Childhood Anxiety: Taking the right STEPS

Do you know a child who seems worried, struggles with perfectionism  or relies heavily on routines and rituals throughout the day?  These behaviors could be a sign of anxiety.  Anxiety is a normal part of child development and is typically present at different stages during a temporary phase (think of stranger anxiety or separation anxiety).  Knowing how to navigate these normal phases is hard for parents but the situation is even more difficult when the child suffers from an anxiety disorder.  Please join us on Wednesday November 13th at 7:00 pm to discuss this very important issue and learn how you can support your child through anxiety.

Veronica Lickfelt, LCSW will be at our clinic in Yorkville to talk about the signs and symptoms of anxiety, what constitutes a disorder and what treatments are available for children.  She will present her own approach of taking STEPS to Stop, Think, Evaluate, Plan and Solve the issue.  Veronica is the co-founder of Innovative Behavioral Health in Oswego and Naperville.  She works as a clinician with both children and adults and has an extensive background working with children and teens in both community and school based programs. Veronica’s approach incorporates interventions from a variety of sources and she tailors her services to meet the needs of the child and family.  Veronica understands the needs of children, including those with autism and sensory processing disorders or sensory sensitivities.

Childhood anxiety can be present in many different forms and understanding when troubling behaviors are signs of anxiety is the first step toward getting help for your child and for the family.  Children who suffer from anxiety struggle with participating in daily activities and their behaviors can be disruptive for the whole family.  Sorting out what behaviors might be the result of anxiety and what might be the cause of the anxiety are the first steps to finding workable solutions for coping with anxiety and related disorders. Once you understand how anxiety can be impacting your child then you can take the next steps to provide support and help your child be successful.  Veronica will help to sort through some of these questions and provide some guidelines for how you can help your child at home and school.

Please join us for this last Community Education program of the Fall 2013 series.  The program is FREE but registration is required.  Please contact us by phone (630-552-9890) or email ( to reserve your spot today for this very important evening!

Happy PT Month! Meet our staff: Julia

October is National Physical Therapy Month! Please take a moment to meet our very own pediatric physical therapist: Julia Slocik.  Julia has been with STEPS for Kids for 2 years.  She is a very valuable member of our staff who brings experience, knowledge and fun to her therapy programs.  Julia is passionate about working with kids and families and especially enjoys working with infants and toddlers!

Julia, PT brings smiles to Physical Therapy at STEPS for Kids

Julia, PT brings smiles to Physical Therapy at STEPS for Kids

Julia graduated from Marquette University with a BS in Physical Therapy in 1992.  Over the last 20 years, Julia has worked in a variety of settings with both children and adults in the fields of orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation.  She has specialized in pediatric rehabilitation for over 5 years and has focused her interests especially in working with infants and toddlers.  She has advanced training in treating the conditions of torticollis and plagiocephaly in infants and is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor.  Her expertise is well utilized when working with young children who have congenital anomalies, birth related orthopedic conditions and generalized developmental delays related to physical development.

Julia’s practice is not limited to babies and toddlers as she also enjoys working with older children who have both orthopedic and neurological conditions.  She has experience working with children who toe walk, have cerebral palsy, show signs of balance and coordination disorders or have hypotonia.  Whether the child was born with a condition that limits physical function or has an acquired limitation due to illness or injury, Julia is able to thoroughly assess performance and address the underlying issues limiting the child’s success.

Julia believes that physical therapy can improve a child’s quality of life by treating the conditions contributing to developmental delays and impeding functional independence. She uses treatment approaches that facilitate full recovery when possible with a goal of returning the child to full activities when there has been an injury or illness.  Her treatment focuses on maximizing abilities within limitations due to chronic illness or condition while helping the family and the child learn how to be proactive in offsetting future issues in physical skills and development.

When working with children, Julia recognizes the importance of treatment designed to meet the needs of both the child and the family. This includes therapy activities that are age appropriate and play based, home activities that are manageable and adapted as needed, referrals to community based services when appropriate and support for concerns that may arise after the child has been released from PT.

If you have concerns about your child’s physical development you can contact your child’s physician and discuss a PT evaluation or contact the clinic to schedule a screening.  We can be reached by phone (630-552-9890) or email ( and we look forward to working with you and your child!

Community Education Series: Fall 2013

We have a great line-up of topics and speakers this fall that you won’t want to miss! FREE programs packed with information for you to put to use immediately with the children in your life!

Next week we are pleased to be hosting Crystal Hoffert, OD and Samantha Hoffert, OVT discussing Vision, Learning and Behaviors.  Dr. Hoffert will be explaining what a developmental vision examination includes, how motor control of the eyes and visual processing impact learning, motor skills and behaviors and what vision therapy is.  She and Ms. Hoffert (vision therapist) will be answering your questions about vision and how to determine whether visual problems may be contributing to your child’s difficulty at home or school.

