Children with disabilities and high intensity needs who receive early intervention therapy experience improvement in their motor, cognitive, and communication development. Nationally, there is a need for highly qualified OTs, PTs, and SLPs to work in early intervention (EI) and early childhood (EC).

Press Release: University of Florida INSPIRE Grant

Interdisciplinary Related Services Personnel Preparation for Early Childhood (INSPIRE) will train University of Florida OT, PT, and SLP students to better serve young children with disabilities and high intensity needs. A total of forty-five students, over the course of five years, will engage in a specialized curriculum consisting of enriched entry-level education and enhanced clinical training to support successful employment in early intervention and early childhood programs.

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INSPIRE grant team photo

The five-year program is funded by a $1.24 million grant from the Department of Education. Three students per year from each participating program (OT, PT, SLP) will be funded by the program. These INSPIRE scholars will receive stipends to cover one full year of tuition. After graduation, scholars will complete a service obligation of two years employment in an early intervention or school setting.

Led by project director, Christine Myers, Ph.D., OTR/L, with co-directors, Lori-Ann Ferraro, M.A., CCC-SLP, and Claudia Sesesac, Ph.D., P.T., PCS, INSPIRE scholars will participate in coursework using effective coaching and consultative models to enhance the intensity of individualized intervention for children with disabilities who have high intensity needs. Scholars will also receive mentoring from local therapists, participate in simulation experiences and complete a pediatric fieldwork/internship. Other key personnel include: Kim Dunleavy, PhD, MOMT, PT, OCS; Amy Blue, PhD; Bill McGehee, PT, PhD; and George Hack, PhD.

INSPIRE is open to students starting the MA in Communication Sciences and Disorders in the fall, and Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical therapy students entering their second year in the fall.

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Want more information about INSPIRE? Please contact us below.

Christine T. Myers photoChristine Myers, Ph.D., OTR/L

INSPIRE Director & Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Occupational Therapy

Office Phone

(352) 273-6817


Lori-Ann Ferraro PhotoLori-Ann Ferraro, M.A., CCC-SLP

INSPIRE Co-Director & Clinical Lecturer
Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Office Phone

(352) 265-5204


Claudia Sesesac PhotoClaudia Sesesac, PT, Ph.D., PCS

INSPIRE Co-Director & Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Physical Therapy

Office Phone

(352) 273-6453