First Bite #180 – April 13, 2022

Messy Play, PFD, the Schools, and You

(.1 ASHA and AOTA CEUs) For more info, click here.

Course Description

In this episode, Michelle and Erin are joined by ToniAnn Gambella Loftus, MS. CCC-SLP/TSSLD, and Liza Bernabeo, MS CCC-SLP/TSSLD, both of whom are DIR®/Floortime™ certified, to discuss the evidence behind implementing messy play for treatment of pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) in the schools. Are you a school-based clinician new to the world of PFD? Or, are you a seasoned veteran who is new to the world of child-led and play-based therapy? If you said yes to either question or fall somewhere between, this is the episode for you! Join ToniAnn and Liza as they share how they established a child-led, play-based PFD treatment program within their school…and how it opened doors for dynamic and adventurous eaters to walk through!


By the end of this PodCourse, participants will be able to identify and describe:

  • Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD) and the therapeutic interpretation of play.
  • 3 strategies to implement play into treatment for pediatric feeding disorder.
  • 3 evidenced-based resources to learn more about play and its therapeutic role.


Erin Forward, MSP CF-SLP

Erin currently resides in Greenville, SC but grew up in Rochester, NY where her family still resides. Erin attended the University of Pittsburgh for her Undergraduate degrees in Communication Science and Disorders and Psychology, and completed her Master’s degree in Speech Pathology at the University of South Carolina. She has worked in a variety of settings including early-intervention/home-health, NICU in a children’s hospital, and an outpatient feeding clinic. Erin currently works for a non-profit outpatient speech clinic, where she specializes in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders.

Erin is the Co-Host of the wildly acclaimed PodCourse/PodCast “First Bite: Fed, Fun, Functional a Speech Therapy”, sponsored by Erin is passionate about engaging in interprofessional practice for her patients and advocating for attainment of functional independence for patients and their families, all done with a little bit of fun and joy. She believes that if you tell a child they can do something, they can do it, which is what makes working with children so rewarding, as they inspire her every day.


ToniAnn Gambella Loftus, MS. CCC-SLP/TSSLD

ToniAnn Gambella Loftus, MS. CCC-SLP/TSSLD has been working with kids with special needs in some capacity using a variety of interventions and methodologies since 2006. She received her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Seton Hall University and her undergraduate degree from Meredith College. ToniAnn has a special interest in feeding and hearing. She has been working in the DIR®/Floortime™ model since 2011. She is expertly trained in DIR®/Floortime™ and teaches coursework through the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning. Mrs. Loftus is an active member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and has presented at their conference annually since 2015. ToniAnn is the owner of Seaport Speech and Feeding in New York, New York.


Liza Bernabeo, MS, CCC-SLP/TSSLD

Liza Bernabeo, MS, CCC-SLP/TSSLD received a B.S. in Communicative Disorders and Sciences from the State University of New York College at Geneseo and her masters in Speech-Language Pathology from Adelphi University. Her special interests include expressive and receptive language disorders, oral motor & feeding, DIR®/Floortime™, and neurodevelopmental communication disorders. Liza has been working within the DIR®/Floortime™ model since 2012. Liza is expertly trained in DIR®/Floortime™ and teaches coursework through the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning.