5 Tips for COVID19/Quarantine Anxiety To Start Using Now

Jamie Frederick, LCPC

For many families, the COVID19 Pandemic has taken anxiety and stress levels to a new high. In addition, many of our go-to outlets for healthfully managing our stress are no longer available due to shelter-in-place restrictions. Homes have become our places for work, play, and school with little to no time to prepare for these changes. The good news is, there are simple things that both children and adults can do to help navigate these tough times. The five tips below can be implemented immediately and consistently across all members of the family to help offer a sense of calm in the chaos. 

  1. Focus on what you can control. When our minds wander to all the challenges facing us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, lose hope, and feel helpless. By focusing on what you can control, you regain your power and peace of mind. For example, you can’t control how others choose to respond to the crisis but you can control steps you and your family can take to keep yourselves healthy. 
  2. Begin or continue to practice yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and gratitude. These practices are healthy and lower our stress, anxiety, and depression during times of normalcy. During difficult times, these practices become even more essential to our well being. If you don’t know where to start, YouTube has numerous yoga and relaxation videos for all ages and levels. There are many easy to use phone apps, many of which have a free version, available to teach basic meditation and relaxation techniques that all ages can do and benefit from. Finally, while it is appropriate to feel some added stress, anxiety, and fear when facing uncertainty, writing down or verbally expressing what simple things we are grateful for can help balance our emotions and focus our energy on what is important. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to start a new family tradition around gratitude. Start today and see the benefits it can bring!
  3. Take things one day at a time. There is so much uncertainty right now; don’t add fuel to the anxiety fire by worrying about what will change tomorrow or next week. Focus on what you’d like to or need to accomplish today. Do the same for children. Also, remember to give everyone a fresh start each day, including yourself. It’s understandable to have bad days, irritability, and increased arguments with family members during this time. Each new day is an opportunity to make the most of your situation and a chance for both children and adults to find joy, be kind, and make better choices.
  4. Rely on your strengths. Look at what has worked in the past and apply it to this situation. What are ways that you and your family have successfully managed stress or anxiety in the past? Physical activity? Art? Talking with friends or extended family? Seeing a therapist? Implement what you know works. For example, maybe you can’t go to the gym to work out your frustrations and socialize/vent to friends, but you can do physical activity at home and use technology to stay connected. Your child can’t attend an art class, but now is a great time to use up supplies around the house and be creative. If seeing a therapist has been helpful for you or your family in the past to help process and cope with stressful situations, consider therapy again. Many counseling services offer teletherapy for all ages from the comfort and safety of your home, including STEPS for Kids
  5. Plan for structure and allow for flexibility. Most of us do our best when we have some kind of structure to follow, whether that’s our working hours, school hours, exercise time, family time, meal times, cleaning schedule, etc. it gives us a sense of consistency and a framework from which to build the rest of our day on. It can be helpful for all family members to have a general schedule and a daily to-do list. This provides a sense of normalcy and consistency, as well as a sense of accomplishment and control, in a chaotic time. However, keep in mind, these are unprecedented times we are living in. If your child was to complete school work in the morning and clean his room in the afternoon but wakes up eager to tackle his room. it may be wise to let him feel a bit more in control and enjoy a sense of empowerment by changing today’s schedule. If a child is having a hard day emotionally (or, if you are!), maybe a quiet day of snuggles, art, movies, and lots of reassurance is a healthier use of time.  

Whatever you do to relieve stress and anxiety, remember that you are not alone. Even though we are facing challenging times that keep us physically apart, we can be there for each other by using technology to connect and engage with others. If you are in crisis, help is available.  If you would like to know more about mental health services provided through STEPS for Kids, please contact us today.

This information provided by STEPS for Kids counselor, Jamie Frederick, LCPC. Jamie has over 9 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 available to support children, teens and adults with a variety of conditions and concerns through individual, group, and family based treatment approaches. Her services are available via teletherapy remote treatment sessions during the COVID19 Shelter-In-Place order.

