Joan Surfus, OTR/L, SWC, received her degree in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University in 1990. She is now enrolled in a doctorate program in Occupational Therapy at Misericordia University. Her focus of practice has been in pediatrics, with an emphasis in feeding and oral-motor/dysphagia and sensory integration. Joan is certified to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT). She received her advanced practice credential by the California Board of Occupational Therapy in the area of Swallowing Assessment, Evaluation, and Intervention. She teaches regularly on this subject both nationally and internationally. Joan is currently a part-time faculty member at three universities, where she teaches in the areas of sensory integration, dysphagia, child development, and pediatric intervention. She is also an OT supervisor and oral motor specialist at Pediatric Therapy Network in Torrance, California. Joan spends the majority of her free time volunteering abroad in Ethiopia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Romania, and Russia. In 2011 she received the “Humanitarian of the Year” Award from the California Foundation for Occupational Therapy for her extensive volunteer work around the world, including her many trips to Russia for Firefly.
In 2009, Joan volunteered for Firefly for three weeks in Kazan and St. Petersburg, where she lectured on feeding, eating, and swallowing, and modeled therapy treatment on several children.. In November 2011 she returned to Russia for another week-long training, this time in Nizhny Novgorod.
Below, Joan (at right) helps a young child in Kazan improve her ability to swallow.