FOCUS Therapy

Olivia Smith, SLP-A

SLP-A

Olivia Smith is a SLP-A (speech-language pathology assistant) with additional education and experience providing ABA therapy.

A 2021 graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Science Disorders and a minor in Applied Behavioral Analysis, Smith joined FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers in 2023. This was after spending nearly a year working as an ABAT (applied behavior analysis technician) in North Carolina, administering ABA therapy to children in both home and clinic settings. She’s also certified in BLS (basic life support), and has a limited working proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL).

“I went through speech therapy as a child,” Smith explained. At the time, I thought it was fun! As I got older, I realized that we were working while playing. When it was all over, I no longer had speech troubles. That’s when I knew this was the perfect career for me!”

She especially enjoys working with children, and says her therapy philosophy is that learning should be fun.

A Tampa native, she moved to North Carolina for a stint with her husband before recently returning to South Florida.

“I love that FOCUS Therapy integrates all of the important therapies under one room,” Smith said. ” The team is always collaborating with one another – which helps the therapists and ultimately the patients.”

In her free time – when not curled up with a good book, a hot tea, and one of her two cats (Stella & Oliver) – Smith enjoys dancing, hiking, yoga, and great coffee!

FOCUS Therapy

Miriam Granja, CF-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist (CF-SLP)

Miriam Granja is a bilingual (English & Spanish) CF-SLP (clinical fellowship speech-language pathologist) who joined FOCUS Therapy in 2022.

Prior to joining the FOCUS Fort Myers speech therapy team, Granja, a Naples native, earned her undergraduate degree in 2020 and her master’s in 2022 – both from the University of South Florida. As a student, she treated a broad age range of patients (pediatric, adult, and geriatric) as well as conditions. In clinical rotation at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, she treated individuals with aphasia, dysphagia, AAC, head and neck cancers, and voice disorders. She also completed an internship with the Hillsborough County School District, where she received additional training for treatment of children with receptive and expressive language delays, phonological disorders, and low tech AAC options, such as PECS. While receiving her master’s degree, she was mentored by a bilingual speech-language pathologist, and has completed numerous dynamic assessments and bilingual speech-language evaluations.

Granja said the spark of wanting to work with children was ignited during a volunteering stint as a reading coach for kindergarten kids in a low socioeconomic community in the Tampa Bay region.

“I wanted to help more children living in these communities and show them that they can accomplish so much more than what the world was telling them they could,” she said. “I love how children can always teach you something new and show you life through a different perspective.”

As for therapy philosophy, Granja underscores that she prioritizes progress over perfection. She especially enjoys working with children from culturally diverse backgrounds, as well as those with medically complex and rare conditions. One of her goals at FOCUS is to gain additional training and experience with pediatric feeding therapy.

“Even for someone new to the clinic, you can immediately sense that FOCUS is more than just a team – it’s a family,” Granja said. “All of the therapists are supportive of one another, and each has the same goal in mind – which is to help children meet and even surpass their goals.”

Outside of her career, Granja enjoys Southwest Florida sunsets, spending time with her loved ones and her dog, baking, working out (especially running regular 5Ks) and making blankets for the dogs and cats at Collier County Domestic Animal Services.

FOCUS Therapy

Rhode Dena, SLP-A

SLP-A (speech-language pathology assistant)

Rhode Georgette Dena has been a speech-language pathology assistant at FOCUS Therapy since 2022.

After earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida Tampa in 2021 in communication sciences and disorders – language, speech, & hearing, Dena completed most of her clinical training online, thanks to the global pandemic. Joining the speech therapy team at FOCUS in Fort Myers was her first opportunity working with clients in-person one-on-one.

“I worked at a skilled nursing facility for over three years, and encountered people with a broad range of disabilities, injuries, and mobility issues. It was there I started to realize just how much communication difficulty impacts a person as well,” she explained. “That’s what really sparked my desire to explore this field. I saw how frustrated people were when they couldn’t be understood. It was so hard to watch them repeat themselves over and over with the same results. I started to research it. That’s how I discovered speech therapy – and I instantly fell in love with the field and haven’t looked back since.”

