Counseling services now offered at STEPS for Kids!

We are pleased to announce the addition of Jamie Frederick, LCPC to our team of pediatric specialists! Our team knows how important it is to address the whole child for success in therapy. By providing mental health services alongside occupational, physical, and speech therapy we are able to serve the whole child and family needs while staying consistent with our play-based and family centered approach to care.

Jamie has over 8 years of experience as a counselor working with children from pre-school through high-school ages. She is passionate about supporting all children through a family-centered approach that focuses on the strengths of both the child and family while working on skill development vital for the child’s success. Jamie can help with adjustment issues, behavioral concerns, anxiety, emotional-regulation difficulty, social skills, and more. She is certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and trained in play based therapy. She is able to support children with a variety of conditions and concerns through individual, group, and family based treatment approaches.

Interested in accessing Jamie’s services for your child? STEPS for Kids knows how important this decision is. We offer a free 30 minute parent meeting with Jamie so that families can meet Jamie, discuss their immediate concerns, and be sure that Jamie is a good fit before scheduling that first appointment for their child.

Contact us today to discuss scheduling with Jamie or any of our pediatric specialists. 630-552-9890 or







Winter/Spring Social Skills Groups now open!

Enrollment is now open for  social skills groups! For children from 5-10 years old, Social STEPS for Kids will meet for 4 weeks, February 21 through March 14th followed by a 6 week session from April 4 through May 9th.   Led by a speech-language pathologist, this group is a great way to help your child build confidence and skills for social interactions. Check out the details then contact us to enroll your child today!

Social STEPS for Kids Group A: For ages 5-7years

Session 1A: Saturdays, 10:00-11:00 am; February 21 through March 14, 2015

Session 2A: Saturdays, 10:00-1100 am; April 4 through May 9, 2015

Group B: For ages 8-10 years

Session 1B: Saturdays, 11:00-12:00 am; February 21 through March 14, 2015

Session 2B: Saturdays, 11:00-12:00 am; April 4 through May 9, 2015

Cost per 4 week session 1A or 1B :  $120

Cost per 6 week session 2A or 2B: $180

Please note: Social Skills groups are not billable to insurance. Payment is due in full prior to the first session. No refunds on individual missed sessions or after the date of first session. STEPS for Kids reserves the right to reschedule sessions missed due to therapists’ absence or other extenuating circumstances.  

Groups will be led by Amy McDowell, MS, CCC-SLP/L. Amy has experience in clinic, home and school settings, providing both individual and group therapy to children from infants to adolescents. Amy uses play based therapy to facilitate speech and language skills development. She recognizes the individual differences of each child and tailors her approach to best meet each child’s needs within the group setting.

To register for a social skills group, please contact our office at 630-552-9890 or email us at with the subject line “social skills”.

Sensory Awareness Month: Resources and Support

October is Sensory Awareness Month! A great time to share information and advocate for those with sensory differences and sensory processing disorders which complicate participation in daily activities.  If you are looking for information on sensory processing you can follow our blog right here and follow us on Pinterest.  Here are five other places on the internet to find helpful information:

1) Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation:  This is the premier research and treatment center founded and directed by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR.   The SPD Foundation and the STAR Center offer cutting edge information and support for parents and children coping with SPD.  Explore the latest research, take a webinar or learn more about signs and symptoms of SPD.

2) The Spiral Foundation:  Another great research and learning center with a focus on educating the community and advocating for people coping with SPD and its impact on daily life.

3) Raising A Sensory Smart Child:  The book authored by Lindsey Biel, OTR/L provides comprehensive information on what SPD is and ways to manage SPD in a variety of settings.

4) Angie Voss, OTR, author of Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signalsprovides resources, tips and information to help with better meeting your child’s needs from a sensory perspective.

5)  Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support website offers a parent’s perspective and lots of tips, strategies and equipment suggestions to guide you through the journey of parenting a child with SPD.

While virtual sites and support are wonderful, sometimes we all need a little more face to face support.  In response to our community, STEPS for Kids is pleased to announce our new SPD Parent & Caregiver Support Group that will be meeting at our Yorkville clinic on Tuesday October 28, 2014 from 7:30 pm until 9:00 pm.   The meeting will be facilitated by STEPS for Kids owner/director, Debra Johnson, MS, OTR/L.  The first meeting will be organized around establishing the needs of our community and setting up regular monthly meetings for supporting parents, caregivers,  children and families affected by SPD and related conditions.

No registration is required for this event but seats are limited.                                          Please call us at 630-552-9890 to reserve your seat today!   You can contact our office with questions or sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about events.

We hope you can join us for our first Parent & Caregiver Support Group and look forward to seeing both new and familiar faces!

Next up in our Sensory Friendly Films is Planes: Fire and Rescue!

Have you had a chance to try out one of the great Sensory Friendly Film showings at NCG Cinema in Yorkville?  Now is your chance! The next special screening is Saturday June 26th at 10:00 am.  Come enjoy Disney’s latest animation adventure Planes: Fire and Rescue in an accepting and relaxed environment.  The sound is turned down a bit, the lights are left a little brighter and there is plenty of room to wiggle around.   A great chance for the whole family to enjoy a movie on the big screen together!

