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Contact your state legislators to ask for supplemental funding this fiscal year for the state's Early Intervention program, which provides critical services to children who have or are at risk for significant developmental delays and disabilities. This increased funding will allow the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to address immediate and future program needs and respond to growing caseloads, increasing service delays and an impending workforce crisis.
An additional $15 million in funding for the Early Intervention program this fiscal year, Fiscal Year 2023, would allow IDHS to address growing service delays and the program's pressing workforce crisis. Funding can be used immediately to increase compensation for credentialed providers and improve the referral and evaluation process for families.
Contact your legislator(s) now and ask them to approve supplemental funding for Early Intervention this January to help ensure equitable access to necessary developmental services and supports that are known to dramatically improve a child's lifelong trajectory.
Monday, January 30, 2023, 10:24 AM
By: Anne O’Dowd, Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, CF-SLP What does Speech Therapy Includ…
By: Anne O’Dowd, Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, CF-SLP
Perhaps your child or another child you know is referred to see a speech-language pathologist from their doctor. When you think about the areas a speech-language pathologist treats, it is easy to assume we work only in the areas of speech and language, as our title implies. This is a common misconception.
In fact, our field is much larger than our title offers it to be. To provide a better view of the areas we treat, below is an extensive list of our scope or service delivery areas. A speech pathologist can help a child in nine key development needs. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, not all service delivery areas are offered at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, and individual speech-language pathologists can specialize in one or several areas. Areas in which we practice vary in development, some continuing to evolve (e.g., literacy) and others emerging.
Learn more about our speech services here.
Speech refers to the production of speech sounds, individually and in words. Children produce several typical speech errors that decrease over the first few years of life, resulting in adult-like speech. Intelligibility, how well an outside listener without context can understand an individual’s speech, is one quick tool we can use to measure speech development. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding speech:
Language refers to expressing and comprehending words through multiple modalities, including speech, writing, reading, speech-generating devices, picture symbols, and gestures. We use language for various intents, including sharing ideas and ensuring our needs are met. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding language:
Fluency refers to the rhythm of our speech. Typical speech is characterized by occasional disfluent moments (e.g., pauses and repetitions), although a higher frequency of these may be a cause for concern. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding fluency:
Voice refers to the quality, pitch, and volume of an individual’s voice. A voice disorder is present when one or more of these voice qualities are perceived as different or inappropriate for an individual’s gender, age, culture, and geographic location. Causes for variation in voice can be organic (e.g., structural changes due to aging, vocal fold paralysis) or functional (e.g., vocal fatigue). Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding voice:
Resonance in speech refers to the production of a filtered sound, beginning at the vocal folds. The sound travels through the pharynx and oral and nasal cavity. As it passes through, it is filtered and enhanced based on the shape and/or size of an individual’s vocal tract. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding resonance:
Typically, when discussing the pediatric population, Auditory Habilitation instead of rehabilitation is used as rehabilitation refers to restoring a skill that was lost. Often, a young child who presents with hearing loss or is Deaf has not yet developed age-appropriate auditory skills and therefore is not restoring the skill. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding aural habilitation/rehabilitation:
Learn more about our audiology services here.
Speech-language pathologists also provide services for individuals with Cognitive-Communication Disorders. In the pediatric population, the most common etiologies for cognitive-communication disorders are autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and traumatic brain injury. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding cognitive communication:
Feeding and swallowing refer to how individuals transport food and drink from their environment into their bodies. Speech-language pathologists are involved in the parts of this process that involve the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus. We collaborate with other specialists, such as nutritionists, occupational therapists, and gastroenterologists, to meet each child’s individual feeding and swallowing needs. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we treat regarding feeding and swallowing:
Learn more about our feeding clinic here.
Augmentative and Assistive Communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication that are used to supplement or replace oral speech to express thoughts, needs, wants and ideas. AAC allows children to communicate more easily and, in doing so, reduces frustrations for the individual and his or her family. There are several forms of AAC ranging from light tech to high tech. Below are some examples of the service delivery areas we provide in AT services:
Learn more about our Assistive Technology (AT) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) services here.
