About Us

South Florida Pediatric Feeding Specialists

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MEET THE THERAPISTS

Andrea Alifano, MS, CCC-SLP: Owner/Lead Feeding Therapist

Speech language pathologist and feeding specialist received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida in 2000 and continued her education at New York Medical College where she received a Master of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology in 2002. Andrea has worked in various settings including; acute care/NICU, sub-acute care, outpatient rehab, private practice, and early intervention in the natural environment setting. Andrea’s primary focus is the assessment and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. She is a member of the American Speech Language-Hearing Association and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence.
The majority of Andrea’s postmasters education and clinical practice has focused on oral motor feeding topics such as; the Beckman Oral Motor Assessment and Treatment Protocol, sensory integration disorders, and oral sensory feeding disorders as well as pediatric dysphagia. Andrea is certified in Vital Stimulation and the Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding. She has provided clinical supervision for speech pathology students and completed several in staff training sessions on various pediatric feeding and dysphagia topics.

Taylor Thomas, MA, CCC-SLP: Owner/Lead Feeding Therapist

Speech language pathologist and feeding specialist graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders and went on to complete her Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Maryland from 2004-2006. Her interest in pediatric feeding and swallowing therapy began while in graduate school, where she completed her internship at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital’s interdisciplinary intensive feeding and swallowing program. This is where her passion for working with children with a variety of feeding and swallowing disorders began.

Since this time, she has focused her career on helping children fulfill their potential for health, nutrition, and functional sensory-motor feeding skills, as well as helping families make feedings fun and pleasurable.

Since 2006, Taylor has practiced in a variety of medical pediatric settings, including inpatient, NICU, and outpatient hospital setting, private practice clinical setting, and in home/natural environment. Her areas of specialized clinical practice include oral motor, sensory-motor, and behavioral feeding disorders, oral pharyngeal dysphagia, neuromotor development, neonatal ICU development, motor speech disorders, Early Intervention and pediatric video-swallow studies. She is certified in Pediatric VitaI Stimulation, the Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale, the Beckman Oral Motor Assessment and the Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding, as well as completed several additional courses in feeding and swallowing disorders and NICU.

Andrea and Taylor together launched the first intensive feeding program in South Florida. They teach post-masters continuing education courses on topics related to pediatric feeding disorders and dysphagia, as well as have developed a line of feeding therapy tools for professionals to use to promote successful and fun therapy sessions.

Sarah Friedman, MOT, OTR/L

Sarah is a pediatric occupational therapist who graduated from Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Occupational Science in 2015 and a Master of Occupational Therapy in 2016. She has always known that she wanted to work in the medical field with children, and when she found out that there was a job that combined eating, playing, learning, crafting, and teaching children to grow up to be the most independent and successful versions of themselves – she knew that occupational therapy was a perfect fit. Sarah has worked in a variety of settings, including private practice, outpatient clinics utilizing hippotherapy and aquatic therapy, schools, and pediatric home health with a strong focus on feeding and sensory integration.

Sarah has completed the Certificate Program in Sensory Integration from the University of Southern California, with coursework specified to address Sensory Integration for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum and Sensory Based Feeding and Eating Challenges. She has also completed continuing education in Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding and Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding Therapy. Sarah has supervised occupational therapy students and helped to train other members of the therapy team, including speech, physical, and behavioral therapists on the importance of sensory processing and using sensory based strategies during treatment sessions. She is excited to now be a part of the team at The Pediatric Feeding Institute of South Florida

Jennifer Sherm MOTR/L

Occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics and children with feeding disorders received her Bachelor of Science degree from James Madison University in 2008. She continued her education at JMU and received her Masters of Occupational Therapy degree in 2010. Jenn has worked in a variety of settings including early intervention, home health, outpatient rehabilitation, prescribed pediatric extended care and private practice. She enjoys working with children who have feeding disorders and sensory processing difficulties.

Jenn has taken continuing education courses in Handwriting Without Tears, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding, Beckman Oral Motor, Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Integration, NDT, The Alert Program, and DIR/Floortime®. She has also developed play groups for preschoolers. Jenn has supervised occupational therapy students as a clinical instructor and developed resource manuals for them as new practitioners. Jenn developed the OT role for the intensive feeding program at this facility to support children’s self feeding skills, postural control and sensory processing to help meal time be as successful as possible. She is passionate about working with families to help their child reach their maximum level of independence and excited to be a part of the team!

Diane Costulas, MS, OTR/L

Diane, an occupational therapist and feeding therapist, graduated from Misericordia University in 2008 with a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Diane has worked in various settings including: pediatric outpatient therapy, pediatric acute care, NICU, home health, and outpatient feeding therapy. She enjoys working with children who have feeding disorders and general developmental coordination disorders.

Diane’s main focus areas are skill development and sensory exploration to support healthy, and successful feeding experiences, as well as fostering a positive social environment around mealtimes. Mealtimes should be enjoyable for children and caregivers in any setting. Diane is passionate about not only helping children in the clinic setting but facilitating the same level of enjoyment at home, school, and in the community.

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OFFICE STAFF

Maribel Torres, Office Manager

With over 10 years experience in medical office management, Maribel Torres has dedicated her professional pursuits in serving the medical community with passion and excellence. She has had the opportunity to work in various medical specialties which led her to rediscover the joy of working with pediatric patients and their families. Maribel has been a part of the Pediatric Feeding Institute of South Florida team for 3 years and oversees office operations. She enjoys being part of this growing team and is enthusiastic in helping each family start their journey to making their mealtimes more enjoyable!

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FACILITIES

Our Facility

Our office is conveniently located on Palmetto Park Road, in between Powerline Rd and Lyons Road on the 2nd floor of the 7301 building.

Our facility offers:

  • Waiting room with wifi
  • Sensory Gym
  • Large feeding treatment rooms
  • Full Kitchen for Safe Food Preparations
  • Secondary waiting room for children attending the Intensive Feeding Program

Does My Child Have A Feeding Disorder?

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Does My Child Need Feeding Therapy?

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Mealtime Myths

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About Our Program

The Pediatric Feeding Institute of South Florida (PFISF) specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children with various feeding and swallowing disorders using sensory, behavioral, and oral motor approaches as appropriate.  We are committed to implementing innovative methods to address complex feeding disorders to ensure positive outcomes that generalize to the natural environment and are long-lasting. We provide treatment for infants, children and adolescents with feeding and swallowing difficulties/disorders frequently associated with gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies/intolerances, prematurity, oral motor dysfunction, autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, cleft lip/palate, failure to thrive, various syndromes, feeding tube dependance, sensory integration disorders, structural abnormalities (i.e. tongue tie) and cardio-respiratory conditions.

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