Child therapy: What is ABA therapy?

Lumiere Children’s therapy now offers Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services as part of its comprehensive programming.  ABA is an evidence-based therapy that uses motivation and interests unique to each child in order to teach new skills across all domains. ABA therapy focuses on positive reinforcement to encourage beneficial behaviors and reduce ones that may be harmful or interfere with new learning. ABA is most successful when all parents and caregivers are educated and informed on the components and techniques of ABA therapy for their child.


What does ABA therapy involve?

ABA therapy focuses on individualized intervention based on the learner’s motivators, skills, needs, interest, and family/caregiver situation. Therefore sessions will look different from person to person, but each approach will consist of common components: discrete trail teaching, programming for generalization to natural environment, reinforcement, prompting and fading strategies, and outcome-based decision making.

• Discrete trail teaching: Discrete trail teaching involves taking a task and breaking it down into smaller parts in order to teach and reinforce a behavior. Breaking a task into steps allows for recognition of underlying skill deficits that need to be addressed in order to successfully complete the given task.

• Programming for generalization: Sessions will initially occur in a calm, isolated environment to eliminate all distractions or barriers in order to facilitate new learning. Once the skill is learned in a quiet, structured environment, the child will practice the new skills across all daily environments. The new skill is considered mastered once a child is able to successfully generalize the skill across all environments.

• Reinforcement: ABA focuses on the principle of positive reinforcement to encourage new learning. Therapist will take a reinforcer assessment to determine the child’s preferred activities and items. Multiple reinforcer assessments will be completed throughout the program to continue to implement appropriate and desired motivators.

• Prompting and fading strategies: As new skills are introduced, therapist and caregivers provide multiple cues and prompts to help a child be successful. As the child continues to show progress in learning a skill, prompts will begin to decrease until the child can independently demonstrate understanding.

• Outcome-based decision-making: ABA relies on objective information from concrete data to guide therapy session goals. Therapy goals will emphasize appropriate skills needed to be successful in a variety of areas including communication, sociability, self-care, play and leisure, motor development and academic skills. The intervention involves ongoing objective measurement throughout sessions, which is frequently analyzed to determine progress and adjust procedures and goals as needed.

For more information on ABA therapy and to register for our program, visit  Lumiere Children’s therapy website here. Our knowledgeable ABA therapist will put your child and family’s needs first to ensure progress and successful outcomes!



What is ABA therapy? . (n.d.). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from http://www.appliedbehavioralstrategies.com/basics-of-aba.html

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). (2012, July 24). Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba

Inside Movement Activities For Your Toddler

As the weather starts getting colder, it can be harder to get outside and help your child get his or her “wiggles” out. Here are some games/activities to encourage your child to move around both inside and outside your house! These activities do not require many extra resources, other than printing out pages from online or utilizing construction paper. While these activities are perfect for inside play, they can also be played while on an afternoon walk, or at a park!


Inside Games

 — Red light, green light

Stand with your child at one end of the room or hallway. Providing a visual line on or “X” or spot on the floor can help guide your child to know where to stand to start. Explain to your child what each sign means: Green means GO!, Red means STOP!, Yellow means SLOW!. (If you have more than one child playing, the children can race.)

Have your child start with an easier skill of walking to grasp the idea of the game, then progress to other motor skills such as crawling on hands and knees, belly crawling, jumping on two feet, skipping, walking backwards, sideways, etc.

You can print out pictures of a traffic light or make your own with construction paper!

To give Red Light, Green Light a holiday theme, pretend you are walking/running/driving to Thanksgiving dinner, to see Santa, being in the snow, or to pick up a Christmas tree etc to get your child in the season/holiday spirit.

— Simon Says

The traditional game of simon says can incorporate as much movement as you want! Some examples of motor activities for Simon Says include:

• Stomp your feet 4 times

• Put your foot in the air

• Touch your toes

• Reach to the sky

• Turn in a circle

• Make your arms like a T

• Make your arms like an X

• Put your feet far apart

• Put your feet together

• Jump up 4 times

• Run in place

• Jump forwards (sideways, or backwards)

• Wiggle your fingers

• Touch your head

• Put your arms straight in front of you

• Skip, gallop (for higher level, ages 5+)

This game also helps to develop hand-eye coordination (by imitating “Simon”) as well as body awareness.

