Erin Franke is an Occupational Therapist, Registered, Licensed, with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University. Her undergraduate degree is from Xavier University, a Bachelor in Liberal Arts with a Human Occupation Concentration she earned in 2016. Erin is additionally trained as a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT). Erin has found implementing established and effective tenants of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in occupational therapy sessions with children diagnosed with conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome allows for more effective carry-over/generalization of skills. This underscores one of FOCUS’ founding principles of intradisciplinary services to more effectively treat the “whole child.”
Inspiration for Erin’s career choice in occupational therapy came in high school. At the time, she was one of the few caregivers trusted to babysit by parents of a child with autism in her northern Kentucky hometown. When her brother was diagnosed as developmentally delayed stemming from early onset chronic illness, their mother took him for treatment with an occupational therapist. On the way home that first day, Erin’s mother called to tell her, “I found the career you need to be in.”
Turns out, Mom was right. Erin especially appreciated the occupational therapist’s holistic approach to pediatric care, with a strong emphasis on play and tailoring each session to her brother’s individual interests. She began sitting in on sessions to observe, inquire and soak in as much knowledge as she could. Meanwhile, she had front row seats to her brother’s milestones big and small. She soon began volunteering and ultimately left her family’s large farm (where they raised cows, horses, cats and dogs), crossed the Ohio River to pursue an undergraduate degree (and volunteer with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati). She later ventured to the sunny shores of Southwest Florida for her master’s degree.
FOCUS is her first full-time job as a registered, licensed occupational therapist. Experienced in treating both adults and children (the latter in a school system, in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation and in a youth outreach center with a prime focus in mental health), Erin is still drawn to younger patients.
“I love kids’ energy and the opportunity to see them grow into their skills and find their place in the world.”
FOCUS’ strong emphasis on play, interdisciplinary services and holistic treatment approach, she says, make patients feel at-home – ultimately resulting in therapy that’s more effective.
“Children learn so much from these experiences that they don’t even realize it’s work,” Franke said. “My philosophy is to provide every child with the care, support and love my brother received during his therapy so that every child and family I work with never feels alone – and will hopefully experience the progress and growth my brother was able to achieve.”