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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 Therapy for Children

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

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.

Child & Family Focused
Play Based Therapy

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

Our Team

Rachelle

Clinic Director/Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff Medowie

Rachelle, BAppSc (OT) Hons, is the owner and clinical director of Happy Dots. Rachelle graduated from the University of Sydney 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 8 years, whilst raising children. In her spare time you will find Rachelle anywhere near the lake/beach, drinking coffee & spending times with friends & family.

Josh

Owner / Operations

Cardiff Medowie

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

Cardiff Medowie

Dee is one of our lovely girls you will find on our reception. 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.

Sally

Receptionist

Cardiff Medowie

Sally is excited to have joined Happy Dots as a member of our admin team.

Sally has a passion for working with children, her last position, working as a childcare educator. Sally has experience working within various customer service and administration roles and loves that her position here at Happy dots is the perfect blend of her skills.

Sally is looking forward to supporting our team and helping families wherever she can!

Kristyn

Receptionist

Cardiff Medowie

Kristyn is one of our superstar receptionists at our Cardiff Clinic. Kristyn comes to us with an extensive background in working alongside children and their families in GP clinics throughout Newcastle.

Kristyn has a strong belief in client experience and will ensure you feel welcome and supported when you attend your appointment at Happy Dots.

When Kristyn is not at work, she enjoys the company of her husband and two children.

Kareena

Receptionist

Cardiff Medowie

Kareena’s warm smiling face will welcome you at Reception when you are visiting Happy Dots. Kareena’s background is Administration and Management in the Health Industry.

Kareena has 3 beautiful Children and resides in the Port Stephens Region.
Kareena is passionate about making a difference in the World. She loves helping people and loves working alongside Children and their familes or Guardians. Kareena is also passionate about Music and Singing and does this in her spare time.

Kareena is excited to embrace her new role at Happy Dots and will do everything to make you feel comfortable and welcome at our Clinic.

Neri

Receptionist

Medowie

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.

Alison

Receptionist

Cardiff

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.

Sarah

Clinical Lead Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff Medowie

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.

Sara

Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Sara has a degree of Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) and is a proud member of OT Australia. Sara also is a provider of Medicare and Better Access to Mental Health Care Plans.

Sara is an experienced clinician who has been specialising in the treatment of children with autism for over 14 years and has a wealth of knowledge and extensive practical experience on the most effective ways to treat children with a range of challenges.

Sara has great relationship building skills with the children as well as a vast range of therapy ideas and strategies that she adapts to each and every child. Sara has also attended numerous workshops on Sensory Processing, Fine motor and Handwriting difficulties and is formally trained in the Listening Program, Therapeutic Listening, and various intervention programs, such as fussy/picky eating.

Ally

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Ally completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) from the University of Sydney in 2016, and moved to Wagga for her first few years practicing as an OT. She has recently returned to the Central Coast/ Newcastle area to be closer to family, and the beach!

She has spent the past few years working in the Mental Health Units in Wagga Wagga, and is very excited for a change of specialties into paediatrics.

Ally is passionate about motivating and inspiring people to achieve what they are capable of, and can’t wait to work alongside you to help your child achieve their potential.

Rachel

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from the University of Newcastle. Rachel has a background in aged care, corporate health, property and professional associations before retraining in occupational therapy.

Rachel completed clinical placements in community health, mental health, paediatrics and occupational rehabilitation. It was during the schools-based placement that Rachel discovered her passion for assisting children with occupational therapy. Rachel has a passion for helping families grow and seeing children reach their full potential by having fun with therapy!

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys live music and theatre, cooking and spending time with her friends and family. Rachel is excited to be joining the Happy Dots team.

Megan

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Megan graduated from Southern Cross University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. She has recently relocated from the Gold Coast to Newcastle. Megan has gained a variety experiences from working people in rural communities such as Brewarrina, to working in an acute neurological ward and with primary school children. Megan was recently working with children with disabilities to enable them to participate in dance classes.

Through placement and working with children, Megan has developed a passionate for enabling children to discover their goals, to participate in day to day life and to have fun. Megan is very excited to be joining the Happy Dots team and meeting new friends.

Ethan

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Ethan graduated with a bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from the University of Newcastle. Ethan is a Newcastle local and really loves it here.

Ethan has gained experience working in paediatrics as a therapy assistant in Maitland, mostly with children with cerebral palsy.

Ethan is enthusiastic about the role of Occupational Therapy with children and has a keen desire to meet goals set by families and looks forward to working with these kids to achieve their goals.

On the weekends you can find Ethan kicking about a soccer ball or relaxing inside with a video game or two. Ethan looks forward to joining the team!

Amelia

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Amelia completed a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (honours) at the University of Newcastle in 2020. Amelia was born and raised in the Lake Macquarie region and is excited to become a new graduate paediatric occupational therapist and remain local to work with our children and families.

