to be more driven, work harder, and persist in a way that they would not in an activity that they find uninteresting or overly challenging. Activities that are meaningful bring about greater memory and learning of the experience than do activities that are less meaningful.

Play-based therapy at Happy Dots incorporates families into therapy sessions where appropriate. Through including families in play-based therapy sessions, family members have the opportunity to enjoy time together whilst achieving therapeutic outcomes. These sessions also provide an opportunity to model activities that can then be taken home to extend the activities and strategies from therapy sessions into everyday life.

Our Values

Passion, Purpose, Potential

Everything has intent. We have a passion for improvement and a commitment to learning and growth. We care for our clients, and are committed to WOW. We are empowering and high performance.

Outside the ‘Dot’

We are innovative, creative, engaging, and flexible. We are always extending horizons and kicking goals. We create the right place to be for endless possibilities. We are solutions focused and capacity building. Practice makes progress. Uno is more than just uno!

We are Better Together

Clients and team are like family. We are collaborative and value diversity. We work AND win together. We are empowering safe, secure, open, and honest. “It takes a village to raise children…you’ve got this!” We celebrate wins and are filled with gratitude.

Growth through play

We are fun, enthusiastic, and passionate. Kids love coming to our clinic spaces. We find and work with flow. We play with purpose and take PLAY seriously!

Our Clinics

Cardiff

Medowie

Rachelle

Clinic Director/Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Rachelle, BAppSc (OT) Hons, is the owner and clinical director of Happy Dots. Rachelle graduated from the University of Sydney in 2009 achieving first class honours, and has since shown a strong passion and desire to work with children.

Rachelle has experience in providing therapy to children with a range of varying conditions, predominantly Autism, along with other conditions such as Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD. Rachelle has experience in working across a variety of different environments such as clinic, home, school and in the community.

Rachelle’s main role involves business development & client relations, to ensure everything runs as smooth as it can at Happy Dots. Rachelle also spends time working closely with her team to ensure they are mentored and guided in a way to ensure great outcomes both personally & professionally.

Rachelle has built and expanded the company over the last 10 years, whilst raising children. In her spare time you will find Rachelle anywhere near the lake/beach, drinking coffee & spending time with friends & family.

Josh

Owner / Operations

Josh brings a vast array of skills and experience to Happy Dots, and is often found behind the scenes, or with a tool belt on building & expanding our clinics.

During his early career, He spent ten years in the Royal Australian Air Force as an Aircraft Technician, where he served in multiple rescue missions, and is a returned serviceman.

In addition to his duties within Happy Dots, Josh also ran a successful financial planning & mortgage broking business, being voted as one of the top 20 financial planners within his dealer group.

His most recent achievement is a Master’s degree in Business, which he earned whilst owning two businesses and raising three children. The various concepts learned in this degree allows Josh to provide direction and support to key areas relating to business.

Josh’s favourite activities include; Spending time with family, playing guitar, property investment, and building cars.

Dee

Practice Coordinator

Dee is our super star practice coordinator who handles all things day to day in keeping the business running as smoothly as possible. Dee is a true Novocastrian and has worked in various administration roles for more than twenty years. Dee is a mother of two teenage sons and enjoys spending most weekends as a soccer mum.

Dee looks forward to working and supporting the Happy Dots team and loves helping people get the best out of everyday, seeing people leave with a smile and a refreshed positive attitude.

You will find Dee will make you feel very welcome and do all she can to assist you.

Neri

Receptionist

Hi, my name is Neri and I am a proud Happy Dots Receptionist based predominantly in Medowie. You may see my smiling face around Cardiff too!

I come from a Corporate background having many roles as Executive Assistant/Office Management and Customer Service. One of my career highlights was when I worked at Newcastle Knights Football club as Football Administrator. This was a very fast paced and exciting role with a great culture.