When you attend one of our special event film screenings, you can purchase concessions at the discounted group rate and there are always free refills on drinks and popcorn!  Tickets for the movie are just $6 per person.

Check out the full line-up of first run Sensory Friendly Films for 2014 and mark your calendars now so you won’t miss a single one!  After a break in August we will be back with Dolphin Tale 2 on September 20th.

Contact our office for more information: Phone 630-552-9890 OR  email:






“Social STEPS for Kids” Groups Start June 16th!

Enrollment for our new social skills group is now open!  For children from 5 to 8 years old, Social STEPS for Kids meets once a week for 8 weeks over the summer.  Led by a speech-language pathologist, this group is a great way to help your child build confidence and skills for social interactions. Check out the details then contact us to enroll your child today!

Social STEPS for Kids 

Session A: Mondays, 4:00-5:00; 8 weeks from June 16 to August 4, 2014

Session B: Thursdays, 4:00-5:00; 8 weeks from June 19 to August 7, 2014

(Choose Mondays OR Thursdays) 

Cost per 8 week session: $200

Please note:  Social Skills groups are not billable to insurance. Payment is due in full prior to the first session. No refunds on individual missed sessions or after the date of first session.  STEPS for Kids reserves the right to reschedule sessions missed due to therapists’ absence or other extenuating circumstances. 

Groups will be led by Samantha England, MS, CCC-SLP/L.  Samantha has over 3 years experience in the school setting providing both individual and group therapy to children.  She has special interest in early childhood and primary grade levels. Samantha uses play based therapy to address speech and language concerns and has been a part of a Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment Team.  She recognizes individual differences of each child and tailors her approach to best meet each child’s needs within the group setting.

To register for either Session A OR Session B please contact our office at 630-552-9890 or email us at with the subject line “social skills”.

Mother and child drawing together

“Write STEPS for Kids” Handwriting Camp

Looking for fun summer activities that support academic skills?  Our Write STEPS for Kids Handwriting Camp is just the thing!  Children enjoy group activities that include play, arts & crafts and music while developing skills to support handwriting.  Led by our Occupational Therapists, each section of camp consists of 8 one hour long sessions of fun and games that address foundational skills for written expression.  Starting at the end of July and finishing right before school starts, this is a great way to give your child a head start into the new school year!

In the age of technology, many children lack opportunities to develop handwriting skills. While learning the mechanics of forming letters and numbers is a basic step, many other skills act as foundations for the complex task of writing.  Children may struggle with any one or more of the underlying skills and so benefit from a comprehensive approach that addresses all the components. When underlying skills are not mastered, rote handwriting practice is frustrating and often counter-productive.  By weaving skill development into play based activities children learn and master the basics without the frustration!

Young children participate in gross motor play to develop body awareness, spatial awareness and perceptual skills to better understand direction of writing strokes, how writing goes on a page and improve postural control to support fine motor skills of holding a pencil. Older children learn how to position themselves properly, improve motor control and appreciate the importance of writing in daily life activities.  Each session includes home activity suggestions to carry over skill development and encourage your young writer.

What other parents are saying about our Handwriting Camps:

“A great program that promotes not only correct writing skills but teaches the parent how to strengthen and reinforce those skills..”                           Lisa W. 

“I learned ways to work with my child that are a lot more fun for him, making him much more willing to practice!”                                                              Ellen M. 

“My daughter looked forward to every session, learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it.”                                                                                                        Jennifer P. 

“She has more confidence about writing letters…..The best thing was the smile on her face each morning of camp!”                                                         Susan N. 

Handwriting Camp sessions are divided into sections based on skill level and provide a mix of activities that are developmentally appropriate.  While age/grade levels are provided as guidelines, children are placed into groups based on cognitive abilities and current handwriting skills.  Contact us for a free screening if you are unsure which group is best suited for your child.

Please see full descriptions of Write STEPS for Kids Handwriting Camps for summer 2014 and contact us to register today!

For more information call 630-552-9890  or email us at







Happy OT Month! Meet our staff: Kristin

April is OT Month and before the month gets away, we’d like you to meet one of our wonderful occupational therapists, Kristin Duffy.  Kristin has been with STEPS for Kids since October 2012.  Kristin loves working with children and finds great reward in being able to help children and families through a play based approach to treatment that fosters self-confidence and success.  Recognizing that “early childhood experiences play a large role in lifelong development,”  Kristin goes on to say that she values the opportunity to have a positive influence in the life of each child she works with and that she takes great joy in watching a child master a new skill as they learn through play.

Kristin became interested in OT as a high school student when she had the opportunity to observe at a pediatric therapy clinic as part of a class.  She was attracted to how OT uses play as a way to improve a child’s skills and how OT can support a child for participating in family activities, such as going out to eat or visiting the zoo.   Having an interest in working with children and families, Kristin first received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Resources from Illinois State University and then went on to get her master’s degree in OT from Rush University in Chicago.  While her clinical education has exposed her to treating clients in a variety of settings, Kristin has always wanted to focus her skills on pediatrics.

