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Meet Aparna Guttery MA, OTR/L of RelaxPack

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aparna Guttery MA, OTR/L.

Aparna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
For over 15 years, I have been a Pediatric Occupational Therapist specialized in supporting the development of children with special needs. I have a private practice here in Orange County, and I absolutely love what I do. I’m regularly rewarded by the smiles on my patients’ faces, the light in their eyes, and to top it all off, the hugs and high fives I soak up each time they discover what they can accomplish.

My area of expertise is working with children with sensory processing differences. In a nutshell, this refers to children who become overwhelmed or meltdown in response to everyday experiences. The feel of having their hair brushed, the touch of their clothes, the sounds of a busy restaurant, the lights and distractions of a classroom, or the taste of certain foods and food textures are examples of triggers that can lead to an over-reactive response.

This is explained by the fact that they perceive the experience in a more magnified and heightened manner than others do. These sensory processing differences can often be associated with Autism, ADD/ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorders, Emotional Disorders, and sometimes exist without having a formal diagnosis.

An important aspect of my therapy is empowering children and their parents with tools and strategies to overcome these triggers. In my experience, a parent would literally have to lug around a suitcase to have immediate access to all the effective calming tools they would need at any given time. These items can include weighted blankets, compression vests, fidgets for their hands, comforting stuffed animals, tools to chew on for comfort, noise canceling headphones… and the list goes on and on!

I knew there had to be a better way to help these children and their families. This was the journey of how RelaxPack, the Sensory Backpack came to life! I took the functionality of an everyday children’s backpack and enhanced it with unique and patent-pending soothing features, so children can have access to soothing comfort on the go.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
RelaxPack’s journey has been a long one with many twists, turns, and learning curves. It started as an idea over five years ago and was followed by several years of creating, adapting and revising.

To see RelaxPack now as a finished product is so gratifying, as it has been a true labor of love. It began with my initial prototypes, which were born from make-shift modifications to store-bought backpacks. Based on research and years of clinical experience, I narrowed down which features would bring immediate comfort and effectively soothe. I would hand sew these sensory features to test out and see what worked and resonated with the kids I was trying to help.

When this process felt daunting, I was fortunate enough to have the support of some amazing occupational therapists, developmental specialists, families, and children who helped guide and shape this project into something really incredible. In hindsight, I’m forever grateful to have met some very special people along the way.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Honestly, what I am most proud of is bringing a product to the market that is life-changing for children, as well as their families. Every day, I witness and hear stories of the daily struggles these children and families face, to the point that is just surviving the day can feel like a victory. I knew there had to be something better out there that could really make a difference.

I searched endlessly for a concept like RelaxPack, a Sensory Backpack, as it made so much sense to me as a therapist and as a parent. The idea of a therapeutic product combined with a functional everyday item, such as a backpack, became more and more of an obvious union. When I could not find a product that checked all the boxes I had in my mind, I knew I had to be the one to spearhead the effort to create one.

It’s been a long journey with highs and a few lows, but my belief that RelaxPack will truly help make life better for so many children and their families inspires me to keep going.

What were you like growing up?
As a young child, I was shy and rarely took risks. It was much easier to blend in rather than to stand out. Yet, I had a vivid imagination and loved to play. Growing up, when I realized that there is a profession out there where I can help children learn skills and achieve developmental milestones using play as the teaching vehicle, I knew this was my calling.

As the years went on and I became more experienced in my practice, I realized that standing up and being a leader for something I whole-heartedly believed in was not as overwhelming as I would have once felt as a child. Knowing that I could play a hand in improving everyday life for a population of children I care deeply for, has ultimately been my driving force to become an entrepreneur with a mission.

Pricing:

  • RelaxPack, The Sensory Backpack $89.99

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Mandy

    February 5, 2019 at 16:51

    A much needed product for our kids in need. Wishing you success.

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