Little Steps Pediatric Therapy News

December 2019



*SPACES LIMITED: GLENVIEW & HIGHLAND PARK* - Only 3 more weeks of this session!

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.

The teachers come up with monthly themes with correlating projects and stories

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:

  • October 4-December 20
  • 9:00-10:30 (younger 2's)
  • 10:30-12:00 (older 2's & 3's)

Highland Park: Friday, 9-10:30am

  • November 1 - December 20
  • Boomer will be coming to group too! :)

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.

8 Strategies to Help Kids Wear Winter Clothes

By: Devin Mahoney, MS, OTR/L

Winter has arrived and in Chicagoland that means it’s time to break out the winter parka and snow boots. What about our kiddos who despise wearing their winter hat, refuse to put on gloves or become anxious/overwhelmed when putting on a big, puffy jacket?

One reason for this opposition to wearing winter clothes may be due to difficulties with sensory processing, specifically tactile integration. The tactile system is one of the sensory systems in the body whose main function is to take in and process all touch sensation including light touch, pain, temperature and pressure. It helps us to perceive what is touching our bodies and to discriminate where it is touching us. It also helps to notify us of possible danger and sends our nervous system into fight or flight response. When a child’s tactile integration is impaired it can cause the nervous system (brain) to be overstimulated and decreases the organization and regulation of touch input. This difficulty with processing tactile information received from the body often presents itself as an inappropriate response or behavior. For example, a child may have a meltdown i.e., screaming, crying, kicking, when putting on a heavy winter coat. Numerous things may be contributing to this response, including, but not limited to, hypersensitivity to tags in clothing, dislike of various textures and sensitivity to heat or cold.

How can we address these difficulties and help kids dress for those chilly, below zero days?

Listed below are various strategies to help children wear winter clothes:

  1. Introduce winter clothing items early and get your child comfortable with them. Try reading a social story with pictures about how/why we dress for winter weather, or practice by dressing a doll or stuffed animal in hats, coats, scarves, etc., in order to increase exposure to these specific articles of clothing.
  2. Provide autonomy with dressing. Make the experience fun for your child and facilitate a positive relationship with winter clothing. One way to do this is by taking a trip to the store and allowing your child to pick out a new winter coat, hat, etc. This helps him or her to be excited about the activity and allows for more freedom within the otherwise structured task of getting dressed. This is especially beneficial for our younger kids who are developing their sense of independence.
  3. Create a routine. Try using a visual schedule for the overall dressing process, with pictures of each step (ex: first coat, then hat, then mittens). This helps the child know exactly what to expect with the task and provides tangible structure, which can reduce stress/anxiety from the “unknown.”
  4. Focus on the fabrics. Try washing clothes in hot water multiple times before wearing to soften the fabrics/textures. Try fabrics like fleece and flannel and avoid more textured or scratchy fabrics like wool or polyester blends.
  5. Add layers. Adding layers can provide deep pressure input which helps to calm the sensory system. Wear tight compression garments under shirts or pants. An Under Armour shirt or bike shorts are a great way to provide this compression. Knee high socks are also another way to add pressure and prevent socks from falling down in boots which can create wrinkles that may be bothersome and overwhelm the tactile system.
  6. Use versatile clothing items. Try clothing that can be adjusted based on the temperature to avoid overheating. A puffy vest can be used to add layers for warmth if a coat is too overwhelming. Fingerless gloves or mittens can allow the child to use their fingers freely and avoid the feeling of being contained in a glove or mitten. If your child has no issues with wearing a baseball cap but cannot handle having a tight winter hat or beanie over their ears, try a baseball cap style trapper hat. This hat looks like a baseball cap, but it also has ear flaps that can be buttoned up or left down to provide warmth and protection to the ears.
  7. Incorporate tactile play into everyday activities. Tactile play assists with strengthening the tactile system and helps to decrease sensitivity to touch stimuli. Tactile play activities include, playing with kinetic sand, rolling, ripping, squeezing playdoh, drawing shapes and letters in shaving cream, exploring tactile bins full of beans, rice, dry pasta, etc.
  8. Add proprioceptive input via “heavy work” to the daily routine. These “heavy work” tasks consist of pushing/pulling against resistance to provide increased input to the muscles and joints that helps to organize/calm the central nervous system. Have your child perform animal walks down the hallway to where coats and boots are kept or push a laundry basket full of the entire family’s winter clothes for increased resistive input.

