Author: Kenny Schultz

The Importance of a Summer Routine

The Importance of a Summer Routine

When school ends your child’s daily routine doesn’t have to! Summer is the perfect time to remain consistent. For kids, having a routine in the summer is especially important. It helps provide stability, which is crucial for their development and well-being. Here are several ideas for a summer routine:

Encourage Healthy Habits: 

  • Continue establishing enough time for physical activity throughout your child’s day.
    • Play outside
    • Swim
    • Obstacle courses inside or out
    • Sports 
    • Bike Riding
  • Make sure your child is still going to bed at their regular time. 
    • Encourage your child to wake up and go to sleep around the same time each day

Encourage Creativity: 

  • Introduce new activities or hobbies to your child.
    • Gardening
    • Join a club or sports team
    • Play an instrument 
  • Allow time for your child to be bored during the summer. This allows your child to be creative and think of something new to do. 
  • Balance screen time and set limits for the amount of time your child spends on their iPad or watching television.

Educational Opportunities: 

  • Provide time for reading, STEM activities, visit museums, or engage in different art activities.

Make a Summer Bucket List:

  • This is the perfect idea for collecting ideas and putting them all together on one page. Have the whole family join to make it even more fun! 

By maintaining a routine, kids can enjoy their summer while staying healthy, active, and intellectually stimulated. This balance of structure and flexibility helps them make the most of their summer break. Our Occupational Therapy team can help you find the perfect modifications to your child’s routine to problem solve any tricky times during your day! Reach out to schedule a free screening for some tips! 

Written By: Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L

The ABC’s of Toileting Readiness for Kindergarten!

The ABC’s of Toileting Readiness for Kindergarten!

Kindergarten is a time filled with excitement and anticipation, but also marked by apprehension and changes in routine. Amidst this whirlwind of new experiences, one aspect that often proves challenging is toileting readiness. Feeling apprehensive about your kindergartener’s bathroom autonomy at school is entirely natural. Mastering the skills required can be daunting, especially for those encountering hurdles along the way. Achieving toileting success in kindergarten is a milestone for both children and their caregivers.

Here are some factors that contribute to kindergarten toileting success:

  • Awareness of bodily functions: This is called interoception, an important part of our sensory system. It allows your child to recognize when they need to use the bathroom, whether it’s for urination or bowel movements.
  • Communication with caregivers: The ability for your child to signal when they need to use the toilet and when they’ve had accidents.
  • Comfort with the bathroom environment: Being at ease with the sights, sounds, and smells of the bathroom is essential for successful toileting.
  • Understands toileting sequence: Knowing the steps involved in using the toilet, from undressing, sitting or standing, wiping, dressing, and washing hands with minimal assistance.
  • Independence on child-size toilet: Being able to get on and off the toilet seat without help and maintaining balance for a few minutes.
  • Comfort using bathrooms outside home: Transitioning to using toilets in unfamiliar settings, like at school.
  • Self-care skills: Pulling up and down pants and underwear and attempting to wipe independently with minimal assistance.

It’s helpful to remember that toileting success is a developmental milestone, and every child progresses at their own pace. While some children may quickly adapt to kindergarten toileting routines, others may require additional time and support. 

If your child needs extra assistance to prepare for kindergarten success, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experienced therapists specialize in addressing toileting challenges, including avoidance, withholding, constipation management, and daytime and nighttime incontinence. With personalized interventions and compassionate support, we’re here to help your child navigate this important milestone with confidence. 

Written By: Andrea Turnell, DPT and Dana Bukala, PTA


Torticollis is a condition most commonly diagnosed in infancy in which the baby’s head is consistently tilted or turned to one direction. It is often present beginning at birth, but is typically noticed at 1-2 months of age as the baby’s head control improves. The most common cause is tightness in the neck muscles due to a variety of potential factors. 

