Children FIRST Therapy has a long history of success and a bright future for growth and continued success in preparing children to reach their fullest potential because of the incredible therapists and early childhood development staff that are a part of our team. Our therapists provide the highest quality, most up-to-date physical, occupational and speech therapy to our kids. Our staff are all degree-level educated and provide incredible preschool education and family resource support.
Executive Director/Certified Teacher
Director of Finance
Nichole Bergam is the director of Children FIRST Therapy. She is a teacher with a Reading major and an Early Childhood Education minor from Eastern Washington University. Nichole has been a part of the Children FIRST Therapy for 10 years. She has been an Early Childhood Teacher for 14 Years. Her passions are toddlers and nurturing family relationships.
Nichole was a student teacher in a first grade classroom and has taught in ECEAP and kindergarten in the Central Valley School District. She is expanding her education with graduate courses in Special Education and regularly attends additional training in the field.
Nichole enjoys spending time with her family. She is a dog lover, and an avid yard-saler.
Diane Saggau has been part of the Children FIRST Therapy program since 1999. She has her BS in Business Management and over 25 years' experience in business and finance. Diane is also the Executive Chair on the Spokane County Inter-Agency Coordinating Counsel working with other providers in Spokane County in the decision making processes for our birth to three community.
As the parent of a child with disabilities, Diane brings added compassion to her work with families and is able to directly relate to the challenges they are facing.
Carol completed her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy at
San Jose State University in California. She has a passion for working with children and families specializing in pediatrics for the past eighteen years.
Carol has experience working in public schools, early intervention, private practice, home health and pediatric outpatient settings. She is certified in Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing and Therapeutic Listening. Carol has attended additional courses in sensory processing, neurodevelopmental training/NDT, feeding strategies, visual deficits, autism/ADHD, Alert Program and Handwriting Without Tears
Mariah is an Occupational Therapist who was born and raised in Nine Mile Falls, Washington. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. She has experience in a variety of settings including early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, acute care, and inpatient rehabilitation. She believes in providing family-centered, play-based therapy to enhance sensory, fine motor, visual motor, and cognitive skills. Mariah has a passion for helping children successfully engage in meaningful activities, and she looks forward to celebrating each small victory with the families she serves.
In her free time, Mariah enjoys traveling, reading, baking, playing with her dog, exploring the outdoors, and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Speech Language Pathologist / Feeding Therapist
Carissa is a SLP who graduated with her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Illinois State University and bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences & Disorders from the University of Illinois. She has 8 years of experience working with children (birth to 18) in clinical, school, and home settings. Carissa is especially passionate about working with the birth to 3 population, as it allows her to closely partner with a child’s family and aid in early communication development. She also has an interest in feeding, and has been trained in the SOS Approach to Feeding. Carissa is an Illinois native, but made Washington her home two years ago. Outside of work, Carissa enjoys being active and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two young boys.
Occupational / Feeding Therapist
Rachel graduated from the University of Washington and has been an Occupational Therapist since 1996. She has experience working with children of all ages in a variety of setting across the Western US, but has a special love for providing services to little ones and their families in early intervention. Rachel has additional expertise in Feeding Therapy and regularly guest lectures and consults on the topic; she enjoys helping families improve feeding and mealtimes. She also has additional training and interest in sensory processing, assistive technology, and neurodevelopment.
After receiving her doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2011, Rachel served as academic and clinical faculty in different programs, most recently at Eastern Washington University. She continues to teach in the Master of Occupational Therapy program at EWU in adjunct capacity. Rachel coordinates the Go Baby Go Spokane program which provides opportunities for independent mobility through adapted ride-on cars.
In her free time, Rachel loves all kinds of Travel. She also loves to get outdoors, cook, garden, read and see live music. Rachel has a therapy dog in training, Linus, who loves just about everything and everyone.
Melissa Reamer is a SLP who received her master's degree in Communication Disorders and Deaf Education from Utah State University. She earned an emphasis in Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) through additional coursework to support children who are deaf and hard of hearing (DHH). Melissa has over 12 years of experience working with children from birth to age 18 in clinical, school and home settings. She feels passionately about early intervention and its benefits to children and families. She has a family-centered approach and believes that primary caregivers are the most valuable asset to a child's growth and development. Her belief is that behaviors are communication, and she strives to support children in obtaining healthy relationships and strong communication skills to achieve their highest quality of life. Melissa stays current in her field through professional development and related coursework to support the whole child and the families who love them.
