Little Steps Pediatric Therapy News

November 2018


Chicago Clinic is up and running! We are excited to be treating in our new space.

1945 W Wilson Ave,

Chicago, IL 60640

The holiday season is quickly approaching! As a friendly reminder, please tell your therapists if you will be out of town for the holidays so we can rearrange our schedules as needed. Thanks!

Prematurity Awareness Month:

By: Brittney Ferrone, PT, DPT

November 17th is the fourth annual World Prematurity Day and November has been deemed Prematurity Awareness Month! The March of Dimes has led activities in November as part of its Prematurity Campaign since 2003. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the rate of premature birth in the United States and raise awareness regarding the issue(1). For the month of November, you can wear purple to help represent and increase awareness to the issue of prematurity.

Facts regarding premature birth(1):

· Premature birth and its complications are the number one cause of death of babies in the United States

· In the United States, about 380,000 babies are born premature each year

· About 1 in 10 babies are born premature in the United states


Importance of Tummy Time!

By Brittney Ferrone, PT, DPT

Don’t be afraid to spend too much time your tummy!

While it may be intimidating to place your young infant on their tummy, it one of the best and most important positions for their gross motor development. Remember that all tummy time for your baby should be supervised. That means that when they are awake and playing on their tummy, you should be watching them and actively engaged. If they fall asleep, roll them to their back for the safest sleeping position.

Frequently asked questions regarding tummy time:

How long should my child play on their tummy?

  • You can never perform too much supervised tummy time with your child. When they are awake and playing, they should spend more than 50% of the time working on skills on their stomach.
  • For example, if they are awake for 8-10 hours total each day then they should spend no less than 4-5 total hours playing on their belly for that day.

My child cries immediately once I put them on their stomach. Are they in pain? Can tummy time cause any harm?

  • No, your child needs to be exposed to time on their stomachs to be able to develop strong head and neck muscles and progress their gross motor skills. It allows them to build up the strength to be able to eventually roll, sit, crawl, and stand. Too much time spent lying on their back can lead to flat spots on the back of their skull (also known as positional plagiocephaly).

What is my child getting out of tummy time?

  • Tummy time helps to strengthen their back, neck and core muscles and builds a foundation for their gross motor milestones. (2)
  • Tummy time helps the baby feel different textures on their stomachs, arms, legs, and arms and exposes them to new tactile sensations. (2)
  • Tummy time helps them begin to gain awareness of their bodies and begin to develop their vestibular systems due to the sensory input. (2)
  • Tummy time helps develop hand and eye coordination by the baby looking down at their hands and seeing how they move. (2)

· What are some ways to mix up tummy time? (3)

  • Tummy time on a blanket/play mat on the floor: This is the simplest and most well-known ways to perform tummy time. Place your child on the floor on their belly. You can lay on the floor with them to bring your head level to theirs. You can place mirrors on the floor or propped against the wall so your child can look at themselves as a distraction. You can place noisy and light up toys on the floor at eye level to give them something distracting to look at.
  • Tummy to tummy: Place your infant on top of your stomach. You can vary your positioning (i.e. laying on the couch, sitting in a chair, reclined in a chair, laying on the floor). This allows the child to bond with you, feel the sensation of your skin on theirs, and feel comforted by you. This is an easy way to introduce your new born to tummy time!
  • Tummy time on your lap: Place your infant horizontally across your legs while you are sitting on the floor or couch. You can assist with calming the child by rocking your legs from side to side. You can also place your child vertically across your legs to vary the positioning as they began to gain control of their head and neck muscles and are able to hold up their head independently.
  • Tummy time on a rolled-up towel or boppy pillow: Place a rolled-up towel horizontally underneath your baby’s chest. The towel should be placed across the baby’s nipple line. As they get a little older/bigger, you can place them on top of a boppy pillow with the bulk of the pillow beneath their upper chest.



Frequently Asked Questions - Autism

By: Christine Mendoza, SLP

I recently attended a continuing education class on High-Functioning Autism (Proven & Practical Interventions for Challenging Behaviors in Children, Adolescents & Young Adults) held by Heather Dukes-Murray, Ph.D. I think it’s safe to say that we all hold some curiosity about the disorder, it’s related conditions and hands on interventions we can practice. So here, I have listed some frequently asked questions along with information that I find helpful.

What is Autism?

- Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social and communication skills (e.g., attention, social reciprocity and challenges with verbal/nonverbal communication) with the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors (e.g., repetitive speech, motor movement or use of objects, difficulty with change in routines, restricted interests and hyper – and/or hypo sensitivity to sensory input).

What causes Autism?

- There is not one cause of Autism.

- Research suggests that Autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental influences.

How common is Autism?

- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates Autism’s prevalence as 1 in 59 children in the US.