Torticollis risk factors:

  • Positioning in utero
  • Delivery in breech position or use of forceps for delivery 
  • Multiples birth (twins, triplets, etc.) 
  • Reflux (GERD)
  • Vision concerns
  • Genetic factors and syndromes 

Signs of torticollis:

  • Baby or child consistently tilts head towards one side in most positions
  • Baby or child consistently turns head (rotates) or looks in one direction  
  • Baby has difficulty bottle feeding or breastfeeding on one side noted
  • Baby has a flat spot on the head
  • Baby has asymmetries in the head and facial region

Torticollis can be treated by a pediatric physical therapist (PT). Your PT will work with you and your baby to create an individualized plan of care including stretching and strengthening activities for your baby’s neck and trunk. Improvements in strength and head position are typically noted within the first few months of physical therapy with a good prognosis to completely resolve the torticollis, especially if treated early. If left untreated, torticollis can impact the following areas of development: rolling, sitting, pulling to stand, crawling, standing, walking, balance, vision, bottle feeding and breastfeeding, and eating. 

Conditions associated with torticollis:

It is never too early to intervene and to treat torticollis. Schedule a free screening with a physical therapist at BDI Playhouse if you have any questions about your baby’s head position or head shape. So worry not, our BDI Playhouse therapists are experts in this area and we are waiting to answer any questions you may have! 

Written by: Cassidy Bannon, PT, DPT

How Does Vision Affect Behavior?

How Does Vision Affect Behavior?

Vision plays a pivotal role in shaping our behavior, influencing how we interact with and respond to the world around us. With approximately 80% of sensory input being visual, our perception of the environment profoundly impacts our actions and reactions.


There are two types of visual pathways focal and ambient:

  • Focal visionvisual attention to the “what”; central vision; focus on an object of interest; creates visual perception; requires efficient eye teaming (clear focus on image with both eyes simultaneously); active/conscious skill 
  • Ambient vision: visual attention to the “where”; peripheral fields; creates spatial map of where our body is in relation to objects in our environment; assists with creating stability; inactive/unconscious skill

Perception leads to > prediction leads to > brain function: fight, flight, freeze or rest and digest response: 

  • Perception: the active process of bringing meaning to an object; creates prediction for motor responses
  • Prediction: expectation of events not yet to come 
  • Fight, Flight, Freeze: The body’s stress/fear response
  • Rest and Digest: The body’s calm/resting state

If there are deficits in visual function, deficits in visual perception occur which can lead to unpredictability and emotional instability 

  • Children with developmental delays are commonly found to have deficits in visual function 
  • Developmental obstacles disrupt critical voluntary and reflexive muscle responses and mental processes which impact behavior 
  • When the brain perceives danger, fight or flight responses are activated 


What Can We Do to Help?

An Occupational Therapist can:

  • Provide analysis on vision, somatosensory and vestibular (sensory) function
  • Create multi-sensory interventions to rewire and fire neural responses 
  • Identify specific deficits and implement a treatment plan and suggestions for home
  • Educate children and families on calming strategies to de-escalate aversive behaviors 
  • Facilitate fine/visual motor activities such as building with blocks, stringing beads, blowing bubbles, hitting a balloon, and more!

Written By: Jamie Blough, COTA

Singing for Speech – Benefits of Singing for Language Development

At any given moment when walking through BDI Playhouse, you may hear a therapist or child singing! Singing is great for both engaging with the child and improving language development! Here are a few benefits of singing for language development. 


  • Singing exposes children to lots of vocabulary! Lyrics often contain a wide range of words and phrases that may not be commonly used in everyday conversation. More exposure to vocabulary can improve expressive language skills. 


  • Singing requires clear articulation and pronunciation to match the rhythm and melody of a song. Practicing songs can help individuals work on their speech sounds. Add in target sounds your child is working on and you get lots of repetition! 

Memory and Recall

  • Melodies and lyrics are easier to remember than spoken words alone. Try singing directions or modeling language to familiar tunes to improve language retention. 

Social Interaction

  • Singing can be a social activity, whether in a choir, “mommy and me” classes, or as a family bonding experience. Social interaction is an important part of language development!

Attention and Focus:

  • Singing requires concentration and attention to the lyrics, melody, and rhythm. This helps children develop their ability to focus, a skill that can benefit other areas of language and communication.

Auditory Discrimination:

  • Singing encourages individuals to pay attention to many different sounds helping to improve auditory discrimination, which can help in recognizing speech sounds. 

Check out your local library or park district to see if there’s a music class available for you and your child! Check in with school to see if choir is an option at their age. Speak with an Speech Language Pathologist about ways to incorporate singing into your daily routines. You can schedule a free 30-minute screening here!