To give Simon Says a holiday theme, you can change the name of the game to “Turkey Says” or “Santa Says” etc. For older children (ages 3+) you can also select one of them to be “Simon” to give them a change to take a turn to lead and work on selecting/stating ideas.

 — Rolling a pumpkin

Rolling a pumpkin or ghord from one side of the room to the other can be hard work! This can help your child to work on hand-eye coordination as well as strengthening their legs (as they are in a squatted position) and strengthening their arms as they push and pull. Have your child roll their pumpkin (or ball) to one side of the room. You can incorporate a game by timing your child, “racing” against you or another child, or forming a relay race (if more than two children).

 — The animal game

Have your child walk like many different animals. These positions help strengthen their legs, arms, and core, while your child has fun pretending to be various animals.

•   Bear: walking with feet and hands on ground at the same time

•   Dog or Cat: crawling on hands and knees

•   Snake: belly crawling

•  Frog: Large jumps that start with feet on floor, knees and hips bent, and hands on floor in front of them as they explode up.

•   Kangaroo: Hopping on two feet in a standing position

•  Crab: Walking on hands and feet with their stomach facing the ceiling (a more difficult position). Children can modify this animal position by sitting on their bottom and scooting backwards with their arms on the ground.

 — Child Yoga

Child yoga positions can be fun yet calming to your child! Getting into each position by imitating a parent/therapist and/or a picture requires body awareness and visual understanding. Changing from one position to another can help your child learn how to sequence activities. While your child maintains the position, the sensory input to their body can be calming as well as strengthening.

For further child yoga positions, look online for Child Yoga downloads.

   •     http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/?s=yoga

   •     http://www.yogadownload.com/yoga-classes/yoga-for-kids-online-classes.aspx

 — Balloon Play

Since balloons are lightweight, they are a great tool to use within the home without worrying about knocking over furniture. Here are a few games to play with the balloon:

•   Catch: simply play catch back and forth. This is great for children starting around age 3 who are just learning to catch a ball with two hands.

•   “Volleyball” with hands: help keep the balloon afloat and encourage your child to help keep the balloon in the air, by tapping ball with one or two hands. This requires hand-eye coordination as well as lots of movement as the balloon can fly every which way!

•   “Volleyball” with feet: the same as above, but encourage your child to tap the balloon with only his foot or knees. This helps with developing hand-foot coordination as well as balance and strength for standing on one leg to contact ball with opposite foot/knee.

 — Ball Play

•   Encourage your child to throw underhand throws into a opened but wrapped box

•   Pretend you are throwing a “tree ornament” into a basket

•   To make more difficult for older children: have them stand on one foot or on a pillow as they throw.

 — Masking Tape

•   Masking tape is great to place on hardwood or tile floors because it peels off easily. You can place tape on the floor and encourage your child to walk on the “balance beam”. Tape is a helpful visual cue that children utilize to guide the place for their movement. It further works on foot-eye coordination as well.

•   Straight line, zig-zag, in the shape of a tree (any shape or line works well!)

•   Have your child walk on the line forwards, backwards, sideways, heel to toe

•   Place the tape making an X and have your child jump or hop from X to X

Play ideas: pretend the line is a bridge over water or hot lava and your child has to stay on the bridge.


Morgan Ahluwalia, Physical Therapist, PT, DPT

Child Therapy: Development of Theory of Mind

 “Psychology dictionary” defines the Theory of Mind as “the capacity to imagine or form opinions about the cognitive states of other people: What does the other person know? What behavior is that person most probable to take?” Theory of Mind simply means the child is able to put themselves into someone else’s shoes.