If you are concerned about your child’s language or other development, take our free online developmental screening tool for children birth to age five. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) will showcase your child’s developmental milestones while uncovering any potential delays. Learn more at askeasterseals.com.
To learn more about Speech Language services at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, click here or call us at 630.282.2022.
Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 2:12 PM
by: Theresa Forthofer, President & CEO This past summer, Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley suc…
by: Theresa Forthofer, President & CEO
This past summer, Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley successfully completed the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) re-accreditation process. As a highly respected and recognized third-party organization, CARF performs rigorous evaluations of service-based providers seeking accreditation. We are honored to be one of very few freestanding pediatric outpatient facilities in the area with CARF accreditation.
Their audits ensure that top service providers are easily recognized by the public when looking for providers who follow internationally accepted standards. We are proud to say that for more than 40 years, Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley has achieved the highest possible recognition from CARF, acknowledging our commitment to quality services and continual improvement.
“This achievement is an indication of our organization’s consistent dedication and commitment to improving health equity in our communities” said Theresa Forthofer, President & CEO of Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley. “Our CARF accreditation signifies that each child is receiving state-of-the-art services from our collaborative team of experts.”
Among the observations made by CARF in its survey of Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley at our three center locations (pictured below, left to right, Villa Park, Naperville, and Elgin):
As a pediatric specialty program, we are required to demonstrate compliance with over 1800 standards. Prior to the two-day survey, the survey team reviews clinical documentation samples, outcome and compliance reports, and thousands of policies. During the survey, the team interviewed Center Leadership, Key Process Owners, Medical Advisory Board members, funders, and most important, clients and families.
CARF uses the ASPIRE to Excellence Quality Framework to guide their survey. Their framework operates on a continuous improvement model which “provides a logical, action-oriented approach to ensure that organizational purpose, planning, and activity result in the desired outcomes.
The entire CARF survey lasts two days, but accredited centers such as ours must demonstrate we have upheld standards over the last three years, as surveys are conducted every three years.
Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley is a CARF accredited outpatient rehabilitation center with comprehensive services including occupational, physical and speech-language therapies, mental health, assistive technology, medical nutrition, audiology, autism services and inclusive childcare. With 80 therapists and professional staff specialized in early intervention, and further certified in Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT), Developmental, Individual-differences, & Relationship-based (DIR/Floortime) methods, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach, Sensory Integration and Praxis Test, feeding, motor, speech and sensory areas of specialties. Additionally Easterseals has a medical advisory board and affiliations with local hospitals and medical partners through our vision, orthotics, mobility, seating and diagnostic clinics. Learn more at https://www.easterseals.com/dfv/programs-and-services/.
Friday, December 23, 2022, 11:28 AM
By: Dr. Citlaly Gonzalez, Clinical Psychologist Winter weather and a week off of school, what better…
By: Dr. Citlaly Gonzalez, Clinical Psychologist
Winter weather and a week off of school, what better time to cozy up with a nice pile of books? There is something magical about the world that is waiting inside a book and the places and times you can travel to, the feelings they evoke, and the things we can learn.
As a psychologist, the opportunity to blend my appreciation for each person’s story and my love of reading has been an incredible thing. In my work in our Autism Diagnostic Clinic, my job is to include a recommendation to support each child’s development. I find that including a list of book recommendations with each report has been a fun way for parents to support their child’s needs.
When presented with the opportunity to write a blog about books I would recommend from a mental health lens, I jumped at the chance, but where to start? Books about feelings? Books on tough topics? My favorite children’s books? One blog post can’t cover them all (but maybe a part II or part III can try), so we’ll focus on the magic of reading with your child and what it can do to support connection, increase understanding of feelings and tough situations, and support the child’s sense of self.
There are so many books about feelings out there! It’s a beautiful thing. It’s best to start with feelings books at your child’s level. This could include introducing basic feelings concepts or stories with more complex social situations. Here are some of my go-to books!