Written By: Shannon Okland, M.S., CCC-SLP 

Therapy Activities for Holiday Break

Therapy Activities for Holiday Break

Stuck at home with the kids during these Holiday weeks and looking for some entertainment ideas or ways to continue to progress their skills during all this down time? Look no further! Here are some therapy activities for holiday break!

  • Let the kids wrap up a small gift for their sibling. There are a few tips to make the unwrapping process by your child easier and more fun for everyone in our Gift Wrapping blog. 
  • Have your child remove tape from the dispenser, while you do the wrapping. 
  • Provide a line visual (can be a bit further than what you actually need to wrap) and have your child be the paper cutter. You can clean up the line later when the child is not around if need be.
  • Do the wrapping but show the child where you want them to place the tape pieces.
  • Have the child create their own ornaments for the tree with paper, hole puncher, and string/ ribbon to hang it.
  • Cut out a paper tree for the wall and have the child focus their attention towards decorating it. Include cutting string and taping it to the tree, making ornaments from paper to work on shape cutting, incorporating coloring, gluing, and stickers into decorating for some fine motor work. 
  • Set up a card making station for your child to create cards for presents to hand to teachers, grandparents, place on Secret Santa gift, etc. This is great to target folding paper, coloring, writing, adding stickers or working on gluing.
  • Have your child be the cookie cutter presser.
  • Require the child to utilize their thumb and pointer finger to lightly place sprinkles onto the cookies.
  • Make a scavenger hunt where the children have to listen to clues and search the house for tiny gifts.
  • Play freeze dance with Holiday music
  • Have your child make their own version of Elf On The Shelf by drawing, coloring, cutting and require them to hide it before they go to bed every night. In the morning, the parents have to find the kid’s hidden elf.

Try to allow your child full creative control on some of these open ended craft activities. This will give you time to focus your attention on other Holiday activities! Still looking for more ideas? Read our winter movement blog for more! Looking to get out into the community? Here are some fun ideas in the Chicago area.

If you notice your child having trouble with some of the fine motor or auditory processing skills listed in the above activities, don’t hesitate to reach out to BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy. We offer free screenings in Orland Park, IL and Aurora, IL.

Rebecca Brennan, OTR/L

Holiday Picky Eating

Navigating Picky Eating Around the Holidays

Navigating the Holidays with a Picky Eater

The holidays can be a special time for family, traditions, and some of our favorite foods.  It can be challenging (and stressful!) going to a family member’s house, knowing that your child will not eat any of the foods.  It can be an anxious time for a child that knows they will be asked to try new foods.  We understand that holiday picky eating can take a toll on the whole family and we want to help. We will share some tips to help your picky eater (and you) have a positive and enjoyable holiday meal! 


Include your child in the preparation

We want kids to have as many positive exposures to new foods as possible.  The more a child can interact with a food without necessarily eating it, the less scary it becomes.  Have your child wash vegetables, mix, pour, etc. to allow for more exposure to novel foods.


 Have preferred foods available

Bring a dish or two to share that your child enjoys.  This allows your child to feel included in the meal while making sure there is something for them to eat.  Your child can pick the amount of each food they want on their plate to encourage autonomy and allow exploration without creating pressure and anxiety around the meal.


Keep the environment fun and positive for your child

Keep the pressure extremely low to try new foods.  Encourage your child to put what they want on their plate. It is not uncommon for kids to not eat a large meal on the holidays because of the atmosphere and commotion the holiday brings.  Not sure what to say to your aunt that insists your child try their dish?  We have a blog post for that!


Interact with food without eating it

Try touching, smelling, licking, pulling apart new foods to allow for a positive interaction with food without pressure to eat it.  Being silly helps!  


Model trying new foods

Discuss foods that are your favorite in neutral terms (e.g., “I like this! It’s sweet! That one is crunchy”) Use descriptive language like hot, cold, salty, spicy, sweet, crunchy, etc. instead of words like good, bad, yummy, yucky, etc.  If a food is not your favorite, model trying a small taste and use language similar to “I am still learning about this food” to encourage your child to continue to try new foods.


If you feel like your child has difficulty at mealtimes, please reach out to us to schedule a free 30 minute screening at our Aurora or Orland Park clinic here to seee how we can help. You can learn more about our feeding therapy services here


Molly Rademacher, MA, CCC-SLP/L

Spooktacular Inclusive Halloween

Do you want your child with special needs to be able to participate and make memories this Halloween season? Great news, you can! Here are some tips and tricks to help children of all abilities have a spooktacular, inclusive Halloween.

