Therapy is child’s play

By Elizabeth Troutman {Oldham Era} visit website
Published 02/28/08

Along with crumbles of goldfish crackers, juice boxes, a bin full of multi-colored balls and tiny chairs only fit for toddlers, there’s plenty of noise inside the colorful walls of The Chatterbox, a therapy service for children.

The house on Ky. 329 in Crestwood, complete with a backyard garden, shed, porch and stocked kitchen, provides a warm alternative to the stale office environment of some therapy services. The rooms are scattered with building blocks, books and stuffed animals, and each wall in the renovated house is a different color.

Oldham County natives Kristie Lindemier and Julie Murray have built up an unflinching tolerance for the clatter of kids through their professions in child therapy and motherhood. When they earned their master’s degrees in counseling at the University of Louisville, both talked about starting a therapy center together. Years later, after marriages, children and careers, the two rekindled that dream in Oldham County.

“We love chaos,” Lindemier said. “The more the better.” Murray, who owns the building, boasts The Chatterbox as Oldham County’s first diagnostic, early education and therapeutic center for children ages birth to 7. Services include occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and early intervention programs.

Murray’s son, Jacob, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth. Working with Jacob has also inspired Murray to help assist families in the education and development of children living with a disability. Lindemier stressed that the entire family should be educated and involved in the development of a disabled child. She often works with the parents of an infant, instructing the family on how to encourage speech development and motor skills when they are with their child.

Murray and Lindemier are starting small group classes for children developing typically and children with developmental disabilities. These combined classes promote acceptance and establish a productive learning environment for both types of children. The classes, which are limited to six children, prepare children for kindergarten and learning at age 3.

There are people in the community who want their child to be synthesized,” Lindemier said. “We want to teach empathy.” They’ve acquired a waiting list for classes. Most referrals come from local pediatricians, and they believe Oldham County was in need of child therapy center.

Murray bought the house in June, and most of the renovation took place in July. They started with about 20 patients, and now are treating about 100 in the home and on outpatient calls. The Chatterbox employs 10 certified therapists.

Emily Lomax, a certified therapist who specializes in educating deaf children and developmental intervention, teaches many of the classes at the center as well as outpatient appointments. The classes are two hours and include group activities, snack time and free time. “Each kid has their own goals, mainly social goals,” Lomax said. Lomax said the classes, which are geared toward children ages 2 to 3, prepare children for success in kindergarten and preschool. She also teaches group classes for 4-year-olds on Fridays.

The therapy services are supported by First Steps, a early intervention program funded by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Lindemier said they hope to acquire non-profit status this spring.