October 8th we will be presenting our “Is It Sensory or Is It Behavior?” program, back by popular demand! This program presents an overview of sensory processing disorders, an introduction to “A Secret” that can help you address sensory processing issues during daily activities and challenge you to think about your child’s behavior from a new perspective.  Wondering if your child is having a tantrum or meltdown? This program is for you!

November 13th we are excited to host Veronica Lickfelt, LCSW presenting on Childhood Anxiety.  Ms. Lickfelt will be providing parents and professionals with an approach to Stop, Think, Evaluate, Plan and Solve the issue to help your child through difficult times.  If you suspect or know that your child struggles with anxiety you won’t want to miss this talk!

Contact us by phone (630-552-9890) or email ( to reserve your spot today for these presentations!

If you know someone else who would benefit from this information forward a link to our website (, share our Facebook page (facebook/ or print off and share the flyer!

The “eyes” have it! Vision, learning and behavior, oh my!

When it comes to reasons why your child might be struggling with reading or writing, having poor attention in school or exhibiting decreased eye contact, vision problems are an often overlooked possibility.  All children, especially children under the age of 5 years old, should have a developmental vision examination to determine if vision is a part of or even the source of the issues.

We are excited to begin our Community Education Program Fall 2013 Series with a presentation on this important topic.  Dr. Crystal Hoffert of Brenart Eye Clinic in Yorkville will be at the STEPS for Kids clinic on Wednesday September 25th to provide important information about vision.   Dr. Hoffert will talk about common childhood vision problems, how they can impact on learning, behavior and motor development and what can be done to address these vision problems.

Joining Dr. Hoffert will be Samantha Hoffert, Vision Therapist at Brenart Eye Clinic. Vision therapy provides structured exercises and activities designed to improve a person’s ability to control fine movement of the eyes, selectively focus on visual targets, use the eyes together in a coordinated and functional manner and process visual information more accurately and efficiently.  Vision therapy is sometimes prescribed as part of the total plan for remediation of visual deficits which may also include prescription glasses, patching either eye during activities, home exercises and activities and sometimes coordinating efforts with Occupational Therapists and teachers to support the child’s success in learning.

If you would like to learn more about vision and how it may be affecting your child then please join us on September 25th at 7:00 pm for this information filled program.  This program is offered by STEPS for Kids as a community service and is FREE for parents and professionals. Space is limited so registration is required.  Download or print a flyer for more information and to share with others.

Contact us by phone (630-552-9890) or email ( to register and reserve your spot for this program.  We look forward to seeing there!

Nutrition, Behaviors, Learning and Health

Back in June we had the pleasure of hosting Heather DeGeorge, CHC/AADP, PMP at the clinic talking about how what we eat really does matter.  The information she shared with us brought new meaning to the old saying “you are what you eat.”  I am looking forward to having Heather back in the future to talk more about this topic but for those of you who missed her presentation, here is an overview of how nutrition can impact development, learning, behaviors and health.  I’ve used some of Heather’s information and added some from other sources.  This information is provided as an educational tool only and you should consult with your physician before making any dietary changes for you or your child.


Physical growth, development, emotional balance and well-being are driven by what we eat.  How our body uses and responds to the food we ingest influences all aspects of our being.   Some people experience reactions to food that may or not be true allergies but influence our health significantly.  Food intolerance can trigger immune system responses and metabolic disorders or disruptions can result in the body’s inability to use food efficiently for energy and growth.  Sometimes our bodies are unable to handle the food substance but sometimes it is related to what has been added to the foods when processed.  Understanding how one’s body reacts to various foods or additives is imperative to understanding how to correct the issue.  Allergy testing may be inconclusive or inaccurate and is not typically recommended for young children.  Assessment through elimination diets can be helpful and other testing can be completed by your doctor.

2.  Nutrition issues can produce or contribute a wide variety of symptoms.

The following behavioral and developmental challenges are worth attempting to correct through modifications to diet or nutritional supports.  You should consult with your physician if you believe that any of these issues present in your child may be influenced by dietary concerns.

3.  Changes to dietary intake and nutritional supports can sometimes improve symptoms. (Always consult with your physician prior to making dietary changes)

  • Eliminate the problematic food ingredient, whether naturally occurring or added through processing.  The most common irritants are diary, soy, gluten and food preservatives and dyes.
  • Use dietary changes to balance blood sugar. Improve the balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins in each meal (including snacks) for better metabolism and use of food energy.
  • Use dietary supplements when appropriate to address nutritional deficits.

When we are trying to determine how to support behavioral, learning and developmental challenges, it is important to consider the food we eat as one possibility influencing these areas.  While food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances are not always the answer for every case, they can be one part of the puzzle.  Often overlooked and underestimated, the impact of food should always be considered when assessing our children’s developmental challenges.  Changing diet and helping picky eaters is the next challenge. We’ll talk about that soon!

