Meet Our Team
Talk Sense in Bryanston Sandton is run by Vicky McDermott and Taryn Rutenberg and has been operating from its current premises in Ballyclare Drive since 2008. Prior to this the practice was based at The Talk Shop Pre-school until larger premises were required. Our early intervention therapy team now includes Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Play therapy and a Magic Blox Life skills programme for children. We also run a Baby Clinic for At Risk Infants, offering support for parents who may have concerns with regards to their baby’s development.
Vicky is a co-owner of Talk Sense. Since qualifying from Wits University in 1995, she has been passionate about developing as an Occupational Therapist, as she is about working with and helping children to grow and develop. She is an experienced Sensory Integration and Neuro-Development trained therapist, who has also completed her basic training in DIR/Floortime, completing the course for professionals through Profectum in the USA. Thus her professional development is now on a new path of focusing on the emotional connection and relationship with the child and using the DIR Floortime framework. She is passionate to share this with as many families as possible. She works through building a strong relationship with the child and family, carefully considering the unique individual makeup of the child and specifically adapting her interventions to the child. Vicky has a special interest in working with children under 5 years of age, specifically those with relational and language difficulties. She trained in Sensory Integration while working both in Kerry Wallace and Candace Brown’s practices, Vicky loves family time, traveling and the great outdoors!
Nicole is an Occupational Therapist (OT) who qualified from the University of the Witwatersrand.
She has worked extensively in both public and private sectors with a variety of patients. Through her diverse work experience, she has developed a special interest in working with children aged 0 to 13 years with a focus on improving their independence in daily occupations. Her therapy is carried out in a nurturing and playful environment in order to encourage confidence in your child’s abilities. This enables the skills to be carried over into the school and home environment.
During her career, she has had the opportunity to work with a number of experienced therapists with a diverse knowledge base. She values a holistic approach to intervention in order to maximise the efficacy of therapy and promote the development of skills within all spheres of your child’s life. She feels it is important to include family members and relevant caregivers as much as possible in the OT process. Regular discussion regarding progress and aims in therapy as well as the continued evaluation of therapeutic techniques are aspects that she values highly. This assists in monitoring and optimising progress made in therapy.
She also believe in continuous professional development and strives to develop her skills and knowledge through a variety of courses tailored to her interests in therapy. She is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa and the South African Institute of Sensory Integration.
Fields of interest include:
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Sensory integration difficulties
- Autism spectrum disorders
She grew up in the south of Johannesburg and went to high school at Parktown High School for Girls. During her spare time, she enjoys running, training at gym and has recently started rock climbing. Being creative in the kitchen and baking keep her busy on occasion.
Wendy is a seasoned Psychologist who has over 20 years of experience. Her practice caters for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties, and includes parental counselling and multi-disciplinary networking.
- Psycho-educational assessments, including cognitive tests of information processing and examination accommodations
- Play therapy, to help children deal with their thoughts and feelings
- Group therapy for children, to facilitate acquisition of interpersonal skills using an action-orientated approach
- Parent-infant therapy with mother, father and their under-five year old, to assist in their ‘getting-together’ as a family unit
Before Wendy trained as a Psychologist, She was a volunteer counsellor with Anglicare, and an honorary Psychometrist at the Paediatric Psychiatry Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. She completed her postgraduate study in psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand (1987 – 1990), and served 18 months internship at a remedial school in Johannesburg. She continued to work at the remedial school for a further four-and-a-half years before going into private practice.
Primary training was with children and adolescents with learning challenges and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a particular interest continues to be the early identification and intervention of children with learning difficulties. Over the years other areas of specialisation have developed, for example, play therapy for children using a psycho-dynamic approach, and group therapy with children and adolescents. Wendy is particularly interested in early identification and intervention of children with learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties. In this regard she welcomes the opportunity to present talks at schools and associations.
Wendy is particularly interested in early identification and intervention of children with learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties. In this regard she welcomes the opportunity to present talks at schools and associations.
Shannon qualified as an Occupational Therapist at Wits University in 1992. She furthered her studies and is a certified Life Coach and Phono-graphix Reading Therapist. She has also developed a Study Skills course, which she uses to train children and teenagers. She has a passion for helping children who are struggling at school after seeing the challenges her own children faced at school. She has extensive experience in working with children with learning difficulties from mainstream, remedial and special needs schools. Her focus is children from 4 – 18 years of age, equipping them with strategies to help them succeed. She combines sensory integration, occupational therapy, life coaching, reading therapy and study skills techniques in order help children overcome their difficulties. She believes that it is important to work developmentally establishing a good foundation for academic skills. She sees each child as a whole and likes to work together with parents and teachers in order to support the child. She is a fun-loving, creative person who enjoys spending her spare time with her family.
