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Nicole Murby - Director of Therapy & Partnerships

Nicole Murby

Vice President of Programs

Nicole Murby is the Vice President of Programs at Easterseals Southwest Florida, overseeing the Therapy Department at multiple locations throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. She is also the Director of Therapy for InStride Therapy. Nicole currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Early Learning Coalition and is a former Board Member for InStride Therapy. The Easterseals Therapy Team is comprised of Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Infant-Toddler Developmental Specialists, Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Technicians and Music Therapists. This team provides Hippotherapy at InStride Therapy in Nokomis, and at present time the serves over 600 individuals per year in our community. Nicole was born in Michigan but spent most of her years in the Northeast in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She graduated from Salem State College in Massachusetts with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In 2005 received her M.S. in Communication Disorders from the University of New Hampshire to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Nicole has been creating programs and working with children and adults with unique abilities for the past 17 years in Florida and New Hampshire.

Equine-Assisted Services

Equine-Assisted Services are therapy sessions guided by a Licensed Mental Health Therapist that is certified as PATH Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Participants will initially meet with the therapist for an individual evaluation to develop personalized goals for treatment. The number of sessions will be determined by individual needs. 

Individual and group sessions are available.

To learn more about equine-assisted services with Easterseals, call 941.355.7637.

Hippotherapy

Easterseals Happiness House is proud offer therapy and horseback riding services at InStride Ranch, a beautiful 62-acre therapy facility in Nokomis, Florida to deliver Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Speech Therapy. Additionally, InStride also offers Therapeutic Riding and Equine-Assisted Learning Programs. Our horseback riding program offers the ability for riders ages 7 and up to learn Classical Horsemanship and Classical Dressage.

To learn more about hippotherapy with Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Mental Health

Through partnerships with Samaritan Counseling Services, Telement Therapy and The Florida Center, the Easterseals Happiness House mental health program provides services to many of the clients we serve throughout the agency.

  • Samaritan Counseling provides counseling to identified students in our K-12 academy. Services include direct weekly counseling, classroom observations and consultation, and support to parents and families. Students are referred by families or staff members.
  • Telement Therapy is available for caregiver coaching sessions with clients and families and wellness checks to Easterseals’ staff members. All sessions are confidential.
  • The Florida Center provides a full-time staff counselor on staff in the Lily Preschool to provide ongoing support to the children and families that are in need due to trauma, emotional support to children and classroom support.
  • Easterseals Happiness House provides counseling services to veterans and first responders who need support.


To learn more about the mental health services at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

 

Case Management

Our case management office consists of two case managers who represent the agency as a whole. They are the first point of contact for the programs listed below. One of the case managers is bilingual, so we can help the Hispanic community navigate the process of getting support for their families.

  • The Diagnostic Clinic – Manage the assessment process and schedules for the psychologists.
  • Clinical Therapy – Assist in obtaining needed information for clients and managing the clinical waitlist.
  • Lily Preschool – Connect new families for enrollment as well as other services as needed, such as clinical, diagnostics and play project.
  • Easterseals Academy – Intake for prospective families, assisting with enrollment and scholarship applications, and other services as needed.
  • Adult Enrichment- Assist families with APD applications, diagnostic needs, and making connections with outside resources.
  • Digital Navigation – Help families obtain internet access, computers and training at a discounted price
  • Unite Us and Whole Child Network – Utilize these resources to assist families in finding services in our community.
  • Community Outreach -Connect with various agencies within the community to provide families with the support they need. Needs may include food, clothing, electric and utilities, housing and educational advocacy.


For more information on Case Management at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637 x 418 and x 430.

 

Play Project

This program supports all parents in developing a joyous, mutually beneficial relationship with their children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a way that will help each child reach his/her full potential.

  • Children, including children with autism, learn best through play in the natural environment of the home
  • Classes take place in the home 90% of the time, but can also be done in a classroom setting through TEACH Play
  • Students are engaged in a playful way to promote his/her development


To learn more information about the Play Project at Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Family Support Services

This family strengthening program provides a lifeline to parents of medically fragile and/or special needs children. Each family has access to up to 16 hours of care for ALL their children – and even the pets!

In addition to in-home care, we also provide a monthly “Kids Night Out” event, where families can get some much-needed rest while their children enjoy themed, educational activities right here at Easterseals Happiness House. We provide this monthly event with the help of our many treasured community partners.

