Little Steps Therapy News!

September 2019

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Preschool Readiness Group


WHAT: promotes early learning for children who have not yet met preschool age. The program tries to teach alongside the requirements elementary schools are most currently looking for. Our PRP works with various aspects that try to engage our children socially, intellectually, physically, and emotionally.

The program focuses on hands on activities so children can explore and learn in their environment to create curiosity and promote learning. Social interaction also creates a unique peer learning environment that encourages children to reach their highest potential. Activities are created alongside the children and their needs in order to reach achievement and ultimately academic success.

Our Preschool Readiness Program Practices:

  • Social Interaction
  • Peer Learning
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Pre-writing Skills
  • Pre-language Skills
  • Pre-Reading Skills
  • Math, Science, and Reading integrated activities
  • Aid in transitioning from activity to activity
  • Creating a positive learning environment

AGES: 2-3 years old


Glenview: Friday:

  • Ongoing session: looking for older 2's and 3's (until 9/26)
  • 10:30-12:00
  • Next Session: October 4- December 20 (11 weeks, off Thanksgiving week)

Highland Park: Friday, 9-10:30am

  • Session 1: September 6 - October 25
  • Session 2: November 1 - December 20
HELD BY: Led by: Vanesa Corado (Glenview) and Andrea Brandess (Highland Park).

Speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists aid in the learning of each child.

Highland Park - Social Skills Group


Social skills camp focusing on social communication and interaction


In order to develop self-confidence, improve social emotional skills, enhance functional communication skills, strengthen problem-solving skills and build peer relationships


Group of kids between ages 5-9 (Kindergarten - 2nd/3rd grade)


Thursday’s 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.


Little Steps (Highland Park location)

1442 Old Skokie Valley Road

Highland Park, IL 60035


Stephanie Plein, Speech-Language Pathologist

Call Kaley to register for Groups at: 847-707-6744


Big picture
Boomer will be hanging out with Jaime Neidenbach while she is in clinic. If you are interested in having Boomer be part of your child's session let us know!

Receptive Language Development

By: Lauren Siragusa, CF-SLP

Many parents closely monitor their children’s expressive language development, or their ability to use words in order to express their wants and needs. However, it is also crucial for parents to observe their children’s receptive language development, in other words, their ability to comprehend language used by others. Adequate receptive language skills are important as they help children to participate in daily routines and engage in games with their peers. Listed below are receptive language milestones .

Receptive Language Milestones

12 months

· Follow simple commands occasionally (e.g. “clean-up”)

· Understands simple questions (e.g. “where’s dada?”)

15 months

· Follows one-step commands during play (e.g. “feed baby”)

21 months

· Understands the commands “sit down” and “come here”

24 months

· Follows one-step directions involving unrelated items (e.g. “put the puppy under the table”)

· Follows a two-step related command (e.g. “Get your shoes and put them on”)

33 months

· Follows two-step unrelated commands (e.g. “touch your head and give mommy the cookie)

Below are strategies that can be used to help your child follow directions during daily routines:

·Using the phrases "first" and "then" when you give directions (e.g. "First drink water, then throw ball.")

·Repeating the directions. Give your child a few seconds to process the original directions before repeating.

·Rewording the directions using less words or simpler language. Instead of saying "You have to sit down and put on your shoes right now", try saying " First sit down. Then put on your shoes."

·Pointing or gesturing. Give your child visual cues by pointing when given directions. This visual cue will especially be helpful when directions involve spatial concepts such as "in front" or "on top".

Crafts are a great way to practice following directions. Give your child verbal directions on how to put to together this bumble-bee craft. Remember to use the tips mentioned above!

Benefits of Crawling

By: Sarah Kelly, PT, DPT

Crawling is an essential part of development in babies and young children. We often work on crawling, even if a child skips over this skill initially. Why is it so important? Here are some of the lifelong benefits of crawling.

1. Development of Postural Stability

Children specifically develop stability through their joints including their arms, legs, pelvis, shoulder girdle and spine. They develop the ability to co-contract the muscles surrounding these joints which leads to stability across the front/sides/back of the trunk and extremities. Children first need stability in order to gain mobility. This stability allows for the development of future skills including sitting posture, standing, walking, running, jumping, eating, writing and academic skills.

2. Strengthens areas of body related to breathing, eating, talking

You need your core to be strong in order to coordinate your oral motor muscles for chewing, swallowing, and making sounds. Crawling also strengthens the muscles surrounding the rib cage which leads to improved breath support for talking and endurance during movement.