4 Tips to Turn Toddler “Jargon” Into Conversations

Is your toddler starting to talk but speaking a “different language”? No worries! It’s a common phenomena of language development called “jargon.” Lots of young children engage in this kind of “babble-speak” as they learn how to use language effectively. Recent research has highlighted the importance of not just talking to your child but talking with them, with evidence of structural brain changes that contribute to developing skills for language and literacy. The most important thing is to engage your child in conversation – whether you understand what they are saying or not! Here are 4 ways to engage your child in that ever important skill of conversation:

  1. Respond to your child’s communication attempts even if you don’t get a single word that is being said.  Your child is trying to tell you something and if the communication attempt is acknowledged by you, they will surely attempt more communication with you in the future.  Your response could be a simple head nod, or a comment such as “you’re right”, “I see”, “really?”. Make sure you make eye contact and interact as though your child is saying something very interesting. 
  2. Be a detective and try to figure out what they might be talking about and reply back with   Doing a little detective work enhances the back and forth exchanges and helps you better understand your child. Being a detective, you can: follow your child’s eye gaze while they are speaking or read the gestures that go along with the “talking” to see if you can figure out the subject of the conversation.  You can also look around to find a possible source of the topic of conversation (ie., maybe a school bus just drove by or a favorite character is on tv). If you can’t figure it out, make something up that might be relevant to the current situation, say what you think they would be saying to you and see what kind of response you get. Need an example of how to chat it up with a child you don’t understand? Check out this adorable video of a dad and his baby enjoying television together! Great detective work and conversation going on there!
  3. Know the topic but the sentence doesn’t make sense? Model the sentence back to the child so they can hear how it is supposed to sound.  To do this, you just slowly repeat the sentence or phrase you think they said using 2-3 words while making eye contact. Then ask your child to say it again with you to help improve their accuracy. Be affirming and encouraging as you provide the model. For example, “Oh, yes! you are right! The bus is big!” Follow it up with a question or another comment on the same topic to keep the conversation going. 
  4. Ask follow up questions or add your own comments.  If you know the subject of the conversation you are having, ask your child follow-up questions about the topic and model answers or give choices for answers to the questions. For example., “I see the car.  What color is the car? Is it blue or green?”, “You see the puppy? He’s a big puppy! What does the puppy say?”  Show interest and enthusiasm in what your child wants to tell you. This helps the child feel connected and keeps them engaged in the conversation. Giving a response will build a desire in your child to respond back to you and conversations will flow! 

As you can see, you don’t need to be speaking the same “language” to have a fun, interactive conversation with your child and it can be encouraging for your child to have these discussions with you.  This is how your child learns more than just how to say words but also social skills such as taking turns in conversation, making eye contact, using gestures and changing the inflection of his/her voice.  Having conversations builds relationships, connects us all socially, and supports future literacy skills. Enjoy these little talks with your child and have fun!

Wonder if your child would benefit from speech therapy? Contact us today to discuss your concerns and learn more about our services.  630-552-9890 

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 info@rightstepsforkids.com







3 Easy Ways to Build Language Skills Every Day!

Taking time to sit and read with your child is highly recommended by all the current research. Reading to your child improves cognitive and language skills while also strengthening social, emotional and character development.

Children also learn from watching, listening and engaging with others throughout the day. Scheduling time to read and engage with your child is crucial, but don’t miss out on these easy ways to support your child’s learning and language skills during everyday activities. Research shows that simply talking and listening to your child is vital to development of language and cognitive skills.

Incorporating these strategies takes a bit of focused effort at first, but with time you’ll discover it’s easy to take advantage of these “teachable moments” and notice your child’s language improving as well as your relationship!   

  1. MEAL TIME: Have your child in the room with you while you are preparing meals so they can watch and participate in the activities. Use this time for conversation and focused language practice: . 
  • RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES: Depending on your child’s age and ability level, they can work on following directions when you ask them to get out certain items (for example: “get out your green cup”, “put the napkin on the table”) or you can give 2-step directions such as “get the green cup and put it on the table”.  If your child is younger, you can hand him/her the napkin and help them put it on the table while you are telling them the directions.  
  • VOCABULARY ACTIVITIES: While you are working in the kitchen and preparing meals, talk to your child as much as you can.  Explain what you are doing, label the items/foods/actions you are doing while you are doing them, talk about colors and sizes of things you are using, and work on sequencing by talking through the steps you are taking to prepare the meal.  
  • EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES: Ask your child questions while you are working in the kitchen.  You can ask him/her to label items, ask him/her to tell you where things go, given him/her an object and have him/her tell you about it (size, color, etc), or ask your child to tell you what you are doing as you do things (washing, cutting, cooking, etc). 