Most importantly though my biggest role was when I became a Parent. The learnings I have had since then are things you just can’t learn from a manual; you have to experience them. My son at an early age was diagnosed with Sensory processing disorder, anxiety and specific phobias with speech delay so I have personally experienced firsthand the benefits of OT for kids and also, I have experienced personally the challenges you face so I am so excited to be working as a Receptionist for Happy Dots where I can welcome the parents with a smile and make them feel they are in loving a safe place.

Amanda

Receptionist

Amanda is Newcastle born and bred, has a gorgeous 15yr old daughter who shares her Mum’s passion for living life to the fullest!

Family and friends are very important to Amanda and she likes nothing more than spending time catching up with them, that’s when she’s not playing tennis or tap dancing!

Having previously worked in Childcare for 10+ years, it was time for change, so she entered the “health” industry working for a wonderful Chiropractor and for an inspirational exercise Oncology centre.

Amanda works from Mondays & Thursdays.

She is looking forward to saying hello next time you’re at the clinic.

Alison

Receptionist

Alison is excited to be part of the Happy Dots admin team and can’t wait to meet you all.

Alison has had many years working in early childhood and loves supporting children and their families. You may recognise Alison’s face as a long serving member at GymbaROO!

Alison has four children and is a Cardiff local. She enjoys spending time with her family, catching up with friends and going for long walks around the lake or beach.

Grace

Receptionist

Grace is our lovely receptionist you will see working in our Medowie clinic on Thursdays & Fridays.

Grace has worked in customer service and reception roles for many years and she is passionate about connecting with, supporting and helping families.

Grace lives in Medowie with her family and has two busy and energetic boys of her own. As a family, she love being outdoors, going to the beach, hiking and riding motorbikes.

Grace is so excited to be a receptionist at Happy Dots and can’t wait to meet you all.

Mel

Receptionist

Bio coming soon!

Sarah

Clinical Lead / Senior Paediatric OT

Sarah has a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from the University of Newcastle. Graduating in 2011. Sarah has experience in working across a range of functional issues and diagnosis’ including Sensory Processing issues, Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, ADHD, Tourettes Syndrome, anxiety and global developmental delay.

Sarah is passionate about working collaboratively with families and their teams to support better outcomes for her clients. She has a particular interest in sensory processing issues and it’s impact on diet and fussy eating, anxiety and trauma informed practice.

Sarah also had a passion for play and it’s power to teach a range of skills in early intervention. She enjoys being creative and personalising therapy, making it individualised and fun. Sarah works across both our Cardiff & Williamtown clinics.

Kenny

Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Bio coming soon!

Megan Cooper

Team Leader / Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Megan graduated from Charles Sturt University, Albury, with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy in 2019. Megan has experience working in rural and remote NSW as a Paediatric Occupational Therapist. Throughout this role, she has gained valuable experience working with children who have had a wide range of difficulties throughout their daily lives. She has worked extensively with these children and their families to assist them in being able to achieve all of their goals. Megan has a special interest in feeding therapy and assisting children to learn to engage with new foods and develop a safe and healthy relationship with food and eating.

She enjoys assisting children and their families to achieve their goals and develop a level of independence that they may not have thought was possible. Megan enjoys seeing the joy and excitement on a family member and child’s face when they complete a new activity or learn a new skill.

Outside of work Megan enjoys going to the beach and indoor rock climbing.

Sophie Simpson

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Sophie has been working as a Paediatric Occupational Therapist in the Medowie clinic since 2021. Sophie grew up in Nelson Bay, and she completed her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) at Newcastle University. Sophie is passionate about helping children become the best version of themselves and assisting them to achieve all their goals. Sophie particularly enjoys working on gross motor skills, or running the flying start school readiness group to help prepare children and their families for the transition into Kindergarten. Outside of work, Sophie loves spending time with her family, going to the beach, and playing rugby.