Our services for families include:

  • In-Home Respite
  • Center-Based Respite
  • Cope with Hope
  • Parent Support Groups


To learn more about the family support services at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Children's Therapy

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To learn more call 941.355.7637

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy helps people participate in their desired occupations with the therapeutic use of everyday activities, based on the client’s personal interests and needs. Following an initial evaluation, our occupational therapy practitioners can promote independence in areas such as self-care, work, school and play.

Occupational Therapy is used to:

  • Improve sensory processing
  • Develop play skills and leisure interests
  • Improve muscle strength and range of motion
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Increase independence through adaptive devices

Services may be provided on-site at Happiness House, in an outpatient clinic, at a child development center or adult day program, as well as at home, at school and in a variety of other care settings.

To learn more or to begin occupational therapy services, call 941.355.7637.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy services focus on preserving, developing, and restoring physical function that may have been lost due to injury, disease, aging, or congenital abnormality. Based on an initial assessment, our licensed physical therapists incorporate therapeutic exercise and physical agents to encourage independence at work, home, school, and in the community by:

  • Encouraging motor development
  • Improving functional mobility or the ability to move (including bed mobility/transfers and walking)
  • Increasing range of motion (flexibility) and strength
  • Promoting tissue (wound) healing
  • Decreasing pain and swelling
  • Incorporating safety, prevention, and education
  • Promoting fitness and health

Services may be provided on-site at Happiness House, in an outpatient clinic, at a child development center or adult day program, as well as at home, at school, and in a variety of other care settings. State and federal laws determine referral requirements and funding opportunities.

To learn more or to begin your physical therapy process at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Speech Therapy

Speech-language pathologists, also called SLPs, are experts in communication. SLPs work with people of all ages, from babies to adults, and treat many types of communication and swallowing problems. These include problems with:

Speech Sounds—How we say sounds and put sounds together into words. 

Language—How well we understand what we hear or read and how we use words to tell others what we are thinking. In adults this problem may be called aphasia.

Literacy—People with speech and language disorders may also have trouble reading, spelling and writing.

Social Communication—How well we follow rules, like taking turns, how to talk to different people, or how close to stand to someone when talking. This is also called pragmatics.

Voice—How our voices sound. We may sound hoarse, lose our voices easily, talk too loudly or through our noses, or be unable to make sounds.

Fluency—Also called stuttering, is how well speech flows. Someone who stutters may repeat sounds, use “um” or “uh,” or pause a lot when talking. Many young children will go through a time when they stutter, but most outgrow it.

Feeding and Swallowing—How well we suck, chew and swallow food and liquid. A swallowing disorder may lead to poor nutrition, weight loss and other health problems. This is also called dysphagia.

To learn more about speech therapy at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

 

Behavioral Therapy

Our behavior therapy team collaborates with caregivers, teachers and parents to make learning fun and engaging, while also promoting growth and positive development. Interventions are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and are aimed at increasing the individual’s language, learning, and independence. We also help them overcome challenging behaviors by teaching alternatives and increasing flexibility, which leads to better results and happier people!

Goals often seen in plans include: 

  • Increasing requests for things the person wants  
  • Sharing with peers/playing appropriately with peers 
  • Toilet training 
  • Decreasing challenging behaviors  
  • And so much more that are based on the person’s needs! 

To learn more about behavioral therapies at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment that encourages the brain to develop healthier patterns of activity. As a part of their initiative, the Brain Wave Center provides neurofeedback training to the students who attend Lily Preschool. The majority of the children who are positively impacted by neurofeedback meet the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The primary goal of partnering with The Brain Wave Center is to help as many children with disabilities as possible using neurofeedback. The Brain Wave Center is also developing a research project to further prove the effectiveness of neurofeedback with children, as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

To learn more about neurofeedback at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Transportation

We provide daily transportation for students of Easterseals Academy and those who participate in our Adult Enrichment program. We also help with transportation to field trips, employment programs, community-based instruction, job training, volunteer services, and recreational activities.

To learn more about transportation services with Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Easterseals Academy

Easterseals Academy provides exceptional services for students with disabilities and their families across a lifetime by empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest.

Easterseals Academy specializes in serving Manatee and Sarasota County students, through age 22, who are challenged by developmental, physical, learning and mild behavioral disabilities, as well as autism.

Your child’s education experience will be enriched with art, music, performing arts, Spanish, yoga, organic agriculture, nutrition and movement. Our students’ wellbeing is balanced with PT-OT-speech-equine therapies including behavioral and neurofeedback as well as family support. More than special, your child is exceptional and our individualized education plans help to ensure that their progress shines brightly.