Taryn is a co-owner of Talk Sense. She grew up in Centurion and completed a BSc. Occupational Therapy at WITS. After she completed her studies she worked as a locum OT at Hope School and then went to the USA and worked as a camp counsellor in Cincinnati, at a special needs camp. On her return she worked in various private paediatric practises between Pretoria and Johannesburg for a few years. She settled into private practise based at the practise of Kerry Wallace as well as at Cedarwood Remedial School. Later she moved to The Talk Shop Pre-school for Speech and Language delays and was part of their therapy team for twelve years. She has a passion for working with special needs toddlers, including those with speech and language delays and autism spectrum difficulties. Her areas of experience are based on the sensory integration model and she completed her SIPT training in 2009. She is married, with two children and they live together in Bryanston. She loves spending time with her friends and family, relaxing outdoors and living life to the full!
Lauri is an OT who qualified from the University of Cape Town. She has always been passionate about working with children and is currently specialising in sensory integration therapy. Her interests lie with children between the ages of 3-8 years old as she strongly believes in early intervention.
She started working as a locum Paediatric OT at a private practice at Grantleigh School in Northern KZN. She then continued to work at various private and government paediatirc practices in London, UK. This experience has developed her skills in educating, advising and working hands on with families, schools and caregivers, so that continuous input can be carried over and implemented in all environments of the child’s life.
Lauri loves outdoor activities, spending time with family and friends and experiencing new adventures.
Amy obtained her BscOT degree at the University of the Witwatersrand and completed her
community service year at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (BARA) where she
developed an interest in neonates, infants and babies. In 2017 she attended the University
of Southern California in Los Angeles to complete her Sensory Integration course. Upon
returning to South Africa, she entered private practice and has a special interest in early
intervention for children between the ages of 0-5years.
Amy is trained in the SOS (Sequential – oral – sensory) approach to feeding. This approach is
used to assess and treat children from birth who have feeding, weight or growth problems.
Amy also does hospital work at Netcare Parklane hospital as well as Mediclinic Morningside
and loves to engage in community service projects, travel and bake.
Basheera qualified at UCT as an Occupational Therapist in 2007. She has since had the experience of working with children of different abilities and their families in communities, hospitals, non-profit organisations and private practices. Basheera is a trained and certified neuro-developmental therapist and has a special interest in sensory integration. She is the founder of Diketo Inclusive Education, an organization that supports and trains Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners and primary school teachers on how to build inclusive play and learning spaces. In 2018, Basheera was nominated by News 24 as one of the “100 Young Mandela’s of the future” based on her work with children and their families.
Nicky is a neurodevelopmental physiotherapist. She qualified from WITS in 1989 and went onto complete her Masters degree in Traumatology in 1992. Nicky has enjoyed working in many different areas of physiotherapy ranging from Intensive Care to Acupuncture. In the last 10 years Nicky has specialized in working in Paediatric neurology. Nicky works with children with a wide range of conditions from Cerebral palsy to developmental delay. The focus of her work as a physiotherapist is on gross motor development and in helping each child to reach their full potential. Nicky works on building up the children’s confidence and self esteem as well as their physical ability.
Nicky completed her Basic NDT training in 2002 and has done many other courses since then. Her most recent training is in MAES therapy, which is the latest technique available to therapists to analyze and treat children with Cerebral Palsy and other neurological disorders.
Nicky is married with two teenage children and lives in Morningside. Nicky is a keen sportswoman, and believes in keeping fit and healthy.
Nicky has completed and is certified to assess neonates using” Prechtl’s method on the qualitative assessment of general movements.” This is a technique where we can screen babies from 34 weeks post menstrual age to 4 months post term and is very accurate in the early prediction of Cerebral Palsy in at risk infants. This includes babies who are of low birth weight, premature or born with a hypoxic episode. Please contact Nicky if you are concerned about your baby as the tests are non invasive and do not require the therapist even to touch the baby, just to analyse the babies movements by means of video clips.
Olivia Thomet and Associates (Speech Therapy Practice)
This practice was established in 2008 by Olivia Thomet-Brown, as a pediatric-based Speech Therapy and Audiology practice with the focus to assess and provide therapy to babies, toddlers, children and adolescents as well as guidance and workshops to parents/care-givers and teachers. They currently have 5 therapists working full-time at the practice and are collaborating with many schools/therapy centers/practices alike where they provide a multidisciplinary team therapy approach. Kim Brewis and Dominique Freeborough are the speech therapy team that is based at Talk Sense.
Speech and Language Therapist
Olivia studied at the University of the Witwatersrand receiving a dual qualification in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She has a keen interest in Pediatric Speech Disorders, Pre-School and School-Aged Language, Communication, Auditory Processing, Phonological Awareness and Literacy Difficulties. She has been further trained as an Independent Phono-Graphix Reading Therapist and has attended many courses pertaining to the above areas of interest.