Initially, she didn’t picture herself working with children. Her time at FOCUS Therapy shifted her goals.

“I always imagined I’d work with the senior population, but I’m so happy I get to experience working with children,” she said. “They are high energy, positive energy – and it’s so rewarding to see them grow up before your eyes.”

A speaker of both English and Haitian Creole, Dena is a New York native who moved to South Florida with her family as a young child.

In her spare time, she loves shopping – specifically, bargain hunting for therapy materials.

“My mind is always working on ways to conduct therapy sessions,” Dena said. “I’ll go charity shops and look around. I’ll buy some items specially for certain kids I know will enjoy them. My family knows about my shopping problem, but my co-workers… They’ll find out when they can no longer find me because I’m under a pile of toys. I mean therapy materials.”

FOCUS Therapy

Sunny Fisch, SLP-A

Sunny Fisch, SLP-A

Sunny Fisch has been an SLP-A (speech-language pathology assistant) providing speech therapy to kids at FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers since 2022.

Rebecca Haber, Fort Myers speech therapy FOCUS Therapy

Rebecca Haber, MS/CCC-SLP Teletherapy

MS/CCC-SLP, Teletherapy

Rebecca Haber, MS/CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist who has worked at FOCUS Therapy since 2021. A native of New York (Go Bills!), she earned her Master’s of Science & Education in Speech Pathology from Buffalo State in 2020 and the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) in 2021. She has a TSSLD teaching certification.

Previously, she worked in a school setting with students diagnosed with developmental delays and disabilities. Her passion is helping kids build functional communication skills so they can engage with the people and world around them.

“It’s incredible to watch all our little humans grow and all the new skills they have each week!” Rebecca said. “My favorite quote is, ‘Be the reason someone believes in good people.’ Positivity and kindness are so important. If I can make even a small impact on our children and their families, that’s what it’s all about.”

Watching how fast they grow and latch onto key concepts, she says, is an incredible thing to witness. “Plus,” she says, “They are HILARIOUS.”

FOCUS, she says, feels like a family.

“It’s awesome how close everyone here is and how well we all work together,” she explained. “Everyone is always willing to lend a helping hand, collaborate, and give our kids the best therapy possible.” 

When she’s not “playing” at FOCUS Therapy, she enjoys spending time cooking with her parents and her puppies.

Kylie Pascarelli, speech therapy Fort Myers

Kylie Pascarelli, SLP-A, Therapy Coordinator

SLP-A, Therapy Coordinator

Kylie Pascarelli is speech-language pathology assistant with a Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders, which she earned from Springfield College in Connecticut in 2017. She joined the FOCUS Speech Therapy team in January 2020, later accepting additional responsibility as the team’s therapy coordinator.

Prior to FOCUS, she worked in a school district with a variety of students (ages 10-21) whose needs couldn’t be met in a typical classroom setting. A native of Durham, Connecticut, she had the opportunity to shadow a speech pathologist at her high school – and from that point on was “hooked.”

“I enjoy working with people in general, and I’ve always loved children,” Pascarelli said. “Being a speech pathologist gives me a chance to do that while helping make a positive impact. I love seeing children have fun while they are learning and growing!”

She was drawn to sunny Southwest Florida to be closer to her parents – and ended up discovering a second “family” in FOCUS.

“Everyone here welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “I have grown so close to my co-workers, and feel so blessed to have made lifelong friends.”

Unearthing the unique interests and strengths of each child is a big part of what makes her work at FOCUS so rewarding. She especially enjoys working with kids who benefit from AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), programming the device and using play-based therapies to help the child learn to use it in ways that open the doors to greater independence.

“As an SLPA, I strive to help my clients become effective communicators,” she says. “Success requires collaboration – not just with the FOCUS team, but parents as well. I also make sure every child is confident and comfortable un each session, because kids make the most strides when they know they’re in a caring environment.” 

In her free time, she takes every opportunity to explore Southwest Florida – and hosting friends and family for visits from Connecticut. She especially enjoys the beach, golfing, and playing tennis.