As a student in Alvernia’s occupational therapy program, Mary Strausser MSOT ’08 did not anticipate a career that centered around children.
“I remember telling my classmates I had no interest in working with kids,” she recalled. “I thought I’d be perfectly happy with adults.”
Fast forward 15 years, and Strausser, now 38, has changed her tune. Completely.
“I can’t imagine now not working with kids,” she said. “It opened up my clinical world in a completely different way.”
Strausser, with two business partners, owns two franchises of Gym-Jam Therapeutics, Inc., a learning center serving children with autism and other special needs. The facilities offer services including applied behavioral analysis (ABA), speech therapy, occupational therapy, social skills groups, and parent training.
The centers, which accept insurance and medical assistance, are located in Pottsville, the home of Alvernia’s recently opened Pottsville CollegeTowne, and Frackville, both in Schuylkill County. They serve children and families from a wide geographical area.
Strausser’s change of heart regarding her career path began nearly a decade ago when she had the first of her four children, a son who suffered from medical difficulties and experienced some developmental challenges.
Locating services for him was not easy, as resources near her home were sparse at that time. When she eventually succeeded, she was delighted with the benefits her son experienced from the therapies he received.
“I saw the proof that getting good quality services early on can change a child’s life, and the family’s life,” she said.