2.  BATH TIME: This is another great time to get some language and conversation going with your child.  As with the meal time ideas, you can work on vocabulary by labeling objects, actions and the steps to getting bathed (before, during and after).  You can ask questions to work on that expressive language at whatever stage your child is at (labeling, combining 2-3 words, producing sentences).  Receptive language can be addressed by asking your child to point to body parts, follow 1-2 step directions (ie., give me the blue toy, put the toy in the cup and give it to me, etc), or asking your child questions about what you are doing.  This is also a great time to sing songs and have your child help you by filling in the words/phrases he/she knows in the songs.  

3. MORNING AND NIGHTTIME ROUTINES: These routines are a great source of language and interactions for you and your child.  This is another time where you can work on vocabulary related to the routine, sequencing the steps you take to get ready, asking who/where/when questions about the routine and objects involved (“Where do you keep your toothbrush?”, “Who should brush their teeth first?”, “When do we put on our pajamas?”) or asking your child about their day.  Encourage expression by asking for specifics such as “Tell me something you had fun doing today” instead of asking “what did you do today?” Remember that listening to your child is as important as speaking to your child! 

Tammy Masciola, Speech Therapist

Sometimes as parents we get caught up in “getting through” the daily routines and all of the things we have to do that we forget that these are opportunities for quality time with our children.  We can make these times more enjoyable for ourselves as parents and help our children develop many skills as they participate in or watch the routines we go through during our day. Be creative, have fun and enjoy your time with your child as they learn and communicate with you! ~ Tammy Masciola, MA, CCC-SLP/L

SPD Modulation Disorders: Sensory Over-Responsivity

As I shared in a previous post, Dr. Lucy Miller has identified six sub-types of SPD under the umbrella term of sensory processing disorder. In the next few posts, I want to discuss in detail the definition of each sub-type, the red flags you might notice, and the associated behaviors you might be dealing with.

It’s important to keep in mind that a child (or adult) may have any combination of the sub-types, and each of the sub-types can affect any one or more of the 8 sensory systems. It’s largely true that no two experiences with SPD are the same!

The information contained in this post comes from the STAR Institute and Dr. Miller’s book Sensational Kids, and is readily available in more detail through those resources, if you’re interested in digging deeper.

Modulation Disorders

Modulation disorders are characterized by chronic and severe problems with turning sensory information into behaviors that match the nature and intensity of the message. Individuals with modulation disorders often have difficulty regulating responses to sensory stimuli.

Sensory Over-Responsivity (SOR)

  • Sometimes referred to as “sensory defensiveness”
  • Predisposition to respond too much, too soon, or for too long to sensory stimuli most people find quite tolerable
  • Can occur in any one or more of the sensory systems and in combination with other SPD subtypes
  • Most common sensory areas affected are tactile and auditory but all systems may be affected with different behavioral manifestations

Red Flags of SOR

Individuals who experience SOR are frequently bothered by:

  • Textures (clothing, food, environment)
  • Noise or sounds, especially when loud or unexpected
  • Movement, such as swings or slides, hanging upside down
  • Bright lights, sunshine
  • Background noise, unable to concentrate
  • Loud, unexpected sounds or noisy environments
  • Smells, fragrances in surroundings
  • Having hair, fingernails or toenails cut
  • Substances on body (dirt on hands, crumbs on face, water on clothes)

Behaviors Associated with SOR

  • Aggressive or impulsive when overwhelmed by sensory information
  • Irritable, fussy, moody
  • Unsociable, avoids group activities and has difficulty with forming relationships
  • Excessively cautious and afraid to try new things
  • Upset by transitions and unexpected changes

Children with SOR can appear to always be on “high alert” or display heightened anxiety in some situations or settings. It’s likely that this is caused by repeated exposure to sensory input that is uncomfortable or unsettling. For some, their behavioral response is to withdraw and seek out quiet spaces, or to avoid participation in daily activities such as socializing or community outings.

For others, the response might be to become loud and aggressive as a way to express their discomfort or over-whelmed feelings. Some children who experience SOR become very controlling and demanding so as to protect themselves from what they perceive as painful experiences (ie: being exposed to loud sounds or painful touch).

Children with SOR are most often helped by accommodations to reduce the intensity of the sensory experiences, such as by reducing sounds (through use of headphones or environmental modifications), and by empathic responses from those around them, helping to validate their experiences and alleviate anxiety.

Some of my favorite resources for better understanding SOR include:

And don’t forget: if you’re local, join us at our Introduction to SPD with Q&A events on October 26 and 30. Learn more here, and contact us for more information about SPD or to discuss your child’s needs.