Our therapy team is often asked for book recommendations to talk about tough topics. We welcome opportunities to connect families with books that can help them navigate hard discussions. If you are going through a challenging moment, feel free to reach out to your therapist or our mental health team for book recommendations. Your local library may also provide a wealth of resources!
Photo: Topics to Talk About display at the Berwyn Public Library
There are tough moments and there are beautiful moments and all of them deserve space and attention. At Easterseals we are dedicated to celebrating each child and their many skills, talents, and unique way of being. The following are some of my favorite books to celebrate children from a strengths-based frame. (Bonus: These are some of my favorite gifts for my children’s classrooms as a gentle reminder that there are so many ways kids share their gifts!)
The most important book you read might be the one you write together. How you write it, is up to you and your child.
Simply reading with your child is the best, no matter what book your reading, the connection between parent/guardian and child, language exposure, and of course the introduction to new themes all have the potential for so many benefits for wellness.
Our Mental Health team often receives requests for books on various themes which we happily oblige. We have recommendations for books on learning about feelings, grief, potty training, divorce, sharing a diagnosis, and more. We have another blog post with recommendations on best children books on disability. We have those recommendations and lots more! But here is my biggest tip, read these books before you think you need them. Have them accessible. Read about all abilities, cultures, and a wide range of challenges and situations. Normalize talking to your child about life challenges, feelings, and tough topics. This way, when a situation of their own comes up, they know it’s okay to talk about it. They will be less resistant to reading about it. They will be more prepared to handle it.
An added reminder for the parents of children who haven’t yet discovered the magic of books –kids don’t always start out loving books. There was a long stretch of time with my own children when it looked like I was reading to myself or the dog, but I knew that even while running around the room, they were listening. Hearing the stories, exposing them to language, and even the rhythmic reading of toddler books are way to support both connection and reading.
As a bonus recommendation for the kids who are still learning to appreciate books, I love to recommend the Indestructible series and any book with interactive components or buttons. Kids are always taking in pieces from the world around them, whether it’s the words you are reading or the fact that you are sitting, present with them.
So, if you are looking for a final gift to complete “the something you want, something you need, something you wear and something you read” I hope this list helps you find a new book to add under the tree, a book to quietly add to your library for “just in case” or even a simple surprise for an any day moment to have with your child.
For additional information on services for children with disabilities, visit: https://www.easterseals.com/dfv/programs-and-services/. The Easterseals’ Mental Health & Family Support team strives to provide children and families with the mental health support they need to help thrive and empower one another. Our work helps caregivers and children experience more joyful interactions through attunement and connection. For more information on our services, contact us at email@example.com.
Friday, July 1, 2022, 9:52 AM
By: Josephine Hipolito, Physical Therapist Summertime is approaching, and around this time, caregive…
By: Josephine Hipolito, Physical Therapist
Summertime is approaching, and around this time, caregivers often ask me to work on bike riding with their kids as one of their goals. As an avid cyclist, it’s one of my favorite things to teach because of the joy and freedom children feel when they learn to ride. Let’s start with a few tips on teaching children bike riding.
Things to Consider When Starting
3. Once they master air cycling, start them on a tricycle with a pedal block (a device that holds their feet on the pedals) or strap their feet on the pedals using an ace wrap or velcro straps. Children usually tend to over-push with their feet at first, so their feet slip off the pedals. Wrapping their feet will keep them on the pedals. You can also get commercially available pedal straps like this one.
4. Once they master the pedal block, take off the straps so they can learn to control their leg movement and keep their feet on the pedals.
5. Make sure they master pedaling with a tricycle so that it becomes second nature to them when they graduate to a bicycle.
I often tell families ready to progress their children from a tricycle to a bike, to start with a balance bike. A balance bike is simply a bike without pedals where children use their legs instead of pedals to move.
Skip the step of learning with training wheels because children can get dependent on leaning on them for balance. The Balance Bike enables the child to learn to find their center of balance on their own
NOTE: Not everyone will be able to get a balance bike and a bike with training wheels, so I recommend taking the training wheels AND the pedals off of a bike to convert it to a balance bike.