She runs Olivia Thomet & Associates Private Practice in full capacity and the core of the practice is multi/trans-disciplinary work with all team members involved. They pride themselves of “thinking out the box” and utilizing skills acquired from their vital team members. They have collaborated with many allied health professionals across schools and therapy institutions/centres and believe that case-conferencing is of the utmost importance.
Speech and Language Therapist
Dominique Freeborough qualified as a Speech-Language Therapist and Audiologist from the University of the Witwatersrand. Whilst studying, she developed a keen interest in rural rehabilitation, where she continued to do her community service at Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge. Since then, Dominique has developed an interest in early intervention and childhood language development, especially between the ages of 3 and 10 years. Dominique promotes a holistic approach to therapy that includes parents, teachers, and therapists in order to provide optimal care for a child.
Speech and Language Therapist
Catherine completed her Bachelor in Speech Therapy and Audiology at the University of Stellenbosch. After qualifying, she spent a year working at The Hope School for Physically Disabled Children where she met Taryn. She thereafter moved over to London and worked for 10 years in both the Pre-School Clinic and Mainstream School settings. Over the years she has developed a special interest in stuttering and has worked with children of all ages. She received this specialist training at the Michael Palin Centre (MPC) for Children for Stammering Children. She also completed the Lidcombe Program, which is an Australian based stuttering intervention. She also gained experience in the early intervention sector after completing the Hanen Program, which is aimed at parents with children with language delays. After returning to South Africa she set up her own Pre-School based practice. She also worked at The Talk Shop in a private capacity where she developed experience with Verbal Dyspraxia and more recently Dyslexia. She enjoys trail running and mountain biking. She loves nothing more than spending time with her family and taking their dogs for a walk. Her other interests include reading and cooking up a storm.
Remedial and Reading Therapist
Kristy decided that she wanted to be a teacher when she was 5 years old and since then has followed her dream. She completed a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Pretoria, specialising in English, Biology and Remedial Therapy. She then went on to do her honours in Learning Support. She was a facilitator at a Remedial school, before becoming a teacher at a mainstream school for 5 years.
Kristy is currently using her studies and years of experience as a Remedial and Reading Therapist. She is passionate about supporting children with barriers to learning. Her aim is to re-ignite a love for reading and assist children to reach their full potential in all areas of learning.
Speech-Language Therapist and Audiologist
Anthea graduated as a Speech-Language Therapist and Audiologist from the University of
the Witwatersrand in 2004. She completed her Community Service year working in both
clinic and hospital settings on the West Rand.
Anthea worked as a Speech-Language Therapist and Audiologist in England from 2006-2008.
She focussed on the diagnosis and management of paediatric and adult hearing loss, and
developed her special interests in preschool speech and language disorders; feeding
difficulties; Autistic Spectrum Disorder and complex special needs.
Upon returning to South Africa in 2008, Anthea worked part time at a preschool for children
with speech and language difficulties. At the same time, she established her private practice
focussing on paediatric speech-language therapy and audiology.
Following the birth of her two children, Anthea began focussing on her private practice in a
full time capacity. She is passionate about early intervention and currently works with
children presenting with a wide range of difficulties. These include feeding problems,
Dyspraxia, articulation and phonological difficulties, language and literacy learning
difficulties, Auditory Processing Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, syndromic
abnormalities and aural rehabilitation. She believes in assisting children and their families to
reach their potential as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Magic Blox 4 Life: Life Skills Coach Facilitator
Julie launched the Magic Blox 4 Life course in January 2013, following successful pilot programmes since 2010. She has a background in business and spent 15 years building a successful career in the corporate marketing sector. Although she was successful in what she was doing, it felt more like a means to end than making a meaningful difference to herself or the world. She loves being creative, is naturally good at helping others work towards solving their own problems and naturally enjoy teaching – and learning from – children. When she put all these things together her ideal career was created – life coaching for kids. The seed for Magic Blox 4 Life had been planted, so she took the first big step by changing her job to be more aligned to her end-goal and completed a Diversity Training course. Once certified, she worked for the Diversity Institute facilitating workshops with adults in corporate companies, teaching them how to embrace and accept diversity in their lives and careers. In the background she completed a teacher training Life skills for Kids program to combine with her ‘day job’ experience into creating a Life Skills course for kids.
Since launching in January 2013, it has been an incredible journey for Julie and Magic Blox 4 Life and she has continued to learn with each course.
Julie describes her life today as being awesome! She has a wonderful husband and three amazing children who have grown up to be happy, confident, caring human beings. Her eldest daughter is a teacher and assists her with the Magic Blox 4 Life workshops. Her other daughter is at university studying to be an Occupational Therapist and her son is in high school. She believe that the skills she has learned over the years in her various training programmes, being a mother and now running Magic Blox 4 Life courses, continually helps her to create a healthy, happy life for herself and her family.