giraffeOur Team

Aaron Aaron

Aaron DeNardo – OTRL, RYT, CMT – Occupational Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Massage Therapist, Owner/Director

Aaron completed the Occupational Therapy program at San Jose State University in 2002. For his first few years as an OT, Aaron explored working with different populations in a variety of settings. Then he discovered pediatrics and hasn’t looked back since. He has been working as a pediatric OT in the South San Francisco Bay Area since 2004 in private clinics, public schools, and non-public schools. He specializes in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADD/ADHD, regulation challenges, social challenges and learning differences. Aaron with kid Aaron uses a holistic approach, helping children become more aware of their bodies, thoughts, and emotions. Through the use of intense movement activities and creative games, Aaron supports his kids in developing gross and fine motor skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, mindfulness, and confidence. Woven deeply into his therapeutic style is the use of NonViolent Communication (NVC). Aaron has been studying and practicing NVC since 2003 along with many other personal growth techniques and approaches. He has been leading the weekly NVC practice group at The Giraffe since it opened in 2015. NVC helps Aaron connect deeply with his kids so that they feel safe and understood. This place of heart connection facilitates and underlies all of his work. Aaron has received training in the DIR/Floortime Model, Integrated Listening Systems, Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI), Rhymthmic Movement Training (RMT), Brain Gym, Bal-A-Vis-X, Interactive Metronome, SOS Approach to Feeding, HANDLE, Therapeutic Listening Program, Brazelton Touchpoints Approach and Astronaut Training Program. Aaron became a Registered Yoga Teacher in 2019.
Elizabeth Calvetti-Garza Elizabeth Calvetti-Garza

Elizabeth Calvetti-Garza – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Elizabeth was born, raised, and educated right here in San Jose, California. She has 3 children of her own ages 13, 10, and 5. Her Occupational Therapy education comes from San Jose State University where she received both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. Elizabeth has 14 years experience providing school-based occupational therapy to students with special needs in the educational programs of public school districts, private schools, non-public schools, and in-home schooling. Elizabeth has been responsible for interventions with individuals and groups to address specific areas of dysfunction. Elizabeth has administered occupational therapy assessments to determine student’s level of function relative to age and educational placement in: sensory-motor integration, fine/gross motor skill development, and activities of daily living. Before joining LGT, Elizabeth had 7 years experience providing clinic-based occupational therapy having administered occupational therapy program(s) as needed, and 13 years experience peer mentoring. In the course of her work, she was responsible for interns from volunteers through level II occupational therapy students. Elizabeth completed 20 volunteer-hours at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Unit. She completed my Practicum student assignment at Simoneon Pediatric Development Center, observing Cranio-Sacral, Auditory Therapy, and Sensory-integration Therapy, Supervised by Executive Director, Mary Scholer. Elizabeth completed her first required 3-month internship at San Jose Medical Center working with ICU, TCU, Out-patient/In-patient Rehab, and Skilled Nursing settings. Elizabeth completed her second required 3 month internship at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Barbara Aaron’s Pavilion working in acute psychiatric setting.
Alyanna Poniente Alyanna Poniente

Alyanna Michelle Poniente – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Alyanna Michelle received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Stanbridge University. Alyanna discovered her passion for working with the pediatric population when she volunteered for Laughing Giraffe Therapy from 2016-2017. While attending Stanbridge, Alyanna worked part-time at a transitional program for young adults with developmental disabilities. There, she helped foster their independence in life skills, college-level classes, and jobs. Alyanna also served as Stanbridge’s community service co-chair for the honor society of occupational therapy, Pi Theta Epsilon. Alyanna strives to provide family-centered care and believes in play-based therapy and collaboration. Alyanna has experience in providing sensory-based integration strategies and social-emotional strategies to the pediatric population. In her free time, Alyanna loves spending time with her family and friends, playing with her two dogs, painting, playing games, and traveling.

Brandon “Zane” Klassett – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Zane has over 13 years of experience working in pediatric occupational therapy. He discovered his passion for working with children as a gymnastics coach for 8 years prior to and during his pursuit of a master’s degree in occupational therapy. He completed his degree in 2008 from Lenoir Rhyne University in his home state of North Carolina. He has since completed his certification in sensory integration, and is trained in Learning Without Tears programs, Masgutova NeuroTactile Integration, DIR/Floortime, SOS Approach to Feeding, and Wilbarger Protocol. He has worked with children ages 2-21 across various settings, including schools, clinic, homes, community, and gymnastics facilities. He brings experience utilizing Social Thinking and Zones of Regulation curriculum to foster social-emotional development. Zane strives to work closely with parents, caregivers, and teachers to ensure maximum follow-through and optimal results for all of his patients.
Mary Beth Mary Beth

Mary Beth Evans – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Mary Beth’s bio coming soon!
Cassie Cassie

Cassie Tycast – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Cassie’s bio coming soon!
Teresa Ponikvar Teresa Ponikvar

Teresa Ponikvar – Office Manager

Teresa is currently a psychotherapy trainee and graduate student at Santa Clara University. She enjoys guiding families through the process of getting their kids started with OT services.