Many Connections. One U.

Alumni Profile

on September 18, 2012 by Janet Edwards

Maryville couple run business making “Leaps & Bounds” of difference

Occupational therapists Lisa (FitzGerald) Cooseman,  ’00, ’02, and Matt Cooseman, ’00, met as students at Maryville, and now they work together as co-owners of Leaps & Bounds, a pediatric therapy center in St. Peters, Mo., that employs more than 20 full- and part-time therapists and assists about 220 children a week.

Lisa Cooseman, 35, co-founded the business with another therapist, Carrie Salyer, seven years ago. Carrie’s husband Rob is also a co-owner of Leaps & Bounds, which specializes in assisting children with sensory-processing concerns. The center works with children from birth to age 18. Some have autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or attention issues. “We have a fair number of children who come in without a medical diagnosis, but who are struggling,” Lisa Cooseman explains. In those instances, therapists often work with children’s doctors to recommend a treatment diagnosis; they provide therapy so families receive the help they’ve been needing.

“The truth of the matter is we all process sensory information differently, but we don’t all need therapy,” she says. She suggests that children could benefit from therapy at Leaps & Bounds if the way they process the world around them affects their daily functioning, their learning, and their socializing. Children with sensory-processing concerns experience the world in some different ways than others do. Lisa Cooseman says a light touch on the arm may feel like a sharp nail to a child with a sensory-processing disorder. Daily activities, like eating a meal, reading or writing may be very difficult.

At Leaps & Bounds, there are rooms of specialized equipment to help children work on many skills, including their balance, their spatial awareness and their bilateral coordination, which is the ability to use both sides of their body effectively for a skill.

The Coosemans say they’ve worked with a child who was almost kicked out of school, but was able to return with therapy and progressed well. After therapy, other families have described the first time the whole family had enjoyed a vacation without a child screaming or crying. Or telling of when a child who was limited in the clothes he or she would wear, because it was a new sensory experience, started to wear jeans.

Parents often come to Leaps & Bounds when their gut tells them something isn’t quite right with a child, but when others just tell them they should be a tougher parent or engage in more discipline. The Coosemans say that’s usually advice from people who don’t realize that these children are understanding and interpreting the world in a different way on a fundamental level. Matt Cooseman, 36, just started working full-time at Leaps & Bounds this past summer after previously working for a school district. “Working with our staff is really rewarding. We foster a family environment, and everyone helps everyone out,” he says. Lisa Cooseman also is an adjunct professor at Maryville.

The couple, who have two children of their own —Brayden, 5, and Reese, 2—say Leaps & Bounds offers an initial consultation for free, where families can talk with a therapist to see if a child may benefit from the services Leaps & Bounds provides.

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