The story behind Playwell

Playwell co-founders, Sarah Laryea and Lori Porcelli bonded through lengthy conversations while driving house to house providing therapy to children across DC. In a fortuitous moment at Far East Taco Grille they learned that Thays Lizaso, Playwell’s third partner, shared the same underlying philosophy for childhood development. Together they identified two shared principles: 1. that many developmental delays in children could have been prevented or lessened if addressed early on and 2. that many caregivers understood what milestones to expect for childhood development but were seeking insight on the “why?” and “how?” behind activities such as tummy time and speech development. The “aha moment” was realizing that playcould help identify early developmental challenges and also address caregivers’ questions. 

At Playwell, we are moms and pediatric and pre and postnatal therapists. Combined, we have several decades of experience in speech language pathology, occupational therapy, infant massage, lactation consultation, and pelvic floor therapy. We use our expertise to give caregivers and pre and postnatal women the information they need to enhance their children’s development and promote whole family wellness.

As parents, we understand that you want to give your child the best opportunity, and we’re here to help.



Sarah Laryea, M.S. OTR/L, CEIM

Sarah Laryea, co-founder and co-owner of Playwell, is an occupational therapist with over a decade of experience working with young children. She specialized in motor skill development, cognitive development, and sensory system/regulation for children. Sarah is also a licensed baby and child massage therapist. Through Playwell, Sarah is excited to offer caregivers and children a nurturing environment to spend time together and utilizing play to enhance children’s development. 

Sarah has over twelve years of extensive pediatric experience spanning from embryology through to childhood development. She has spent her career working with babies born prematurely as well as infants and toddlers in the communities with a variety of developmental delays. Her career has allowed her to work with various areas for growth including: hypotonia, hypertonia, sensory modulation disorders, general cognitive delays, difficulty with feeding, and general movement disorders. Earlier in her career, Sarah was instrumental in the development of preventative and wellness care at George Washington University NICU. In 2010, she helped to establish  GWU's full-time NICU program.

Sarah holds an M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University,B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a certified Educator of Infant Massage.

Sarah is a mother of two and post-pregnancy developed back and hip issues. After working with a physical therapist, she found relief and discovered utilizing these techniques made for a much easier recovery postpartum.  She wanted to share this knowledge with other moms along with providing education and support relating to common questions and concerns, such as “Is this normal?”, "My baby doesn't like tummy time?", "Why does his ankle look like that?”, and "Her head is starting to get really flat on one side?". These concerns helped Sarah to forge the idea prevention is paramount and that this knowledge needs to be shared. 

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running, drinking coffee, anything near the water, messy play with her kids, and trying new restaurants.


Lori Porcelli, M.S., CCC-SLP, IBCLC

Lori Porcelli, co-founder and co-owner of Playwell, has over seven years experience as a speech-language pathologist working with infants, toddlers, and school-age children and is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Lori specializes in early intervention for feeding and language delays and has worked with children across the development spectrum. 

Previously, Lori worked with infants and toddlers in the community, charter and public schools, and a local area NICU. 

Lori holds a B.A. in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College and an M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Howard University. 

Pregnancy, postpartum life, and the demands of going back to work with a breastfeeding baby led Lori to seek out the advice, help, assistance, and camaraderie of other mothers and professionals, including a massage therapist and physical therapist. These experiences are a key factor in Lori's desire to start Playwell.

In her free time, Lori enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, weekend trips to visit with friends, trying new vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants, visiting playgrounds and parks, reading, and attempting to be crafty. 


Thays Lizaso, M.A. CCC-SLP

Thays Lizaso, co-owner of Playwell, has over seven years of experience as a Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist. She is licensed both in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thays has experience working with infants and toddlers in early intervention as well as working in both public and charter schools with ages ranging from elementary to high-school. Thays is from Miami, Florida and is a native Spanish speaker. She is fluent in English, Spanish and is conversationally fluent in American Sign Language. She enjoys utilizing her skills as a bilingual speech-language pathologist while working with children and families from diverse backgrounds and cultures.  Thays specializes in working with multilingual families, English language learners, the early intervention population (birth - five), children with developmental delays, children and adolescents with articulation disorders, children with difficulties in feeding and swallowing, children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and children and adolescents with learning disabilities. 

Thays holds a B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Family, Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida and an M.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Central Florida. During her time at the University of Central Florida, Thays served as a lead research assistant where she developed key data regarding the effects of digital textbooks in middle school children. 

In her free time, Thays enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants with her husband, reading, taking barre classes and listening to vinyl records with a cup of coffee in hand.