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.
Alyanna Poniente Alyanna Poniente

Alyanna Michelle Poniente – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Alyanna Michelle received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Stanbridge University. 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. She has a passion for building a strong relationship with her clients and helping them reach their full potential. She is the current lead OT at the non-public school-site, Morgan Autism Center. Alyanna strives to provide family-centered care and believes in play-based therapy and collaboration. She has experience in providing sensory-based integration strategies and social-emotional strategies to the pediatric population. She is certified in Integrated Learning Systems, Julia Harper’s Practical Sense in Sensory Integration, and Brazelton Touchpoints Approach. In her free time, Alyanna loves spending time with her family and friends, playing with her dogs, playing games, and traveling.
Zane

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.
Elana Elana

Elana Carr-Vallimont – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Elana has over 10 years of experience working with children and youth in a variety of settings prior to her career in occupational therapy including schools, psychosocial supportive camp programs, and international non-profit programs. Throughout her varied career paths, she strived to stay true to her inner focus and core values, emphasizing child and youth development through creative self-expression, and the empowerment of disenfranchised communities that serve as a means of healing community, self, and others. She received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy at the University of New Mexico, where her internships focused on mental health utilizing sensory integration, zones of regulation and the development of interoception skills. Her knowledge of how trauma and mental health can re- wire an individual’s nervous system and impact their daily behaviors, responses, regulation, and executive functioning skills enriches her ability to connect with her clients and provide holistic care. These focuses reflect her excitement for how occupational therapy assists individuals in moving towards self-discovery and the building of coping mechanisms and regulations skills that empower and support strength-based ideas of one’s self and goals.
Cassie Cassie

Cassie Tycast – MS OTRL – Occupational Therapist

Originally from Florida, Cassie moved to Texas and then returned to complete her master’s in occupational therapy at Barry University in Miami. She was a competitive gymnast for over 18 years, which led her to discover her passion for the mechanics of human movement and how it impacts health and well-being. This ultimately guided her to the field of occupational therapy, and she loves the potential the field brings to people. Now, she has the pleasure of using movement to promote sensory and emotional regulation with her clientele. Cassie has experience working with children of all ages, ranging from 6 months to 21 years of age with various neurological, neurodevelopmental, and neuromuscular conditions in both the clinic and home environments. She also works with children with sensory-based feeding disorders and looks forward to earning the SOS feeding certification later this year. Cassie enjoys collaborating with families to find solutions to help their children gain independence in their daily lives using play to facilitate skill acquisition and development.
Kyera Franklin Kyera Franklin

Kyera Franklin – Office Manager

Kyera is a Speech and Language Pathology Master’s student at San Jose State University. She enjoys working with children of all ages and has a passion for early intervention. Her love for children started in high school and stayed with her throughout her professional career. Kyera enjoys participating in various volunteer programs and helping nonprofits!