Kristin’s approach to OT is very individualized to the child, using each child’s strengths, interests and personality, she adapts play based activities to support the child’s ability to participate in a task, develop skills and achieve mastery.  Often observed to be letting the child take the lead in a session, Kristin is a keen observer of what motivates a child and strives to empower children in their ability to select and participate in age appropriate play activities.  She encourages family participation and invites parents to observe and join in on treatment sessions, so as to increase their understanding of the child’s needs and what they can do at home to carry over skill development.  Kristin appreciates parent involvement through feedback, insights and concerns that help to guide her work with the child.  Kristin says that her greatest reward is when parents share their own joys about experiences with their child which were previously difficult or unattainable.

Kristin has recently been certified in Therapeutic Listening and is now using it as an adjunct to treatment. Through use of play, social interaction, sensory based techniques and family empowerment, Kristin’s therapy style is a perfect fit at STEPS for Kids.  We know that she has had an influence on many children and their families and look forward to working with her for years to come!

Kristin is currently accepting new clients at the clinic.  Please contact us or call the clinic at   630-552-9890 to schedule an appointment.  

It’s Movie Time! Saturday April 19th for Rio 2

Our Sensory Friendly film events are continuing this Saturday, April 19th with Rio 2.  Follow your friends from Rio, Blu, Jewel and their kids, as they face the wilds of the Amazon in this new release.   The movie will be shown with the lights turned up a bit and the sound turned down a bit, to make the experience more comfortable for everyone.  If your child needs to wiggle, that’s all right, too!  Come enjoy a movie with the whole family!

When: Saturday April 19, 2014;  10:00 am

Where: NCG Cinemas, 1505 N. Bridge St. Yorkville, IL

We hope you can join us for this or any of our Sensory Friendly Film events. Check out our full schedule for 2014 and mark your calendars!


Sense-Able Strategies for Every Day

Join us on Wednesday April 2nd 2014, 7:00 pm at the clinic in Yorkville, IL for an evening filled with information and strategies to help you support your child at home, school and in the community.  Debra Johnson, OTR/L will be speaking about self-regulation and sensory processing, how sensory activities and experiences influence our behaviors, and how to implement a sensory diet.

We all use sensory based experiences to help us with self regulation throughout the day.  When your energy lags in the middle of a business meeting you might wiggle in your chair and reposition your body,  fidget with your pen or a paperclip or take a drink of cold water to rouse your energy level and increase your attentiveness.  When you are stressed after a long day you might choose to relax with soothing music, take a walk outdoors or enjoy your favorite food for dinner.   This, in essence, is a sensory diet. We choose different experiences throughout the day that help us regulate our responsiveness and allow us to complete daily tasks more efficiently.

We help young children learn how to use different strategies to calm themselves for sleep, to relax when worried, to focus attention for safety by modeling and redirecting them when necessary.  Some children will pick up on these strategies quickly, innately. You may see even a small child choose to briefly separate from others during play as if taking a rest break before returning to active play within a group.  Older children may choose to be either physically active after school or seek out quiet time for relaxation.  We as parents learn how to follow the rhythms of these needs and notice that one child needs “down time” while another requires more movement. For typically developing children we don’t think twice about this naturally occurring phenomena.

For children who have sensory processing disorders (SPD) the ability to regulate responses to sensory information is skewed. There may be over-responsiveness to some stimuli and under-responsiveness to other types of input.  The use of sensory strategies is not as clear cut or easily acquired during growing up. Children with SPD often benefit from increased structure and assistance in using sensory strategies, learning how their bodies respond and developing independence in using strategies effectively.  Used this way, a sensory diet is an invaluable tool that empowers parents and child.

Sense-Able Strategies for Every Day will provide you with tips, strategies and tools that you can put to use immediately to help your child (or yourself!) to manage daily activities and self-regulation.  We hope you can join us!  You can also print off a flyer to share this information with others.

Sense-Able Strategies for Every Day                                                                    Presented by Debra Johnson, MS, OTR/L

Wednesday April 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm

STEPS for Kids, 1555 Sycamore Rd. Yorkville, IL

Please call or email to reserve your space today. Registration is FREE but space is limited!

630-552-9890  OR

It’s Movie Time!

Saturday February 15th at 10:00 am is our special Sensory Friendly screening of The Lego Movie!   Lights up, sound down, no previews before the movie starts and freedom to wiggle, giggle and sing!   Check out the trailer and then get yourself down to NCG Cinemas in Yorkville for this event.

Special screening at 10:00 am Saturday February 15th

NCG Cinemas   1505 N. Bridge St. Yorkville, IL

Brought to you by your friends at STEPS for Kids.  We hope to see you there!

Check out our full schedule of film events and all the details or contact us by phone (630-552-9890) or email (