The idea of IFSN started in the spring of 2014. After talking to many parents of children and teenagers diagnosed with different disabilities, I concluded that many of these children did not participate in weekly extracurricular activities. The parents expressed frustration that many of these programs did not or would not accept their child because of his/her diagnosis. I then asked the children and teenagers about their interests and the extracurricular activities in which they participated. The most common response I received was that they spent most of their after school time playing video games and/or watching TV. This was disappointing because these activities are both solitary and stationary.
Extracurricular activities are an important part of a child’s social and motor development and every child should have the opportunity to participate in one. To make this a reality, I developed a program that bridges the gap between the instructors in the Boulder County area and the children/teenagers with special needs to provide these children/teenagers with the same opportunities typically developing them are given.
Natalie C. McKechnie, OTR/L is the founder of IFSN. She received a B.A. from Colby College in Music and Mathematical Science in 2004, a Masters of Music from University of Wisconsin in Piano Performance and Pedagogy in 2007, and a Masters of Science from Boston University in Occupational Therapy. She moved to Boulder in 2011 and splits her time between providing pediatric occupational therapy services, teaching piano lessons and managing the IFSN program.
Growing up in Vermont, she was involved in many extracurricular activities, including piano, skiing, tennis, figure skating, soft ball, and field hockey. Natalie strongly believes that participating in these weekly activities developed important foundational skills, such as organization, socialization, communication, a sense of self, motor planning, strength and flexibility, coordination, and confidence. Her mission with IFSN is to provide individualized sports, music, fitness, performance, and art classes to children and teenagers with learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, developmental disabilities, and physical disabilities.
Her role as the founder and occupational therapist of IFSN is to oversee the partner programs, increase communication between parents and instructors, and successfully progress the participant through his/her partner program class.
To help each participant successfully and actively engage in each class, Natalie attends the partner program classes as needed to provide sensory integration techniques, cue appropriate social behavior, and adapt or modify the class structure or environment. Contact Natalie
The Parent Advisor
Cherie Eickmann is the parent advisor of IFSN. She is the mother of two boys and one girl who have different diagnoses and disabilities. Her daughter has an apraxia diagnosis, which means that she struggles to execute coordinated and purposeful movements, including the movements used in speech. Cherie has found that finding other children like her daughter to organize play dates, signing her daughter up for extracurricular activities, and giving her daughter “typical” experiences was difficult and frustrating.
Cherie’s role as the parent advisor of IFSN is to connect parents of children and teenagers in the program. She initiates social interactions and/or play dates between participants to increase social communication and establish peer relationships. She also provides insight, feedback, and suggestions to parents who have questions about their child’s functioning at home, at school, or with peers, and how having a child with a disability or special needs impacts their family.