Speech Language Pathologist
Lauren is an SLP who was born and raised in Walla Walla, WA. She received her Bachelor's degree in psychology from Whitworth University with an emphasis on counseling before completing her Master's degree in communication sciences and disorders at Eastern Washington University. Lauren is passionate about using both of these degrees to come alongside families and look at the whole child while empowering families to support speech and language development at home. Lauren has experience in early intervention and inpatient and outpatient pediatric speech therapy. Lauren feels strongly about the importance of incorporating play into therapy and in helping families to use play to foster stronger social connections and build foundational skills in speech and language. Lauren is certified to administer the STAT Assessment, an empirically derived, interactive measure developed to screen for autism in children between 24 and 36 months of age. She is also trained in the SOS approach to feeding. Lauren loves living in the PNW and enjoys cooking, skiing, spending time at the lake and exploring new restaurants or farmer’s markets with her family and friends. She also loves dogs and loves finding any opportunity to incorporate her dog, Eevee, into therapy sessions.
Kristen is a Physical Therapist who received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Pacific University in Oregon in 2019. Born and raised in the Bay Area of California, but has lived in Spokane for the last 14 years. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology at Eastern Washington University in 2013. After graduating, she spent 3 years expanding her experience within the physical therapy field and working with children. She volunteered within the community with adaptive sports for children and completed a service trip to New Zealand working in an integrated school for children with special needs.Through her extensive volunteer and clinical experiences, her passion for pediatrics continued to grow and she gained skills working with children of every age and their families in outpatient orthopedics, early intervention, NICU, and post-NICU follow-up settings. She loves finding fun and creative ways to best meet the needs of young children and their families and is excited to begin her career as a pediatric therapist at Children FIRST Therapy. Kristen enjoys living an active lifestyle with her fiancé and dog exploring the Pacific Northwest, spending time at her family cabin on Lake Coeur D' Alene, cooking new recipes, reading, playing and watching sports, going to concerts, and spending time with her close family and friends.
Amy was born and raised in Edmonds, Washington. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Biology from the University of San Diego in 2015, where she was also a member of the women's rowing team. She moved to Spokane in 2016 to attend Eastern Washington University's Doctor of Physical Therapy program, which she graduated from in 2019. She was introduced to pediatric physical therapy during her education at EWU, and has experience in early intervention and inpatient and outpatient pediatrics. She is excited to start her career as a pediatric therapist at Children FIRST Therapy. Amy enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, watching cooking shows, and spending time with her friends and family.
Allyson Blackhart has a BSN with over 18 years of nursing experience. She has worked in a variety of direct patient care environments including family practice clinics, specialty care clinics, hospitals and surgical environments. Throughout her work experience, she has cared for many adult and pediatric patients and their families. Allyson has performed intervention skills, communication and education on treatment options, to establish a direct plan of care while meeting ongoing needs for her patients.
Allyson regularly attends continuing education classes to further he knowledge in different nursing roles. She plans to advance her education for nursing case management and specialize in family and pediatric needs in coordination of care as a nurse liaison.
Currently, Allyson holds a license as a Registered Nurse in Washington State.
Family Resource Coordinator/Teacher
Medical Records/ Insurance PreAuth. Specialist
Michelle Lease is our classroom teaching assistant. She helps all of the therapists in any way they need throughout the day. Michelle is a great asset to our classroom with her terrific craft ideas for the kids for fine motor tasks and her gentle, soothing demeanor for those children who have difficulty adjusting to being away from mom for the first time.
Michelle is also assisting in the Business Office with Medical Records and Preauthorizing Services .
Michelle enjoys photography, spending time at her Cabin on the river and time with her family.
Family Resource Coordinator
Emie Goates is a Family Resources Coordinator and Development Specialist. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a certificate in Early Childhood Development with endorsements in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English Language Learners. She also holds her Washington State Special Education Teaching credential. Prior to coming to Children FIRST Therapy, Emie taught Kindergarten-2nd grade in the public schools. Emie lives in Spokane with her husband and two sons. She enjoys being outside in the summer, swimming, cooking, and being with her family.
Family Resource Coordinator
Caitlin Selle is one of our Family Resource Coordinators with a background in office administration and accounting. After taking a break from the workforce to raise her two boys, she was excited to join the Children FIRST Therapy team. Her passion for helping children achieve their greatest potential has benefited her own family as well as her local elementary school for which she volunteers regularly. She also participates in a local preschool co-op with several local Spokane families.
She enjoys the outdoor recreation that Spokane offers and has lead hiking trips with local child-focused hiking groups. An avid photographer, she enjoys taking pictures of nature and people alike. Outside of work, you will find her spending time outdoors with her husband and two boys.
Shannon Hughes is the Family Resource Coordinator for Children First Therapy. After attending Eastern Washington University, she graduated with a BA in Elementary Education; major in Reading and minor in Special Education. She completed her Masters in Educational Leadership at Concordia University of Portland, and Administration Credentials at Whitworth University.
Shannon comes to us after teaching Middle School for 12 years in a rural school. She enjoys spending time with her family, coaching volleyball, and baking all sorts of treats.
Additional referrals for Behavioral, Vision, and Hearing Services are available through off-site contracted agents.