April McMillan

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

April is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist. April completed her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Newcastle in 2009. April enjoys supporting children with their sensory needs and figuring out sensory habits to support regulation. April loves working with children, young adults and their families to support their goals for play and leisure, school, and daily living. The best part of her job- using play as therapy all day long.

April resides in the Port Stephens area with her husband, 5 children and a selections of pets.

A fulfilling day for April would include a swim at the pool, moving mulch with a shovel and wheel-barrow around the garden (love that proprioceptive input!), and having a sing-a-long with her kids around the piano.

Georgia

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Georgia graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) in 2020. Georgia grew up on the mid north coast and moved to Newcastle to begin university where she loves spending time at the beach.

During her studies, Georgia has gained experience doing mental health, hospital and community OT placements and completed her 4th year placement working in school-based and clinic-based paediatric settings.

Georgia has worked as a gymnastics coach for many years where she gained skills in running group and individual sessions with children of all ages and backgrounds. She loves the opportunity to be creative and see children explore and discover their abilities and potential.

Georgia is very excited to join the Happy Dots team!

Ebony

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Ebony graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2020. Ebony was born and raised in rural Queensland and is loving the beach lifestyle here in Newcastle.

Ebony completed her first year as an OT in a rural private practice, gaining experience in a wide range of occupational therapy services, predominantly paediatrics. She completed clinical placements in a paediatric and an adolescent hospital setting.

Ebony is passionate about the holistic approach OT provides to help children and families reach their goals and gain confidence in their everyday life.

Ebony spends her spare time going to the beach, exploring the Newcastle area and spending time with friends and family. Ebony is excited to join the Happy Dots team!

Tim

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Tim graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) in 2018. Tim has a background in rehabilitation and outpatient services at Maitland Private Hospital. Additionally, Tim has experience working with Autism Spectrum Disorder and challenging behaviors as a member of Allambi Care.

Tim is motivated and passionate about the role of Occupational Therapy with children and believes in trying to embrace the small wins and strive for outcomes for any child, particular from a sensory perspective.

Outside of work, Tim enjoys the beach, kicking a soccer ball and can play music endlessly. Tim is thrilled to work at Happy Dots and is a little happy dot himself!

Pia

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Pia has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from the University of Newcastle in 2022. Pia has a passion in working with children and individuals with disabilities which she furthered during multiple years working as a support worker an tutoring. Pia has a particular interest in Autism which has seen her further her studies as she works towards a Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies in 2023 at Griffith University.

Throughout her studies, Pia gained experience working in a variety of settings including mental health, hospital, and paediatrics. Through her experience in both clinic and school based paediatrics Pia has gained a thorough understanding of role of OT in supporting children and their families through the development of skills and by encouraging independence.

In her spare time you can find Pia at the gym lifting heavy objects, or at home on the couch surrounded by her cats.

Pia is extremely excited to be a part of the Happy Dots Team!

Jaci Guelen

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Bio coming soon!

Chris Grigg

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Chris has recently graduated Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from the University of Newcastle (2022). Chris has experience as a disability support worker working with children with Autism and ADHD. Chris is passionate about being able to foster independence and growth with clients and their families and seeing the genuine joy and excitement when they manage to complete something they previously couldn’t.

He has a particular interest in Autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression and trauma-informed practice.

Chris is a great listener with a wide variety of interests including, tennis, reading and writing gaming, marvel and all things nerd culture.

Grace Harpley

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Bio coming soon!

Grace

Therapy Assistant

Grace is a 4th Year student studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Newcastle.

Grace has found a passion for working with children to help them grow and develop their skills to achieve their goals.

She has participated in volunteer work in multiple areas working with children and been involved with soccer coaching programs for young kids.

Outside of work, Grace loves to be outdoors, plays and coaches soccer and loves going on runs and beach walks. In addition to this, Grace enjoys seeing her friends and watching movies to wind down and relax.

Grace is very excited to be joining the Happy Dots team!