Early stages

Studies have shown that children develop signs of Theory of Mind as early as 14 months. Here are some developing signs that the child is beginning to form a Theory of Mind:
  • Mimicking others.
  • Labeling other people’s emotions (sad, happy, mad).
  • Understanding people have different likes.
  • Anticipating the emotions of someone else. For example, if they take away another child’s toy 
the child will be upset.
  • They are able to imagine they are a different person (nurse, mommy, police) during pretend 
theory of mind 1
Lyn Lomasi



The Theory of Mind is fully developed around age 4. Once a child has a full Theory of Mind they are able to understand concepts of false belief and hidden feelings. False belief is understanding that people will act according to their beliefs not what is actually true. A study was conducted using a crayon box full of candles. When the instructor asked the child what was in the crayon box, they guessed crayons. Once the candles were exposed, the instructor asked the child what would another person guess was in the crayon box. If a child had not yet developed the concept of false belief they would say candles. If a child had developed false belief they would have said crayons since it is a crayon box. 
Once a child develops Theory of Mind, they are able to make decisions based on how they think other people will react. Children will start to show empathy to other students. They realize that people want different things than them and act differently to receive it. Eventually children will understand the idea of “hidden feelings”. They realize people can feel a different emotion from the one they are showing, which leads into the act of lying.

For more information of Theory of Mind refer to this Hanen Centre article. 


Lowry, Lauren. ""Tuning In" to Others: How Young Children Develop Theory of Mind." Tuning In to Others: How Young Children Develop Theory of Mind. The Hanen Centre, n.d. Web. 17 June 2015.

Child Speech Therapy: Imitation Strategy for Receptive Language

Receptive language deals with what we hear and how we interpret the information. Receptive language allows the child to understand the world around them. In one of our previous blog posts, we introduced the child speech therapy strategy of labeling to help develop receptive language. The next strategy in this series of child speech therapy strategies for receptive language is imitation.
What Does Imitation Mean?
Imitation is an important skill that is used to acquire new words, word formation, and semantic structures. Turn taking is important in order for imitation to be effective. Your child will not understand how to imitate a person without someone modeling the action first. A great way to incorporate imitation and turn taking is during DIR floor- time. DIR floor-time is when you are on your child’s level and joining in on their playtime.
Quinn Dombrowski

Activities to Try at Home
There are three steps to implement the strategy of imitation:
         1. Join your child at play (DIR floor-time).
         2. Mimic the child’s actions or sounds by taking turns.
         3. Introduce new actions or sounds for your child to imitate once your child is comfortable. 

Here are some examples:
  •           If your child is not ready to talk yet, actions and signs can be a great alternative for effective communication. For example, waving bye-bye, blowing a kiss, or shaking the head “no”. The more the caretaker models the behavior with the meaning of the phrase, the easier it will be for the child to understand the motion. Wave goodbye to your child every time you separate from them so they can start to associate waving with leaving.  Once they understand the meaning of the wave, they will begin to imitate the action.
  •          Once your child is starting to make sounds, imitate the sounds they are making. If your child says, “ooh” repeat “ooh” back to teach the concept of turn taking. Once your child is familiar with how turn taking works, try to incorporate a new sound such as “aah”. You might be surprised to hear your child say it back to you! It is important to only introduce new sounds instead of words.
  •         If your child is becoming more vocal, join him or her at playtime. For example, if a child is playing with a toy cow and says “moo,” you can take the toy and imitate the same motion by saying “moo” back. The child is now aware that you want to play. Continue to take turns by moving the cow and saying “moo”. The child will begin to anticipate your response after every time he or she says “moo”.  Once the child is comfortable, you can introduce new sounds or words to improve their communication skills. For example, pick up the cat toy and say “meow”. Your child might realize it is their turn and imitate you by saying “meow” in response.

 Receptive language develops best in the child’s natural environment. It is important to implement these strategies into your daily routine to see the most success from your child. For more great activities and examples click here
Heidi. "Using Turn Taking & Imitation to Encourage Communications." Mommy Speech Therapy. Mommy Speech Therapy, n.d. Web. 22 July 2015.

Swigert, Nancy B. "Chapter 8: Intervention for Receptive Language." Early Intervention Kit. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, 2004. 85. Print.

