Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube Refer A Child Donate Now

Meet our Experts

Mindy Doyle-McCall
Physical Therapistmindy

Q: Tell me about your educational background.

A: I graduated way back in 1985 from the University of Colorado physical therapy program. I started my career at University Hospital treating adults and children, but my passion has always been in the area of pediatrics. I spent almost 20 years working in the NICU at University Hospital and at Rose Medical Center in addition to working at Anchor and seeing clients in their homes. I love the perspective all of these different settings gives me.  I feel so fortunate to have had so many years of learning at Anchor, I’ve worked with and learned from some of the best professionals in their fields (speech, OT, vision services, developmental psychology, special educators…) and continue to learn new things all the time. Anchor is such an amazing place to learn and grow!

Q: How did you get involved with the Anchor Center?

A: I came to Anchor just a few years out of college. A co-worker, and still friend of mine, was part of the Delta Gamma Sorority and she would come in every year selling flowers for the Anchor Center for Blind Children (only open for a few years at that point) One day she told me they had asked her if she would be interested in working as a PT for them. She was too busy but asked me if I might be interested. I said why not- and the rest is history! JC Greeley talked with me a bit, had me come in and do an obstacle course activity for the 6 child preschool program (that was the whole program at the time) and I was hired. I didn’t know at the time this was going to be the most profound decision (professional and personal) I had ever made!

Q: What are the high-points and challenges of your job?

A: The high point are definitely seeing kids learn skills that no one really thought was possible. Watching a child take their first steps is always an amazing experience, but when it happens at the age of 4 or 5 it is something you’ll never forget. I love to tell parents not to give up- I see miracles all the time and I never say never.

I also love to help families find their child’s strengths- my favorite saying is “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” This is so true- we just need to help children find their talents and strengths and build on that regardless of their challenges. That is why I love this job! I love to say to parents “look what your child CAN do!”

Challenges are paperwork, documentation, and keeping up with all the things outside of direct services. The red tape and bureaucracy of trying to get children and families the things they need can be frustrating, but I’ve gotten better at it and try to share what I’ve learned with parents and co-workers.

I hate paperwork, but oddly enough I wrote a book! I like writing to educate people so that is why I helped write a book about the ECC with JC Greeley (one of the best TVIs ever!) I wanted to help families help their children and educate other professionals about the importance of certain teaching strategies that are essential for children with vision impairment.

Q: What is the focus of my job?

A: My main goal as one of the Physical Therapist’s at Anchor is to help children learn to use motor skills to explore and learn about their environment. Interaction with people and things in the world is what learning is all about. Regardless of a child’s physical abilities, every child can learn to move and explore, even if it means they need adaptive equipment to make it happen.

I look at what equipment and positioning will help facilitate a child to touch, look, move and just take in the world around them with all their senses. I am a firm believer in child-directed learning and “setting up the environment” so a child can learn in a way that they learn best. This may be choosing the right materials that are easier to grasp, placing materials on a solid blanket so they are easier to see, putting a child in a walker so they can experience the world and move in an upright position or play in a swing to provide movement input that helps a child process all sensory information with more clarity. Couch cushions are one of my favorite pieces of “therapy equipment” I have a whole series of activities that can be done using couch cushions that teach children to prop on their stomach, sit, move in and out of sitting, and get on hands and knees. Another favorite is a laundry basket. I really like to show families it doesn’t take expensive therapy equipment to help your child, just some ingenuity and creativity.

My time at Anchor has taught me to be fewer hands on, move more slowly, focus on the sensory processing piece of learning and break things down into smaller and smaller steps. I know this is not something most pediatric Physical Therapists are trained to do. I take at least one PT student every year for an internship. Over the years I have mentored ~50 students. My hope is that each one of them will go on and use this different approach in their practice. I love when I hear a family at Anchor say- our PT was a student of yours!

Q: How do you see your position growing in the future?

A: I’ve had the privilege of creating this position at Anchor and my hope is to transition the PT role to professionals with the same passion I have for working with children who have vision impairment, especially those with additional motor challenges. This is a unique role as far as physical therapy goes and I love the variety of working with babies and young children, work in a group setting, work with other professionals and work in a preschool environment. The focus on parent teaching and support is so powerful. I really don’t know of any other setting where a PT gets to experience so many different things. It is challenging and rewarding at the same time. I would like to make sure the PT role continues to be valued and expanded as our CVI population grows.

Q: What are the misconceptions about visual impairment?

A: I think the biggest misconception about vision impairment is the notion that most children with vision impairment or blindness are typical other than their vision issues. Problems with the visual system whether it is ocular (just having to do with the eye structures and optic nerves) or cortical (issues with the areas in the brain that process visual information) almost always come with additional medical or developmental challenges. Most children with vision impairment need support in all developmental areas. From my experience over 32 years at Anchor, vision significantly impacts all areas of development, especially early on.  The brain is programmed to learn through vision and even when there is a slight variation in vision, development of motor skills, speech, and sensory processing are all impacted. It truly takes an interdisciplinary team of professionals to help children with vision impairment succeed. That is why Anchor as an institution is so important! We are the only program in Colorado that provides this all-encompassing level of intervention and education to babies and young children with vision impairment.

Q: You head up the TASA team: What is a TASA?

A: TASA stands for Transdisciplinary Arena Style Assessment. Children who are considering Anchor for preschool are evaluated using the TASA format between 2 years 7 months and 3 years. It is very much like the Child-Find assessment the school district does in preparation for a toddler moving into preschool.

However, we are looking much more closely at how a child’s vision impairment is impacting their learning and our reports are written for parents and our preschool team with clear next steps and strategies they can implement at home and the classroom. The team consists of OT, PT, Speech/language therapy, developmental specialists, and a TVI.  It is based on a play-based assessment tool and is very child-directed and play-focused versus a standardized test. We simply watch the child play with one team member “facilitating”. We look at what the child enjoys, how they do with novel toys, what happens if we try to make the play a little more challenging and how do different visual, tactile, or auditory strategies help the child be more successful during play.

Q: What is your favorite success story at Anchor?

A: This is so hard as there are so many! One child that always stands out to me is a little girl with CHARGE, a very complex diagnosis that causes both hearing and vision impairment and comes with significant health issues (cardiac, respiratory…) As an infant she just wanted to be on her back and didn’t want to be touched or moved much. She learned to move in very unconventional ways and we would all watch her in amazement as she seemed to be on the verge of falling all the time but somehow wiggled her way into standing- literally! In preschool, she used a walker then got better at walking with her hands held and one day she was holding a broom (her favorite “chore”) and just started walking, thinking the broom was holding her up but she was just carrying it. This was a child I never would have imagined walking independently when she was in infants and toddlers and here she was walking independently. This is why I never say never!

And just one more story- in 2004 my husband and I were looking to adopt a little girl and had just started working with Jefferson County Social Services. A little baby came into Anchor who was in foster care and as fate would have it we ended up adopting her. Her journey has been challenging and rewarding and she has taught me more than any book, seminar or even my years at Anchor could have!

Return to Meet Our Experts Page.