Little Steps Pediatric Therapy News

April 2018


Welcome to the NEW Little Steps Newsletter.

We are excited to launch a monthly newsletter that will be informational and fun for your family. We will include upcoming events, announcements, and themed activities/crafts to enjoy with your little ones. Also, our therapists will provide discipline specific knowledge about a variety of topics.

Fun Facts:

April is Autism Awareness Month and national occupational therapy month.


We are excited to announce that we are expanding to Wilmette in Mid-May/June:

1123 Greenleaf, Wilmette, IL 60091

Preschool Readiness Program -
see below for further detail. If interested, please contact Steve at or call 847-707-6744 for registration info

Bike Camp

Bike Camp is coming back to Little Steps!

What: Bike camp is a week-long camp, Monday-Friday from about 3:30-4:30 where children will learn various skills in order to become successful at independently riding a bicycle. Camp will take place outside, weather permitting. Children will need to bring a helmet, bicycle and water bottle. Short evaluations will be taking place in the months prior to bike camp in order to place your child with a group of children with similar abilities, learning styles etc. in order to provide your child with the best opportunity for success!

Who: Children ages 4 and up who want to learn how to ride a bike this summer.

Where: Several bike camps will be running throughout the summer at the Glenview and Highland Park Locations.

Glenview: 41 N. Waukegan Rd. Glenview, IL.

Highland Park: 1442 Old Skokie Rd. Highland Park, IL

When: To be determined. The goal is to have at least 1 bike camp each month from June to August.

New members of the Little Steps team

Preschool Readiness Program

By: Vanesa Corado

The Preschool Readiness Program at Little Steps 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

What is Occupational Therapy?

By: Melissa Duncan, MS, OTR/L

Since April is Occupational Therapy month, here is a little insight to what occupational therapy can provide for children:

Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on helping children achieve independence in all areas of their lives. OT practitioners work with children to promote active participation in activities or occupations that are meaningful to them. For children, occupations are activities that will help them learn and develop life skills (i.e. preschool and school activities). Therapy focuses on a child’s fine motor, visual perceptual, visual motor, bilateral coordination, emotional regulation, executive functioning, and sensory processing.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014).

Spring sensory play activity:

Tactile sensory play enhances learning by stimulating a child’s senses. Through sensory play, a child can explore and develop practical life skills (i.e. scooping and dumping) and other valuable play skills. Sensory play supports cognitive development, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving, language development, and social interaction play. Below are two fun options for children of all ages!

Physical Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder

By: Courtney Gilbert, student of Physical Therapy completing her clinical rotation at Little Steps

It is estimated that almost 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and it is five times more common in boys than girls. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder than can cause significant social, behavioral, and communication challenges that can affect gross motor development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ASD is the fastest growing developmental disorder. Children with ASD are often delayed in developing gross motor skills. ASD is typically diagnosed at or around 4 years old. By this age, physical limitations are becoming more amplified as children are matriculating into daycares and schooling. Socializing with other children may also be difficult due to motor delays limiting children with ASD’s ability to engage in age appropriate activities. One study showed that 62% of children with ASD displayed delays in motor development that were seen before age three in 85% of children with ASD.

Children with ASD might:

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Have difficulties transitioning from a routine
  • Engage in repetitive behaviors
  • Have obsessive interest with particular toys or ways of manipulating them
  • Show more interest in sounds and have difficulty speaking words
  • Display unusual sensory reactions
  • Show little interest in playing with other children or adults

You may see difficulties with motor skills such as:

  • Lack of safety awareness
  • Delayed motor milestones
  • Poor postural balance and control
  • Poor static and dynamic balance
  • Lack of coordination such while hopping or jumping
  • Difficulty with mimicking movements
  • Decreased hand-eye coordination
  • Difficulties with planning movements
  • Low muscle tone
  • Toe walking

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Early Intervention services can help children 0-3 year reach motor milestones, improve postural stability, and strengthen structures they need to play. Most physical therapy clinics can help children 3+ years old to continue to strengthen their muscles and balance as well as improve interactive play and age appropriate skills. Furthermore, children with ASD with gross motor delays and limitations are often at a higher risk for obesity; thus, increasing physical activity and exercise will also help keep children with ASD healthy.

Ways Physical Therapy Can Help:

  1. Socialization: The child can learn to interact with therapist during play. An example is learning how to coordinate tossing a ball back and forth and engaging in reciprocal play. Group therapy may also be an option offered at some therapy clinics.
  2. Therapeutic Play: Physical Therapists will utilize therapeutic games and tactics to assist with learning to walk, promote quality movements, strengthen muscles, improve balance, and age appropriate play skills.
  3. Parent Education: Physical therapists can be of aid in recommending proper orthotics or equipment a child with ASD may need to help their postural balance, basic skills, and play skills. Therapists will also serve as a resource for interventions parents can do at home with their child.

Speech Therapy - Promoting Early Language Development

Fun Activities

Speech Driven:

  • Plant Flowers: Planting flowers is a great way to target following commands (e.g., 1. fill the pot with soil, 2. plant your seed, 3. water the soil), prepositional words (e.g., the soil goes in the pot), color concepts (e.g., what color(s) will the flower be?) and language concepts (e.g., describing flower by size and type).

  • Read: “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle, in which you can address story re-tell, predictions, compare/contrast, descriptive language and sequencing.

Gross Motor Driven:

Musical Zoo

What You’ll Need:

-colored circular disks

-pictures of animals

-device to play music aloud

How to Play:

Print out pictures of animals that are easy to imitate how they move (frogs, bear, one-legged bunny, crab, horse, etc.). Place the circular disks around the perimeter of a large circle so each child can stand on one. Instruct the children to move around like the animal you hold up when the music is playing and to return to a colored disk when the music stops. This is a great way for children with ASD to play around other kids, get musical input/cues, and receive visual demonstrations of what to do. The various animal movements are strengthening different muscles, improving coordination, and working on balance!

Other activities studies have shown to be beneficial to children with ASD include: cardiovascular activities such as swimming, play involving running, follow the leader games, obstacle courses, and the use of dogs during play.

Littlest Warrior

Check it out!

A clothing line to support children with special needs. Every month, 10% of sales go to a family adopting a child with special needs, a family in need of help with medical bills, or to a foundation dedicated to helping kids.