It has always been Amelia’s dream to work within the health sector, especially with children to make an impact on their lives. Amelia has gained experience working in paediatrics as a disability support worker and in multiple voluntary positions (local and in Vietnam), supporting children mostly with physical disabilities including cerebral palsy. She finds it extremely rewarding working in paediatrics as she is able to observe first hand children achieve goals and overcome obstacles which allows them to achieve their full potential.

Amelia is enthusiastic about gaining additional knowledge in sensory based therapy whilst also incorporating her existing love for creativity in play based sessions. She is determined to make a big impact and provide the best possible therapy.

Sophie

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Medowie

Sophie graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) in 2020. Sophie has grown up in Nelson Bay and enjoys the beach, playing rugby, and going out for coffee in her spare time.

Throughout her studies, Sophie has gained experience working in a range of settings including community aged care, acute and rehabilitation hospitals, and paediatrics. Sophie has also worked as an administration assistant at a paediatric OT clinic throughout her final two years of university. Through this experience working with children, Sophie has seen the positive impact that OT can have upon families lives by boosting a child’s independence, confidence and self-esteem.

Sophie is passionate about helping children become the best version of themselves and assisting them to achieve all of their goals. Sophie is looking forward to joining the Happy Dots team and meeting all of the amazing families!

Serena

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Serena graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from James Cook University. Serena is a born and raised North Queensland girl and has relocated to Newcastle to join the team.

During her studies, Serena worked as a disability support worker and volunteered as a coach and mentor at her local BMX club where she gained valuable life skills and experience whilst working with children of various ages and backgrounds.

Serena’s passion for working with children was further developed after she completed a university placement in a paediatric clinic. She found her high energy and creative approach to therapy was a great match when it came to supporting the children and their families to achieve their desired goals.

Away from work, Serena can be found out and about exploring the local areas looking for her next adventure or in the kitchen cooking up a storm for her friends and family.

Serena is excited to be joining the Happy Dot’s family and is looking forward to exploring her new home and making new friends in the region.

Maileen

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Maileen graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) in 2020. Maileen has lived in the Maitland/Newcastle area for her whole life and has always dreamt of working in an area where she can help others. Maileen has clinical experience in community, neurological and acute settings. She has recently completed her fourth and final clinical placement in a school-based setting, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Maileen feels that her employment as a community support worker, and her various clinical placements have prepared her with a vast range of skills that she is excited to bring to the Happy Dots team. Maileen is looking forward to implementing and furthering her knowledge of Paediatric Occupational Therapy, and implementing quality therapy sessions that benefit all who are involved.

Sara

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Medowie

Sara graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours). Sara has grown up in Nelson Bay, where she enjoys spending time with her family, swimming at the local beaches, water skiing and going for walks with her dog.

Sara has always had a passion and felt the need to help others, which inspired her to enroll into Occupational Therapy. Sara believes the foundations of being an occupational therapist is to provide clients with holistic and client/person centred approaches to best achieve their goals.

Throughout her degree, Sara has gained experience on clinical placements in community mental health, rural and remote paediatric settings, and an inpatient mental health ward. In addition to her placements Sara gained employment at an allied health practice in her second year of university, as an administration officer and then quickly transitioned into the role as an allied health assistant.

Sara is looking forward to assisting children and their families/supports to achieve goals to help build independence in their meaningful occupations.

Vanessa

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Vanessa completed her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from the University of Newcastle graduating with first class honours. During her clinical placement Vanessa worked in mental health/eating disorders, rehabilitation and paediatrics.

Vanessa has a diverse background working in aged care, marketing and business. One of the highlights of operating her remedial massage clinic was becoming an Infant Massage Instructor. Vanessa found supporting parents to connect with their babies incredibly rewarding which sowed the seed for her desire to work in paediatrics.

Outside of work Vanessa enjoys staying active with bushwalking, live music experiences, cooking, hula hooping and spending time with her family. Vanessa is an enthusiastic advocate for children and is looking forward to working with the wonderful Happy Dots Team!

April

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Medowie

Bio coming soon!

Georgia

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Cardiff

Bio coming soon!

Lara

Paediatric Occupational Therapist

Medowie

Bio coming soon!

Sarah

Allied Health Assistant

Cardiff

Sarah is a third year Occupational Therapy (Honours) student at the University of Newcastle.

Throughout her studies, Sarah has had experience working in paediatrics, in both clinic and school contexts, and more recently in mental health rehabilitation.

Sarah has a background in gymnastics coaching and hopes to bring this unique skillset into the paediatric context. She more recently worked as a disability support worker and spent time getting to know and assisting a variety of clients.

Sarah has a great passion for working with the paediatric population and loves the tangible difference therapy can provide to both the child and their family. Sarah loves using play and creative avenues to engage with kids and provide fun but therapeutic activities. Sarah is looking forward to assisting the occupational therapists at Happy Dots and further developing her skills as she completes her degree.

Outside of work, Sarah loves having coffee with friends, walking her dog, and crocheting with a good TV show.

Sarah is very excited to join the team at Happy Dots and meet many new faces!

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