Eating right for behavior, learning and development

Please join us on Monday June 3rd at 7:00 pm for a presentation on healthy eating and how food can impact behaviors, learning and development.  We are happy to host Heather DeGeorge presenting “Healthy Eating for Developmental and Behavioral Challenges” and invite you to join us for this information packed evening.

Heather DeGeorge, CHC/AADP, PMP has worked in private practice as a health and wellness coach and is committed to helping individuals and families improve their health and change their lives by addressing nutritional issues.  Heather has followed a long personal journey into health, first with her own needs and then with those of her developmentally delayed son.  Drawn to learn more about the impact of nutrition on overall health, Heather now teaches others about how true it is that “you are what you eat.”

On June 3rd, Heather will be talking about the complex relationship between food, digestion, allergies, neurological system function and the immune system. She will discuss researched based ways to put changes in place that can help your child eat healthier and change their behaviors while supporting healthy development.  Come learn how food may be influencing your child from within and, more importantly, how you can make changes for the better!

This class is FREE but registration is requested. Please contact us at the clinic by phone or email to register today!  630-552-9890  OR

Toddlers, Tantrums and Transitions

One of the biggest challenges in parenting young children is helping them move smoothly from one developmental stage to the next.  Change can rock anyone’s boat, especially for children who may not have the skills in place to handle the demands of change.  When your child has exceptional needs, the challenge for parents includes adapting your techniques to fit each child’s needs.  Parents often discover that what worked for one isn’t working for the next.  A daunting task, indeed. Who said parenting was going to be easy?!

If you are looking for support and guidance to navigate the milestones of giving up a pacifier, moving your toddler into a “big bed”, potty training and more, we have information just for you!  We are pleased to welcome Dana Burke, M.S.Ed, BCBA of ABC Moms, Inc presenting on Tuesday, May 7th, 7:00 pm at the clinic on this very topic.  Leading Through Life Transitions will focus on the importance of routines and give you practical strategies for helping children cope with the changes brought on by growing up.

Dana has presented at STEPS for Kids before, sharing insight and wisdom about the most important tips for parenting.  With a professional background in speech/communication, special education and behavior management, and her own parenting experiences, Dana’s presentations are chock full of strategies and techniques that are immediately applicable in your “every day.”  Dana will share proven ways for you to maintain a calm and cooperative atmosphere in your home.

This program is part of our Community Education Spring 2013 series and is FREE to both parents and professionals.  Registration is requested as space is limited. Please call or email us to register today!  630-552-9890  OR

Small Business Wish Grant – YOU can help us Win!

STEPS for Kids has entered a wish into the Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong Spring 2013 Campaign!  Intuit will be granting wishes with $5000 to each of the winning 15 small businesses. Follow the link to vote for us now!

Then share the link to help us grow our business so we can provide more services and better services with new computers and software for the clinic!

We opened our doors in 2010 with just myself, Deb Johnson, providing OT.  The community demand is great and we have grown to meet the need. We now have 3 more great therapists (Kristin, OT; Julia, PT and Nicole, SLP) as well as a terrific office manager (Paula) all working hard to help the kids who come through our doors.  As we have grown our technology has not kept pace. We sure could use that $5000 to buy new computers and tablets so that we can provide even better therapy services!

We would then be able to use computers in therapy, taking advantage of all the great apps out there as well as computer based programs.  We would also be better able to provide families with needed resources such as picture schedules and home activity programs.  Lastly, more computers would mean that our little clinic could move into using electronic medical systems that will streamline our documentation and improve our business operations so that we can spend more time with the kids!

Please go to the Small Business Growing Strong website and vote for us now! You can vote one time every day so please come back often and vote! With your support we can keep growing and help even more kids!

Community Education Spring Series Continues!

It was great to see such a wonderful group of parents and professionals at our program on April 3rd.  We are pleased to be continuing our Community Education programs with two more presentations coming up in May and June.

On May 7, 2013 we will be hosting Dana Burke, MS, Ed, BCBA  from ABC Moms, Inc in Naperville.  ABC Moms provides parenting support for families from the newborn years through teens. Dana is a board certified behavior analyst and specializes in infant care. She also has experience as a speech therapist assistant, educator and parent which provide her with a rich perspective when helping families.   Dana will be speaking about helping children through transitions and offer insights and tips for making changes such as potty training, sleeping in a “big bed”, getting rid of the pacifier, and more.  Read more about the program and call or email us to register!

On June 3rd, Heather DeGeorge, CAC/AADP, PMP will be here to talk about how nutrition affects behaviors and development.  Heather is a health and wellness coach who provides support for individuals and families who are looking for answers to health and nutrition related issues.  Heather brings personal experience, her own journey and that of her son, and a wealth of professional knowledge to the topic of how food and nutrition impact our behaviors, learning and health.  Join us to learn how food can impact the neurological and immune systems, how it can cause health issues and behavior challenges and how you can support your family toward changes that make a difference!  Read more about the program and call or email us to register!

These presentations are FREE and open to the public but space is limited.  Contact us at 630-552-9890, email us at to register today!