Here’s What Sensory Processing Disorder is NOT

Last post, I shared some information about what SPD is. This time I want to talk about what it is NOT. I am a big advocate for understanding sensory processing and helping families navigate the difficulties that come with the various sub-types, affecting a child’s development and participation in daily life. As part of that advocacy, I often find myself responding to mistaken ideas that people have about SPD.

While October is SPD Awareness Month, it seems that in some circles SPD is a trending topic year-round. And there is misinformation that comes with that sort of fame. So, just to set the record straight and improve our understanding of sensory processing disorder, here are a few points of clarification:

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is NOT a medical diagnosis.

The STAR Institute worked for more than a decade to have SPD added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – 5th Edition (DSM-5). These listings include clear diagnostic criteria and guide a physician in making medical diagnoses for mental and neurological disorders. When the DSM-5 was published in 2015, the editing board ultimately determined that there was not enough evidence to support the addition of SPD as a separate diagnostic category. They did, however, add sensory processing issues (sensory hyper- or hypo-sensitivity) as an additional criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The STAR Institute continues to support research in this area to help identify SPD as a unique diagnosis.

SPD is not what everyone with “quirks” has.

We all have sensory differences, and some of us have specific preferences or needs when it comes to sensory input. If you don’t like scratchy sweaters or need to have silence to get work done, you don’t have SPD. Individuals with SPD experience the world very differently and struggle to participate fully in it due to their difficulty interpreting and responding to sensory input. The hallmark of SPD, as described by Dr. Lucy Miller (STAR Institute founder), is that the condition is chronic and disruptive to daily life. 

SPD is not something that can be “fixed” or “cured” by treatment.

BUT, the symptoms can often be reduced in intensity, with a resulting decrease in the impact of SPD on a person’s daily life. A comprehensive therapy approach includes direct treatment to help with learning skills and potentially altering how sensory information is received and processed. It would also include education regarding how to manage daily tasks and accommodate the individual’s unique sensory needs. Skilled therapists help individuals to advocate for themselves and better understand how to cope with SPD, while educating families (and others) to facilitate an understanding of the condition that changes relationships and supports participation in daily life.

Sensory-sensory based treatment is not the answer to every problem.

Issues with learning, behavior, social interactions, or daily task participation may not all be solved with therapy. There is a growing trend toward using sensory based strategies to support all children who exhibit difficulty with self-regulation, attention, learning, behaviors, and social interaction, but using a “sensory lens” to address these issues may be only one piece of a complex puzzle that needs to be solved in order to best support a child’s development and success in daily life. Understanding SPD can be helpful in solving problems for children who exhibit symptoms of the disorder, but it is most powerful when you combine it with a full understanding of the child and the specific challenges they experience.

Our blog series for SPD Awareness Month continues soon, with more information on the sub-types and resources to help children with them.

And don’t forget: if you’re local, join us at our Introduction to SPD with Q&A events on October 26 and 30. Learn more here, and contact us for more information about SPD or to discuss your child’s needs.

The Six Sub-Types of Sensory Processing Disorder

Understanding sensory processing disorder can be difficult in large part due to the fact that there is not currently a medical diagnostic description for it. Other disorders like autism, ADD, or specific learning disorders have this kind of outline, and are known well to health professionals and parents alike.

While Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR defined sensory integration and sensory integration dysfunction in the 1970’s, there has been on-going research and diverging theories that actually make it even harder for us to talk about SPD as a condition. One could argue semantics over a philosophical debate, but when discussing a medical condition, it’s most helpful to have a common language. It ensures we’re all on the same page.

To that end, Dr. Lucy Miller has proposed using the term “Sensory Processing Disorder” as an umbrella term that includes six sub-types of the disorder. The below graphic is a little dense, but it gives you an idea of the umbrella and everything that’s underneath it.

Subtypes of SPD


In upcoming blog posts, I’ll explore each sub-type more in depth. But to start, here are some key points that are helpful in understanding SPD:

  • SPD is not one condition but rather a collection of conditions that are each unique in terms of symptoms.
  • SPD includes disorders of the 8 sensory systems:
    • Visual
    • Auditory
    • Tactile (touch)
    • Gustatory (taste)
    • Olfactory (smell)
    • Vestibular (movement)
    • Proprioception (body awareness, position)
    • Interoception (internal organs)
  • Dyspraxia and Postural Disorder – motor-based disorders – are most closely associated with problems in processing vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (body awareness) input.
  • Modulation disorders (when it’s hard for someone to regulate their level of alertness) can affect any of the 8 sensory systems and often appear in combination.
    • For example, a person might be SOR (sensory over-responsive) in auditory, SUR (sensory under-responsive) in tactile, and sensory craving in vestibular/movement.
  • Sensory discrimination disorders are the inability to perceive subtle differences in sensory information. That leads to poor interpretation or perception of information, and these disorders can affect any of the 8 systems.
  • An individual can have any of the 8 systems affected by sensory processing issues. This creates a huge list of potential combinations of SPD sub-types – millions of possible combinations when you do the math!
  • In order to determine what approach, strategies, and accommodations will help with reducing the impact of the disorder, in-depth examination and understanding of an individual is essential.

