Meet the OT
My name is Alyssa Rittenhouse, and as a former Norwin Knight (Class of 2007), I am proud to have been an occupational therapist at my alma mater since 2013! At Hillcrest, I work with the students in the Life Skills classroom, as well as students in regular education who need occupational therapy.
Following my Norwin education, I received a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science with a certificate in Psycho-Social Issues in Rehabilitation and Personal Care in April 2011, and a Master of Occupational Therapy in June 2013, both from the University of Pittsburgh. I received experience in school-based occupational therapy during a clinical fieldwork placement at The Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children from January-April 2013, in which I evaluated and treated pre-K and school-age students with visual impairment coupled with other serious physical and cognitive disabilities. In addition, I completed a clinical fieldwork at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Summer Camp in August 2012, implementing treatment interventions and activity modifications for children with various forms of muscular dystrophy. My additional fieldwork experience includes placements at: Shadyside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center from April—June 2013, evaluating and treating patients with a variety of diagnoses, UPMC Mercy from September—December 2012 in the acute care unit, and Community Human Services from January—April 2012, treating people with chronic mental illness.
Several of my additional work experiences involved autism, an area of great interest for me. I worked as a therapeutic counselor at the John Merck Summer Therapeutic Inclusion Program (STIP) in 2008 and 2009, planning and implementing behavioral interventions and activity modifications for children with autism, as well as assisting with activities of daily living, sensory integration issues, and running social skills groups. I was also involved in the NIH-sponsored Pittsburgh Early Autism Study as a student researcher from January 2009—April 2010. I attained certification for Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and coded facial expressions in infants at a high risk for developing autism, with the goal of distinguishing characteristics for the earlier diagnosis of autism.
In addition, I spent two weeks in August 2010 volunteering at Manos Unidas School for Special Education in Cusco, Peru. I assisted an American occupational therapist in treating children with various diagnoses and providing carryover education to the faculty at the school. I also completed community outreach services to local organizations and underprivileged families.
I look forward to continuing to integrate my experiences and knowledge as an occupational therapist for students here at my alma mater!