Sensory Friendly Film Event: Saturday October 18, 2014

It’s time for another great movie in a sensory friendly environment!  Join us this Saturday October 18th for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at NCG Cinema in Yorkville.  Film will start at 10:00 am at NCG Cinema Yorkville, 1505 N. Bridge St. Yorkville.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day follows Alexander, who wonders if bad days only happen to him until the day that his whole family experiences a day just like his.  In a modern version of the children’s story, Alexander and his family learn lessons about sticking together and making the best of things.

This film is rated PG and has a run time of 1 hour 20 minutes.

Can’t make it this Saturday? Our next film is scheduled for Saturday November 29 and will be a screening of Home , the latest animated adventure from Dreamworks.

Our sensory friendly films are shown in a comfortable setting with the lights turned up a bit, the sound turned down and the freedom to wiggle around when you need to!  It’s a great way for the whole family to enjoy the movie on the big screen.  Admission is always $6 per person and group rate concessions are available (with free refills on fountain drinks and popcorn!).

Know someone who would enjoy this type of event? Please spread the word! These showings are open to the general public to benefit all.

Please let us know if you have enjoyed these movies and would like them to continue through 2015.

Contact us at 630-552-9890 with questions.




NEW! Story Time Language Group

Our newest group is now enrolling!

Designed for children who are in Pre-K or Kindergarten, the Story Time Language Group meets one time a month to help children develop language skills through reading and themed activities. Each month will include reading a story together and then completing social and craft activities related to the theme that help develop language skills such as phonological awareness (rhyming and sounds), sequencing, categorization, vocabulary,  following directions and more.

Story Time Language Group is led by Amy McDowell, MS, CCC-SLP/L, speech language pathologist. Amy has over three years experience working with children in clinic, home and school settings.  She has special interest in literacy and language skills as well augmentative communication. Amy provides speech therapy services at STEPS for Kids and also runs our social skills groups.

This group meets on Saturday mornings from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm (see full schedule below) and enrollment is available on a monthly basis. Sign up for one, two, four or all nine group meetings!

2014 Dates/Themes

September 20:  Fall Fun

October 25:  Halloween

November 22:  Thanksgiving

December 13: Christmas

2015 Dates/Themes

January 17:  Winter Fun

February 14: Valentine’s Day

March 14: St. Patrick’s Day

April 18:  Springtime Fun

May 16:  School’s Out for Summer

NOTE:  Children must be able to communicate their needs independently (with assistive device if needed) and must be able to attend to group activities without one-on-one supervision (unless parent stays for duration of the group meeting).  Group enrollment is 3 minimum (for each session to run) and 6 maximum.  No refunds are provided for missed sessions.  STEPS for Kids reserves the right to reschedule meeting dates/times due to therapist absence or extenuating circumstances such as inclement weather. 

Group Cost:  $20 per group meeting;  $160 for all nine sessions

Payment is due in full at time of registration.

Call the office at 630-552-9890 or email with the subject line “Story Time” to register for Story Time Language Group today!

Social STEPS for Kids: Fall Groups Available!

Enrollment is now open for fall semester Social Skills Groups!  For children from 4 to 9 years old, Social STEPS for Kids meets once a week for 6 weeks with two consecutive sessions offered from September 20th through December 13th.   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 4-6 years

Session 1A: Saturdays, 9:00-10:00 am; September 2o through October 25, 2014

Session 2A: Saturdays, 9:00-10:00 am; November 1 through December 13, 2014 (no group meeting November 29, Thanksgiving weekend)

Group B:  For ages 7-9 years

Session 1B: Saturdays, 10:00-11:00 am;  September 20 through October 25, 2014

Session 2B:  Saturdays, 10:00-11:00 am;  November 1 through December 13, 2014 (no group meeting November 29, Thanksgiving weekend)

Cost per 6 week session: $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”.

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:






Sensory Friendly Film Event June 21

Ready for another great movie in a comfortable and relaxed setting? Next up is How To Train Your Dragon 2.  Join us at 10:00 am on Saturday June 21st at the NCG Cinema in Yorkville.  Lights are turned up a bit, sound is turned down and there is plenty of wiggle room for all.  Beat the heat, get out of the rain and watch a movie with the whole family on the big screen!