Dani

Therapy Assistant

Dani is a 4th-year Occupational Therapy (Honors) student at the University of Newcastle. A lifelong learner Dani completed a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Newcastle in 2000 and a Diploma of Remedial massage in 2015. She has been working in various social work, community development, and remedial massage positions over the last 20 years, though most people are interested in the massage roles and how she can fix their shoulder pain.

Whilst working as a massage therapist, she developed a passion for understanding the nervous system, sensory processing, trauma, and the body. After meeting some incredible OTs, she decided she needed to study Occupational Therapy with a particular interest in sensory processing and sensory-based intervention.

She is passionate about embracing neurodivergence, understanding sensory processing and sensory profiles, and learning more about trauma-informed and neurodiverse-affirming practice. She has gained experience through her studies working in preschools and private paediatric practice and working with indigenous communities.

When she is not at work, you will find her reading, dancing the 5 Rhythms, walking around Glenrock, and playing with her dogs. She is also a big fan of Harry Potter, Dr Who, Star Trek, and all things Marvel.

Sas

Therapy Assistant

Sasika is a 3rd year Occupational Therapy (Honours) student at the University of Newcastle. Before studying OT, Sasika spent two years studying development and anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra. During this time, Sasika started working as a nanny and discovered that she had a passion for working with children and families. This led her to move to Newcastle to begin studying Occupational Therapy.

Throughout her Occupational Therapy studies, Sasika has worked as a disability support worker. After completing her first-year placement here at Happy Dots, Sasika’s passion for working with children and families has continued to grow. She is interested in learning more about sensory processing and trauma-informed care.

Outside of work and study, Sasika loves hiking, crocheting, and spending time with friends. Sasika is very excited to be joining the Happy Dots team!

Georgia

Therapy Assistant

Georgia is a third year Occupational Therapy (Honours) student at the University of Newcastle. Georgia has gained experienced in metropolitan, regional and rural clinical settings throughout her degree, involving stroke rehabilitation, acute care, community mental health, and paediatrics within the Happy Dots clinic.

Georgia has always had a passion for working with children and assisting them to reach their potential in everyday life. She has had previous experience working with children in sport coaching and nannying. This influenced her passion and curiosity for understanding how a child’s fun and meaningful occupations are crucial for their development.

Georgia is particularly interested in working with children and families to build strategies and skills to overcome barriers in performing everyday activities.

Outside work and study, Georgia enjoys hiking, going to the beach, painting, playing soccer and spending time with friends and family.

Georgia is very excited to be a part of the Happy Dots team and work with the Happy Dots families!

Bridget

Therapy Assistant

Bio coming soon!

Ginger

Therapy Assistant

Bio coming soon!

Rebecca

Paediatric Speech Pathologist

Rebecca graduated from The University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) in 2015. Rebecca has experience working with children and their families across many areas of speech pathology practice, including speech, language, fluency (stuttering), literacy, voice, and Augmentative and Alternative communication (AAC).

Rebecca is passionate about working as a team with families, health professionals and educational professionals, to ensure each child reaches their potential. She enjoys incorporating each child’s interests into speech pathology sessions to ensure therapy is functional and fun.

Rebecca has a special interest in working with neurodiverse children and their families and children with complex communication needs. Additionally, she has extensive experience in providing whole class and whole school supports in the areas of school age literacy and language.

Outside of work Rebecca enjoys hiking with her friends and spending time with family.

Kate

Paediatric Speech Pathologist

Kate graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) in 2021. Kate has experience supporting children with a variety of communication difficulties across a range of therapy settings including in-clinic, telehealth, preschools and primary schools.

Kate has a particular interest in speech sound disorders and early literacy development. Kate also enjoys facilitating group programs targeting school readiness, language development and social communication skills.

Kate is passionate about collaborating closely with families, educators, and health professionals to provide holistic therapy for her clients. Kate values the importance of individualised and client-centred therapy end enjoys implementing a fun and creative approach to her speech pathology intervention.