To learn more call 941.355.7637

Employment

Easterseals Happiness House Employment Services is committed to helping people with disabilities find meaningful careers. In conjunction with the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, we provide career exploration, job coaching, and supported employment services to high school students attending Easterseals Academy, adults attending Life Skills Development, and community members with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

To learn more about employment services at Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Operation1Stride  

The goal of Operation1Stride is to provide a safe environment for all participants to learn basic horsemanship skills and to promote a general well-being. The program incorporates a classroom and controlled, direct interactions with horses to develop and broaden participants’ horsemanship skills and knowledge.

Participants will experience a variety of emotional benefits:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • An increase in confidence
  • Enhanced relationship skills
  • Improved ability to trust others
  • Restoration and revitalization of their physical and emotional being


Program curriculum covers equine behavior, observation skills, grooming, handling and leading horses.

To learn more about Operation1Stride, call 941.355.7637.

 

Equine-Assisted Learning

Studies have shown that interacting with horses can positively affect a participant’s:  

  • Decision-making and problem-solving skills 
  • Creative thinking and critical thinking skills 
  • Communication and interpersonal skills 
  • Self-awareness and empathy 
  • Ability to cope with emotions and cope with stress 
  • Feeling of empowerment 
  • Ability to develop healthy connections with others

Individual and group sessions are available.
 
 
To learn more about equine-assisted learning with Easterseals, call 941.355.7637.

Victory Garden 

The Victory Garden is an organically operated garden of raised vegetable beds, pollinator beds, and various fruit trees. The goal of the garden is to provide a peaceful natural environment while promoting self-reliance, sustainability skills development and social connections that foster overall healing and wellness. This is a place where people of all ages and skill levels can learn to grow and care for plants.

As an instructional garden, Easterseals Victory Garden is a place to learn new skills like how to amend the soil and add nutrients to the beds, how to plant seedlings and direct sowing beds, plant spacing, watering and companion planting. It also focuses on keeping the garden going, addressing pruning, fertilizing, pest management, staggered planting/seeding and harvesting.

Along with learning new skills, the Victory Garden provides a range of health benefits:

Along with learning new skills, the Victory Garden provides a range of health benefits:

  • Builds self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mood, diet and cardiovascular health
  • Increases hand-eye coordination and mental acuity


To learn more about the Victory Garden at Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

 

Horse and Farm Camp

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To learn more call 941.355.7637

Spring Break Camp

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To learn more call 941.355.7637

Summer Camp

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To learn more call 941.355.7637

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is an immersive and interactive training therapy modality that Easterseals clients use to improve work skills, social and communication skills, hand-eye coordination and on task behavior. Other uses include calming and refocusing environments that when utilized, help our clients to reduce anxiety and focus on their other therapies and training.  

Virtual Reality is available to our Adult Enrichment Program participants and Easterseals Upper Academy students. The technology is used as a tool to help our neurodiverse clients safely experience new environments and practice new skills that will then allow them to enter a job or new experience with much less anxiety and much better prepared to succeed.  

To learn more about virtual reality with Easterseals Happiness House, call 941.355.7637.

Horse Boarding

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To learn more call 941.355.7637

Riding Lessons

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To learn more call 941.355.7637

Lily Preschool

The Lily School for Child Development is a licensed, inclusive early childhood and education program recognized for children 6 weeks to 5 years old. The Lily School utilizes the Creative Curriculum as the foundation of a developmentally appropriate, interactive learning environment that promotes the success of each child by:

  • Building healthy and positive self-concepts
  • Providing opportunities to think, reason, question, and experiment
  • Stimulating individual imagination, creativity, and sense of discovery
  • Promoting language development encouraging sound health
  • Safety, and nutritional habits
  • Respecting cultural diversity

 

To learn more call 941.355.7637

Autism (ASD) Support Services

The Diagnostic Clinic at Easterseals Happiness House provides comprehensive diagnostic evaluations (CDE) to clients aged two through adulthood. We have two licensed clinical psychologists on staff who are qualified to diagnose autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and any disorder listed in the DSM-5. These evaluations equip parents, teachers, and caregivers with the necessary tools to address the varied needs of the clients we serve.

  • Insurance companies require a CDE to approve needed behavioral therapy services
  • Clients receive appropriate recommendations for school and other needed services
  • Doctors utilize the CDE report to provide needed medical intervention
  • Other social services can be made available with a proper diagnosis
  • A sliding fee scale is available to qualifying clients

To learn more about our ASD services, call 941.355.7637.