July 8, 2024

Jill Lagace, MS, OTR/L, now an occupational therapist at The New England Center for Children, started her career at NECC more than 10 years ago as an intern. She was nominated for Staff Spotlight because she “has a strong foundational understanding of how her services support the students across all aspects of their lives. Jill does an outstanding job of collaborating with all members of the student’s team. She is supportive to staff and present to thoroughly assess and teach. I know that I can rely on Jill to select meaningful targets that will help our students to be more independent in current and future vocational opportunities and activities that enhance their quality of life.”

How long have you worked for NECC?

I have worked at NECC as an occupational therapist (OT) for the past two years. Before I became an occupational therapist, I worked in various positions at NECC, beginning in 2014 as an adaptive physical education (APE) intern. After my internship, I worked as a level 2 teacher in the residential program and then took an opportunity work abroad at MRC-NECC in Abu Dhabi. In 2017, I left NECC to attend OT school but worked part-time as an OT covering for a maternity leave in 2021-22. Shortly after, in 2022, I returned to NECC as a full-time OT.

Why is OT an important part of the students’ education?

School-based occupational therapy focuses on students’ abilities to participate as successfully and independently as possible in their environments. OTs help foster independence through skill development such as fine motor, visual motor, sensory, activities of daily living, and more!

What is your favorite part of your job?

The most enjoyable aspect of my job is engaging with the students. Whether I’m instructing a student on how to cut their food or organizing a group activity in the student center, each day presents a new challenge.

Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?

My involvement with the Special Olympics organization during my college years is when I developed a passion for working with individuals with disabilities. However, it was during my internship at NECC that I grew to love working with individuals with autism.

 Why NECC?

Through my early experiences as an intern and teacher, I developed a strong appreciation for the collaborative team approach to supporting student progress. When a position as an OT became available, I knew I wanted to return.

What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

They might be surprised to know that I have a twin brother.