How To Train Your Dragon 2 picks up 5 years after our friends Hiccup and Toothless first met. When they discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

Can’t make it this Saturday? Don’t worry, we will be hosting sensory friendly films all year! Our next film, Planes: Fire and Rescuewill be shown on July 26th at 10:00 am.  Check out our full schedule for 2014 and mark your calendars for all the upcoming shows.   Admission is always $6 per person and special group concession rates are available with unlimited refills on popcorn and drinks.

All movies are shown at NCG Cinema 1505 N. Bridge St. Yorkville, IL

Call or email us for more information:  630-552-9890 OR

“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.  

Kids at Work: What OT for kids is all about

April is National Occupational Therapy Month; a time to raise awareness of what OT is all about.  OTs work with persons with disabilities to improve functional skills and participation in daily tasks.  Pediatric occupational therapy is a specialty area of practice that addresses child development, activity participation and performance skills so that children with disabilities can achieve their highest level of independence and success in daily activities.

Occupational Therapy derived its name from the use of “occupation” to refer to the roles, routines and activities that we engage in.   A child’s primary occupations include those of family member (son/daughter, sibling, etc), student or learner, friend and player.  A child may also have occupations such as athlete, musician, artist, caregiver for a pet, babysitter and so forth.  Occupational therapists evaluate a child’s developmental skills and assess strengths/impairments related to their ability to participate in daily activities.  Treatment is designed to help develop skills, adapt the environment, educate caregivers and improve participation in daily activities through the use of purposeful activities that are related to the occupations of the child.  The goal of OT is to help the child progress developmentally and participate in daily occupations to their highest potential.

To the casual observer, a child engaged in occupational therapy may appear to be doing nothing more than playing.  This is because a child’s primary occupation is that of “player.” It is through play that young children learn about their world and develop skills for living.   An OT session might involve use of gross motor play like navigating through an obstacle course of climbing, crawling, jumping, swinging and rolling.  Play activities are chosen to address the needs of the child and could include fine motor activities (handling small game pieces), visual motor activities (doing puzzles, drawing), or social interaction (turn taking in a game, compromising to choose play activities).  An OT is trained to analyze tasks or activities and choose those that will be motivating to the client, can be adapted to the “just right challenge” and meet therapy goals for improving skills and function.

OT includes using treatment activities to improve skills, teaching family and other caregivers about the child’s needs, educating others about environmental modifications or task adaptations to support the child’s participation and empowering the child and family toward self-advocacy for future needs.  Therapy goals are always directed toward increasing independence not only in a specific task but in the child and family being able to meet their own needs when direct treatment is over.  Treatment in a clinic setting should always be focused on helping the child to attain a level of function where they are able to participate in home and community activities in a more effective manner so that natural developmental processes can take over.

While children may receive OT services in the school setting under an IEP or 504 Plan, it is important to note the differences between OT in an educational setting versus a clinical setting.  In the school, OT is provided to support the child’s participation in school related tasks and all services must relate directly to the child’s needs in the educational setting. Services in the school are likely to target specific skills such as handwriting or producing written work or regulating behaviors and social skills in the classroom.  This is in contrast to clinic based or “private” OT services which are not limited in the same manner. Many children receive school based services but also require additional OT services to address all of their needs.

At STEPS for Kids, our occupational therapists specialize in providing comprehensive developmental services focusing on a child’s strengths to support their skill development in other areas.   Focusing on functional outcomes as identified during the evaluation through assessment and parent interview, our OT staff uses developmentally appropriate activities to engage children in motivating play that encourages active participation and skill acquisition.  We provide parent education and support for understanding the child’s needs, accessing resources and empowering families for the future.

Wondering whether your child may benefit from occupational therapy? STEPS for Kids offers free screenings that will help you know whether a full evaluation is needed.  Please contact us to schedule a screening or ask about our services.  We are happy to discuss your concerns any time.

Looking for more information? The American Occupational Therapy Association has more information about OT as well as tips for many aspects of child development and daily activities.