3. Reflex Integration

Babies are born with specific reflexes that help them to develop specific movements. The ATNR reflex influences the arm movements of a baby in relation to the baby turning their head to the right or left and assists the child in learning to reach. The STNR reflex affects the baby’s arm and leg position in relation to their head position being up or down and assists the child in learning to crawl. Through crawling, these reflexes integrate. Without crawling, these reflexes persist which can lead to difficulty with sitting posture, eye-hand coordination, and academic skills. Reflex retention makes it difficult for a child to sit at their desk and write on a paper while moving his or her head to take in information in front of them from the teacher. They are not able to control their arms and legs efficiently in bent vs. straight positions for the task at hand, but are rather influenced by their head position. This can lead to difficulty obtaining new skills and keeping up with peers.

4. Helps baby learn to transition between positions

Through crawling, babies experiment with weight shifting and changing position of their bodies, assisting in the acquisition of the ability to move between positions like sitting, four-point, their belly and eventually standing positions.

5. Development of bilateral coordination

In order to crawl, babies must learn to coordinate both sides of the body together to crawl forward. They use a specific part of brain called the Corpus Callosum in order to coordinate “cross-lateral” movements used during crawling. This assists in the development of later skills that require the left and right sides of the brain to work together including clapping, walking/running, catching a ball, getting dressed and undressed, riding a bike, holding a paper while writing, and readingand writing.

6. Develops strength through palms during weight bearing

While babies place weight through their palms with their arms extended, they strengthen the muscles in their hands and develop the arch of the hand which is needed for fine motor skills. This assists with grasping, writing and feeding skills. It leads to handwriting skills for life.

7. Assists in visual development

Crawling contributes to strengthening neck and eye muscles. It also challenges baby’s ability to move and adjust their eye movement related to gross motor movement. This helps to improve what the eyes interpret as they work to take in the environment. Crawling also improves the understanding of spatial awareness (depth perception, distance between objects, size discrimination).

8. Improved Sensory Integration

The baby is getting an array of sensory input through crawling – tactile input from touch, vestibular input through movement, deep pressure input from pressure through joints, visual input from eyes, and auditory input from sound. The baby learns to make sense of all of this information simultaneously.

9. Development of body awareness and motor planning

Through integration of the sensory systems while crawling, the baby learns how his or her body relates to the space around them and how to plan his or her movements through the environment.


Ayres, A.J. (2005). Sensory integration and the child: Understanding hidden sensory challenges, 25th anniversary edition (p. 21, 57, 66). Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.

Bahr, D. (2010). Nobody ever told me (or my mother) that!: Everything from bottles and breathing to healthy speech development. Arlington, TX: Sensory World.

Franzsen, D. and Visser, M. (2010). The Association of an Omitted Crawling Milestone with Pencil Grasp and Control in Five- and Six-Year-Old Children. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy 40(2), 20.

Hadders-Algra, M. (2005). Development of postural control during the first 18 months of life. Neural Plasticity, 12(2-3), 99-108.

Nichols, D. (2005). Development of postural control. In Jane Case-Smith (Ed.), Occupational therapy for children, 5th edition (p. 279). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Randolph, S. and Heiniger, M. (1994). Kids learn from the inside out: How to enhance the human matrix (p. 117). Boise, ID: Legendary Publishing Co.

Parents often wonder -why do Occupational Therapists work on core strength?

By: Kristy Getty, MOT, OTR/L

Well, core strength is important for developing fine motor skills. Many OTs will often use the term “proximal stability before distal mobility”. This means that we must have strong core muscles to have functional use of our arms and legs. Core muscles are at the center of our body, so they act as stability and as an anchor for the rest of our muscles. This is especially important when it comes to fine motor skills. When completing a fine motor task (for example picking up a cheerio or coloring with a marker) the muscles in our body act as a chain, starting with the core muscles to the tiny muscles of our hand. Many children who struggle with fine motor tasks often have a weak core. It is important to work on developing core strength along with hand, arm, and shoulder strength in order to complete the intricate movements that comes along with tying shoes, buttoning, picking up a small game piece, or self feeding.

How to recognize weak core muscles:

- Leaning on the desk at school while completing writing assignment

- “W”-sitting (feet are pointed back creating a W with the knees and hips)

- Poor posture when sitting or standing

- Becoming tired easily with fine motor or gross motor tasks

- Leaning on furniture or people around them

- Difficulty transitioning from one position to another

- Difficulty standing or stabilizing the body during dressing tasks

Core strengthening activities to try at home

- Playing in four point (crawling position) when completing puzzles or reading a book

- Yoga poses

- Playing a board game while in a tall kneel position

- Coloring with paper on a vertical surface (taped to the wall)

- Animal walks and wheelbarrow walks around the house (bear crawls, crab walks, inch worms)

- Crawling through a tunnel or over pillows to create obstacles

- Tummy time for all ages – playing while laying on your tummy