The problem with a bike with training wheels is the braking system. They use coaster brakes which means pedaling backward to activate the brakes.
Kids tend to start pedaling backward when they encounter resistance which activates the brakes. It’s always difficult for kids with motor planning issues to figure this out. That’s why you ensure they master the pedaling part of bike riding before moving on.
Keep an eye out for the following:
I hope this blog has been helpful wherever your child is on their cycling journey! Teaching children to cycle has numerous benefits to their development, including improving motor skills, strength and balance. It’s also a fun exercise that can be enjoyed with a sibling or friend!
if you ever have concerns about your child’s mobility, strength, or motor skills, Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley is here to help! Learn more about our physical therapy services by visiting:
Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome to ride distances ranging from 12 miles – 50 miles or join us in reaching a 100-mile goal throughout the summer on the Strava app. Adapted bikes and trailers are welcome. All ages and abilities are encouraged to participate.
We are excited to take this ride to the Fox River Trail and celebrate together at Festival Park in Elgin with food, refreshment, entertainment and more!
Learn more and register here: https://www.givegab.com/campaigns/bikeforthekids2022
Thursday, June 2, 2022, 10:33 AM
By: Allie Katsiris, PT, DPT What Does the Mobility Clinic Do? The Positioning and Mobility Clinic at…
By: Allie Katsiris, PT, DPT
The Positioning and Mobility Clinic at Easterseals provides a comprehensive evaluation of a child’s adaptive equipment needs. It is a collaborative clinic consisting of a physical therapist (PT) and an assistive technology professional (ATP) from a durable medical equipment vendor. Of course, the child and their family members are also valued members of the team. The two vendors that attend clinics at Easterseals are Numotion and National Seating and Mobility. There are a lot of options for seating and mobility devices available on the market, so the PT and ATP will utilize their knowledge, experience, and expertise to recommend the most appropriate equipment for your child.
At the initial evaluation, the PT and ATP will complete a comprehensive evaluation of the child including assessment of posture, range of motion, functional mobility skills, home assessment, and child/caregiver goals. Recommended mobility equipment may include: adaptive strollers, manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, or power assist wheelchairs. The clinician will also assess the need for specialized car seats or adaptive bathing equipment.
Following the initial evaluation, the PT will write a letter of medical necessity for the device. This letter will be sent to the child’s physician to be reviewed and signed. The vendor will submit the order and the letter to this insurance company for approval. Once approved, the device is ordered then delivered to the child. The PT and ATP work closely upon delivery to ensure the child is positioned appropriately and that the family understands all features for safe and effective use of the device. We recommended yearly rechecks to ensure that the device continues to properly support the child.
There are many factors that are considered when deciding on a mobility device. In addition to evaluating postural alignment and medical history, the team will ask about your child’s current mobility skills and goals. We will consult with primary therapists as needed to best understand your child’s abilities, functional goals, and endurance level in order to best recommend a mobility device. The team will also ask about your child’s home and school environments. Some considerations include: whether your home has stairs, location of the child’s bedroom/bathroom, and width of doorways.
It is important that the child be able to utilize recommended equipment in all environments to promote his/her best alignment and independence. Another important factor in recommending a mobility device is how the child is transported. Do you drive a compact car or SUV? Do you have an adapted vehicle? Does your child ride the school bus? The answer to these questions will help guide to whether a folding or non-folding option and transit accessories are required. Due to insurance limitations and expectations that mobility equipment will last 5-10 years, it is important that all of these factors, growth, and future needs are considered in order for the equipment to support the child for years to come.
At Easterseals DuPage and Fox Valley, we appreciate the importance of providing children with a safe means of mobility. This allows children better access to their communities and increases overall participation with their family and peers. We also recognize that the equipment ordering process can be overwhelming, so we are here to support you and help your child obtain the equipment he/she needs to thrive! Please contact us to schedule an appointment: 630-282-2023 or click here to learn more.
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