Hopefully, that’s a good start on the basics of SPD, and what’s meant by sub-types and various disorders with in the condition. Next up: We’ll look at each sub-type individually and explore the various associated behaviors you might encounter in children struggling with them.

And don’t forget: if you’re local, join us at our Introduction to SPD with Q&A events on October 26 and 30. Learn more here, and contact us for more information about SPD or to discuss your child’s needs.

October is Sensory Processing Awareness Month

In addition to our in-clinic treatment, it’s a goal at STEPS For Kids to bring you factual, helpful information on the conditions, issues and discussions that matter to you. As part of our education and advocacy efforts, this month we’re excited to bring you information about sensory processing and SPD (sensory processing disorder).

All month, I’ll share my thoughts and some educational information here. Plus, we’re hosting an Introduction to SPD presentation at the clinic later in October. I hope you find the information helpful and enlightening, whether you have been dealing with sensory processing disorder for a long time or have just discovered SPD and its impact on behavior and learning.

According to the STAR Institute, many people think that SPD is something that only children with autism have. While it is true that many individuals on the autism spectrum also display signs of SPD, recent research indicates that SPD is in fact a unique condition. Most individuals who have SPD actually do not have autism.

Research also shows that while some individuals have SPD and other conditions such as attention disorders, learning disorders, and developmental delays, there are some individuals who only have SPD.

There will be much more information to come as the month goes on, but to get started, here are some things to know about SPD:

  • It is a condition that was first described by Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR in the 1970’s, following her research working with children who had cerebral palsy and learning disorders. She created a body of work that described sensory integration as the neurological process and referred to sensory integration dysfunction.
  • Sensory integration assessment and treatment are based on neurological principals of how the brain receives and organizes sensory information so as to produce an adaptive response that lets us be successful in a task.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder is an umbrella term for the disorder and includes six sub-types, as described by Lucy Miller, PhD, OTR of the STAR Institute.
  • The six sub-types include:
    • Modulation Disorders (Over-responsive; Under-responsive; Craving)
    • Sensory Based Motor Disorders (Dyspraxia; Postural Disorder)
    • and Sensory Discrimination Disorders
  • There are 8 sensory systems that can be affected:Visual
    • Auditory
    • Olfactory (smell)
    • Gustatory (taste)
    • Tactile (touch)
    • Vestibular (movement)
    • Proprioceptive (body awareness)
    • Interoception (internal organs/systems)
  • A person can have multiple sub-types, impacting one or more sensory systems. For example: being over-responsive to auditory stimulation, under-responsive to touch, and have a postural disorder.
  • Sensory processing occurs on a continuum. We all have sensory differences and none of us has all 8 sensory systems operating at 100% all the time. The hallmark of SPD is when the impact of symptoms is chronic and disruptive in daily life.
  • Research indicates that between 5 and 16% of children have SPD symptoms that are significant enough to negatively daily life activities, including play, social skills, learning, and self-care.
  • Negative behavior associated with SPD can disrupt relationships and impact a child’s self-esteem significantly. A child who doesn’t respond to the world appropriately is perceived as “bad” and receives negative responses from others, which in turn creates more problem behavioral responses and “keeps the child in misery” as described by Dr. Ayres.
  • Occupational therapists who have advanced training in SPD can help to remediate symptoms and improve daily task participation, address social and play skills, and support relationships for lifelong success.

There is so much to know about the current state of SPD assessment, treatment, and accommodations. Learning more about the disorder, separating fact from myth, and understanding each other through a “sensory lens” is one way that we can support others to be competent and confident in daily activities. I hope you’ll stay with us all through October to learn more!

And don’t forget: if you’re local, join us at our Introduction to SPD with Q&A events on October 26 and 30. Learn more here, and contact us for more information about SPD or to discuss your child’s needs today.