- 4 times more common in boys.

What are the symptoms of Autism?

A person with Autism may not understand or appropriately use:

· spoken language

· gestures

· eye contact

· facial expressions

· tone of voice

A person with Autism may have difficulty with:

· recognizing one’s own emotions

· recognizing others emotions

· expressing emotions

· seeking emotional comfort from others

· feeling overwhelmed in social situations

· taking turns in conversation

· gauging personal space

A person with Autism may experience restricted and repetitive behaviors which include:

· repetitive body movements (e.g., rocking, flapping, spinning and running back and forth)

· repetitive motions with objects (e.g., spinning wheels, shaking sticks and flapping levers)

· staring at lights or spinning objects

· ritualistic behaviors (e.g., lining up objects, repeatedly touching objects in a set order)

· narrow or extreme interest in specific topics

· need for unvarying routine/resistance to change (e.g., same daily schedule, meal menu, clothes and route to school)

What should I do if I suspect that my child might have Autism?

· Talk to your doctor.

· Talk to your teachers/educators.

· Contact Early Intervention services to get your child screened.

How do I help my child?

· There are many treatments that can help a child with Autism overcome developmental challenges. This starts with finding a knowledgeable healthcare team (doctors, psychologists, therapists, behavior specialists and teachers).

· Once you have a team in place, they can help provide appropriate interventions.

Learning vocabulary can be fun!

By: Christine Mendoza, MHS, CCC-SLP

Grab your jackets and rakes and head outside – while the children are working and playing in the leaves, talk about what’s happening and things you see. For example, you can teach:

· nouns – jacket, rake, tree, branch, leaf, acorn, bag

· verbs – walk, rake, throw, dump, jump

· present progressive - ing – walking, raking, throwing, dumping, jumping

· adjectives – big, small, dry, wet, smooth rough

· colors – red, orange, yellow, green, brown

· prepositions“put the leaves IN the bag,” “let’s throw the leaves UP in the air” and “look at the leaves falling DOWN”

You can incorporate the same ideas with other fall outings/activities such as apple picking, baking an apple pie, picking pumpkins at the pumpkin patch and/or baking a pumpkin pie!

Following directions can be fun too!

For this activity, all you need are 4 items including:

· leaves of different shapes/sizes

· construction paper

· paint

· paint brushes

Set the activity up so there are various steps for the children to complete. Older children may benefit from verbal or written instructions, while our younger ones may benefit from picture instruction.

First, and most importantly, use your imagination!

Second, take the brushes and dip them into paint.

Third, brush paint onto leaves.

Fourth, Press leaves onto paper, creating a masterpiece!

After, you can talk about what you did first, next and last.

Simple tips to help with picky eating

By Heather Milligan, MS, OTR/L

  • Use positive language at meals time. Only say no if the situation is dangerous, use terms like “ food stays on the table” verse “ no throwing”
  • Let your kids get messy during meals, don’t continue to wipe their hands and face or scrap your child’s face with a spoon to get the last bite. This may not feel good to them and it interrupts the positive meal experience
  • Discuss how new foods are similar and different to preferred foods: color, smell, texture, sound it makes when you bite it, taste/flavor.
  • Encourage kids to cook with you
  • Take them to the grocery store with you. Allow them to smell and touch the different foods

Simple ways to make changes to preferred food without making too big of a change that your picky eater won’t try it. This well help bridge the gap to new foods.

  • Change the color: have little ones add food coloring to batters, noodles, and rice dishes, you can go 1 step further puree a fruit or veggie and have them add that.
  • Use cookie cutters to change shapes of foods
  • Use different shaped noodles, serve mixed or next to preferred shape.

Fine Motor Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving

By: Heather Milligan, MS, OTR/L

Materials for Fine Motor Turkey Craft

Directions for Fine Motor Turkey Craft

1. Paint your styrofoam with brown paint and let it dry completely.

2. Now the fun part- use your mallet to pound golf tees all over your half sphere to represent turkey feathers.

3. Once your child is done adding golf tees to the turkey, it’s time to add your turkey head. Cut out two circles from brown construction paper, an orange triangle, a red waddle, and two eyes. (We used googly eyes.)

4. Glue your pieces together.

5. Attach your turkey head to the styrofoam body. You might have to remove a couple golf tees to make room for the head.

Big picture

CRANBERRY CRAZY!!! (gross motor game)

By Brittney Ferrone, PT, DPT

o How to play:

  • Each child will choose a gross motor card including activities like jumping, backwards walking, standing on one foot, etc. They must complete the activity while balancing a handful of cranberries on a spoon and then transport all of the cranberries to their cup.

o Alternatives to cranberries: pom poms, marbles, M&M’s, cotton balls