It is important to remember that there are likely various reasons a child may be resistant to wearing winter clothes; poor tactile integration is just one of the possible causes. If you have any questions or concerns related to this topic it is best to consult with a professional, like an occupational therapist, who can evaluate all aspects of the child in order to best understand and address this issue.

Toy Recommendations to promote Language Development in Toddlers

By: Sarah Vogt, MS, CF-SLP

1. Avoid electronic toys

Children are often attracted to toys that light up and make sounds. While these can be lots of fun, these are not typically the best option when working on language development. Research tells us that babies communicate less when playing with these types of toys. It’s best to choose traditional toys that don’t do anything on their own as this encourages the child to be more creative and make the toy come alive through their own play. Research suggests that the sounds electronic toys make can fill up space that would normally be used for meaningful back-and-forth communication exchanges between the child and their parent. If you do have electronic toys at home, you can always take out the batteries.

2. Follow your child’s lead with toys

When playing, it’s best to follow your child’s lead during play. Remember that it’s okay if the child isn’t playing with the toy in the way it was intended. For example, if your child is stuffing toy figurines into the shape sorter, that’s okay. We want to do what is interesting to the child and build off of their play rather than direct their play.

3. Less is more

Research tells us that fewer toys at a time is related to better quality play. Having just a few toys available helps children to play with a toy for a longer period of time and be more creative with how they use that toy. If you have lots of toys at home, it is a good idea to rotate out the toys. You can keep a few toys out and put the rest in storage and then switch them out about every month.

4. Pick toys at your child’s level

Take a moment to observe your child while they play. Take note of what they are playing with and how they are playing with it.

There are four main stages of play that they might fall into:

- Simple: If they primarily hold toys or put toys to their mouth you can start with some simple play ideas like rolling a ball or pushing a car.

- Combination: If they are using two or more toys together in play you can use toy sets with many pieces or can combine several toy sets together. For example, you can build a house for toy people with Magnetiles, or cut toy food apart with a play knife.

- Pre-symbolic: If they are acting out familiar routines such as drinking from a toy cup, or feeding their dolls, you can join them in this play and add to it. Pick toys like puppets, dolls, animal figurines and stuffed animals and use them to act out other basic actions that are part of your everyday routines like walking, sleeping, or taking a bath.

- Symbolic: If they are setting up multi-step play schemes and pretending their toy has a life, you can build on this play by using other familiar items such as a toy brush, mirror, toothbrush, or bed to act out other familiar routines. Another example of this would be using a toy cake during play. You can decorate the cake, sing happy birthday, blow out the candles, cook the cake in a toy oven, and then pretend to eat the cake.



Snowball Roll

By: Sarah Kappers, SPT - physical therapy student on clinical at Little Steps

· What you need: scissors, colored construction paper for making parts of the snowman, a ball

· How to play: Use construction paper to cut out large parts for a snowman, including circles for the body, a carrot nose, a hat, eyes, scarf, and arms. Have your child sit on the floor and roll the ball to the first part needed for the snowman, and continue until the snowman is completed.

· Make it easier: Sit closer to the paper objects.

· Make it harder: Use a weighted ball for extra strengthening or a balloon to challenge hand-eye coordination.

Topple the Snowman

By: Sarah Kappers, SPT

· What you need: empty boxes of any size, white paper, markers, any other art supplies to decorate your snowman

· How to play: Use art supplies to decorate boxes to look like a snowman when they’re stacked. Once the boxes are decorated, have your child stack them in an open space in the right sequence to make a snowman. Decide a starting point on the opposite side of the room and instruct your child to move in different ways to knock down the snowman.

· Ideas for how to move: Walk sideways, walk backwards, scooter in sitting or on tummy, crab walk, bear crawl, wheelbarrow walk, log roll, jumping on one or two feet, frog jumping

Indoor Skating

By: Sarah Kappers, SPT

· What you need: paper plates, duct tape, music

· How to play: Give children two paper plates to put under their feet. If the plates slide out, use duct tape over their shoes to help the plates stay on. Turn on music and let them pretend to be a speed skater or figure skater.

· Make it easier: Have your child hold onto a table or your hand to help them balance.

· Make it harder: Try going faster, slower, turning, or freezing when the music stops.