5 Tips to Improve Communication with Your Child’s Teacher

It’s that time of year when parents are wondering how their child is doing at school and teachers are working hard getting to know the children in their class.

Getting communication between home and school off to a good start is an important step to ensure that parents and teachers are working together on behalf of the child. Here are some tips for parents on how you can support positive communication with your child’s teacher.

  1. Ask the teacher what method of communication is preferred and then use it. Some teachers prefer emails while others are using texting apps or web-based programs that organize classroom information and messages. Be sure to clarify what method your child’s teacher prefers and then learn how to use that method effectively. Ask for instructions from the teacher or school office if necessary. If your child has potential emergency situations (for example, allergic reactions) make sure that school staff, you, and other involved adults are clear on what method will be used in case of such an emergency. Setting systems up from the beginning reduces stress later.
  2. Frame communication in a positive manner. Use positive language that focuses on the child’s needs instead of language that demands responses from the teacher. No one appreciates being scolded or told how to perform their job. Making requests for accommodations, follow through, or problem solving can be first presented by stating what you notice your child is struggling with and offering ideas of how this has been addressed successfully in the past. Remember that parents and teachers are part of the same team for the child. The goal is to have a cooperative relationship, not an adversarial one.
  3. Teachers don’t know how involved you want to be unless you tell them. If you want the teacher to initiate communication about specific aspects of your child’s behavior, be sure to provide that information specifically. For example, if you are working on organizational skills at home and want to know each time your child fails to turn in an assignment, clearly (and politely!) make that request of the teacher. In some instances, a teacher doesn’t communicate an issue with parents because they simply aren’t aware that the parent wants to know. Some parents are more involved than others.
  4. Triage your communication. Every piece of information is not as critical as the next. Take some time to think about how critical your communication is before you hit “send” on the next email or text. Re-read your message and be sure that you have communicated in an objective and positive manner, not reacting emotionally or hastily in the heat of a moment. Be respectful of the teacher’s time and be professional in your communication – modeling what you would like to receive from the teacher.
  5. Let the teacher know YOU are an active team member for your child’s success. Finish conversations with the teacher by asking “What can I do as the parent in this situation?” or “Is there anything I can do at home to help this situation?”

Communication around a child’s needs can get heated and emotional, and understandably so. It’s important that we all stay objective and focused on what matters most – solving problems and supporting our children’s success. Starting off on the right foot will ensure you, your child and your teacher all have the best shot at a successful school year.

When Is Clinic Based Treatment Appropriate?

I’ve talked about the difference between school based and clinic based therapies before. While many children qualify for and receive school based therapy, some children benefit from therapy that is beyond the scope of what is provided in the school setting. As a parent, it can be confusing as to whether a child should get school therapy, clinic therapy, or both.

While school therapy is a vital part of a comprehensive program for supporting participation in the academic setting, school based therapy does not (and should not) address all the needs for every child. The addition of speech, occupational, and physical therapy into a child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is dependent on whether there is a specific need related to impairments that are impacting the child’s ability to participate and benefit from the educational setting.


These services will be provided within the context of school and from a practice model using an educational frame of reference.  Clinic based services are appropriate when the child’s needs go beyond the limits of school performance and impact the child’s participation in home and community settings.

Parents pursue clinic based services for a variety of reasons:

  • The child’s developmental issues impact all aspects of life, beyond school participation
  • The child has specific medical concerns that benefit from a medical frame of reference
  • The parent notices the child is struggling at school but is not eligible for school related services
  • The child is attending a private school and does not access public school services for therapies
  • The child is homeschooled and parent doesn’t want to involve the public school system
  • The child is under the age of 5, not enrolled in kindergarten, and/or not eligible for an early childhood program through the public school system
  • The parent is seeking help with family based issues such as family routines, expectations, or relationships
  • The child is successful at school but struggling with participation at home or in the community
  • The parent is seeking a second opinion for collaboration or advocacy within the school setting
  • The child would benefit from specific groups or task-focused activities outside of the school setting

Clinic based therapists are able to address the whole child within the context of family, home, and community without the limitations of law imposed on school based therapists. While a clinic evaluation can be helpful in advocating for school related services, clinic therapists cannot make recommendations specific to a school setting without being actively involved in that setting (ie: observations in the classroom, participation in planning meetings).

Nevertheless, clinic based services can provide insight to a child’s needs through a different lens, providing assistance to all those who are invested a child’s success. If you’d like to learn more about the services STEPS can offer in our clinic-based environment, get it touch today.