Child Therapy Chicago: Indoor Activities

School is out for the summer! Finding fun, active, and engaging activities for your children can be a challenge. Here is a list of child therapy Chicago activities to help improve gross motor skills. These indoor activities work especially well for all the rainy Chicago days we have had this summer!
821 W Eastman Street, Chicago IL
Check daily for open gym times. $12 per child.
Pump It Up consists of multiple larger-than-life inflatables with obstacles, slides, and bouncy areas. Kids love all the different types of inflatables. It is a great place to go on a rainy afternoon or to host a birthday party!
Gross motor goals: Jumping on the inflatables improves balance for children. The bouncing motion helps children become aware of their body movement and expands sensory input comfort in children with sensory sensitivity. 
2827 W. Belden Ave. Chicago, Il 60647
Family Yoga and Baby & Me are $10 per family (up to 4 family members). Children under 1 year are free.
Family yoga is an introduction for kids that incorporate breathing, dancing, story time, and games. Baby & Me is geared towards creating time during yoga practice to interact with your pre-crawling babies.
Gross motor goals: Yoga practices balance, strength, and flexibility, which are the roots of developing gross motor skills.
1416 W. Webster Avenue.
My Gym Chicago offers 19 classes, including gymnastics, dance classes, martial arts, and more. Their classes are appropriate for children from 7 months to 10 years of age. The average cost for a 4-class cycle is $95.
Gross motor goals: Any of the classes offered at My Gym Chicago will strengthen your child’s gross motor skills. They are created to improve coordination, body awareness, strength, and flexibility.
1837 W. Grand Ave, Chicago, IL
Open playgroups are Monday-Friday at 9:30 am-4:30 pm. Price varies depending of number of children. Single child $14.
Kid City is an indoor play space where children use pretend play to explore the functions of a city, such as a market, play house, or dress up boutique. It is great for all ages and there is even a designated toddler area.
Gross motor goals: Children are not only improving their gross motor skills through pedaling toy cars and going on the slide, they are also increasing their fine motor skills. The child’s fine motor skills are practiced through crafting, dressing up in costumes, and playing the cashier role at the play market.

1504 N Fremont Street, Chicago, IL
Classes last 7-weeks and prices range depending on the class. 
Bubbles Academy offers 5 classes including creative movement, kids art classes, pre-preschool, preschool prep, and preschool separation. Parents may participate and model behaviors for their children. For some classes, they are encouraged to sit back while their children become more independent. The classes are structured around a variety of fun, engaging activities that all children will enjoy. 
Gross motor goals: The classes are meant to be active! Children will be running, dancing, galloping, marching, and stomping.
1500 N. Kingsbury, Chicago IL
They offer 3 price packages for classes: 10 class: $325, 30 class: $731, or monthly: $99/month.
Kids Science Labs offers a Toddler Discovery Science for 2-3 year olds. Children will do experiments with measuring, building, making observations, and identifying objects. They will be able to explore the world around them as little scientists!

Gross motor goals: Kids Science lab focuses on fine motor skills while doing experiments. For example, kids will pour, measure, cut, and color. 

811 W. Evergreen Ave, Chicago, IL
Step by Step Care Group provides multiple playgroups led by occupational therapists, speech therapists, and development therapists. The playgroups focus on improving fine motor, gross motor, speech development, and social interaction for toddlers.
For classes and pricing visit our website or contact Step by Step Care Group at (312) 242-1665.

Do you have any more fun activities we can add to our list? We would love to hear about your experience at any of these indoor activity locations or other locations in Chicago!

Co-Treatment... Things to know and consider

Image link from Gymboree
Many children receive more than one type of therapy. Children can have speech therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy and physical therapy. Sometimes therapists will recommend a co-treatment session. A co-treatment is when two therapists provide services at the same time. Upon first look, it may seem like the child is receiving less therapy. However, the benefits of a co-treatment session outweigh an individual session. When two different types of therapists see a child at the same time they are able to share their goals and how they work on them. For example, an occupational therapist could show how they address a child’s sensory needs and a speech therapist could share what techniques they are using to facilitate the child’s language development. Therapists can also share what is or is not working in therapy and collaborate to come up with the best treatment plan for a child. The ability for different types of therapists to share this information benefits the child because therapists can implement techniques from other types of therapies. This will make each therapy session more beneficialfor the child and therefore allow for the child to make the most progress. Overall,co-treatment sessions are valuable for both the child and therapists and can bean instrumental tool in producing improvements in therapy.

Fall Activities!

Photo by JustyCinMD

As noted on our website fall is a wonderful time of year to get out and explore the world with your children. Fall outdoor activities easily lend themselves to fine motor and language skill development.  These wonderful therapeutic activities will get you started. We would love to get your feedback on how this enhanced your child's fine motor and language skills, and provide a forum for our clients to share additional activities, questions, and concerns. Please let us know what you would like to know more about.  We are hear to empower families!