  • Read a social story about Halloween multiple times to your child
  • Watch silly music videos about the Holiday
  • Practice in your house or at families houses in the weeks prior
  • Provide a visual schedule of steps if needed (ring bell, say “hi” or “trick or treat!”, hold out bag, say “thank you!”)
  • If your child is shy, has anxiety, sensory differences, or has limited language or communication difficulties, create a pre-made card for your child to hand to the household to say what your child cannot. 
  • Keep it short and simple if needed (goal: make it around the block; only do 10 houses and have child countdown to increase tolerance to activity)
  • Food intolerances or special diets? Replace your child’s candy with special foods that are more appropriate or swap with a new toy. Do some research into the fun tradition of the Switch Witch!
  • Work in tolerated exercise for your child (example: walk to one house, ride in the wagon to the next…repeat)
  • If your child does not want to walk up to people’s houses, you can still have them walk around outside and show off their costume. This is a great way to get exercise and practice waving at others. 
  • Have them help hand out candy. This is a fun way to practice their social skills and to work on counting. Practice some phrases they can say to trick or treaters before hand or offer a no-pressure way to wave or smile instead. 
  • Make sure your child’s costume is sensory friendly to their specific tactile needs. 

October is a great time to start talking to your Occupational Therapist about ways your child can participate in the many holidays to come. If your child is having difficulty participating in the upcoming Holidays, our team of therapists is here to help you find ways to make the holidays more enjoyable, click here to schedule a free screening and we’d be happy to discuss ideas with you!

Rebecca Brennan, OTR/L

A girl races in the I Can Du It! Adaptive Duathlon using her wheelchair. The weather is rainy, but everyone has a smile on their face.

BDI’s Inaugural I Can Du It! Adaptive Duathlon

Visit our 2024 Event Page to Sign Up for This Year’s Race!

Sunday, September 17th was a big day for BDI Playhouse, who hosted their inaugural I Can Du It! Adaptive Duathlon. This race was the first ever adaptive sporting event hosted by BDI Playhouse and one of the only of its kind in the area. Adaptive sports are modified or adapted activities or sports that allow people with a disability or physical limitation to participate with increased independence, enjoyment, and self-confidence. 

The racers had been preparing for this day for a very long time and the day was finally here! The countless hours working on biking skills and building endurance was about to pay off. On this day, 22 racers, both children who have disabilities and their siblings, braved the rain and gathered at BDI Playhouse in Orland Park to race laps around the parking lot with a modified run-bike-run format in order to include kids of all abilities. Racers used assistive devices, adapted bikes, wheelchairs, specialized wheelchairs, bikes with training wheels, and two-wheel bikes to complete the 1-1.5 mile race course. Each racer had a buddy to race with, their choice of either a family member or therapist, to ensure safety and encourage the racers along the course. 

Despite the rain clouds above, you could feel the excitement in the air. Race t-shirts were worn, cheering was heard, and medals were awarded to all of our hard-working athletes. It was hard to tell if the smiles on the parents’ or the racers’ faces were bigger! One mother said that her daughter who raced “was on cloud nine from start to finish”. Meanwhile, her daughter excitedly shared that her “favorite part of the race was biking through all the puddles!” One of BDI Playhouse’s therapists exclaimed that today was “the best morning at BDI” that she’s ever had. 

To our greatest excitement and despite the rainy weather, the race went off without a hitch! Families, racers, volunteers, and therapists shared in the excitement following the race, excitedly discussing plans for the race next year. For the first year, registration was kept to invitation only as a first year test-run, so to speak. We look forward to growing the race next year with a goal of opening the race to more community members to further promote inclusion and access to adaptive sports of all varieties for kids of all abilities.

No amount of photos or words can accurately and fully describe the pride, excitement, and pure joy the day encapsulated. This day will truly live on in the memories of our clients and racers, families, and therapists minds forever. So until the planning process begins for next year’s Adaptive Duathlon, which will be here sooner than we know, please join us in reliving the day with these heartwarming and inspiring photos.

Keep scrolling to check out the photo highlights from the race!

Cassidy Bannon, PT, DPT

Prepare for Back-to-School with Occupational Therapy

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Back-to-School from an Occupational Therapist

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Back-to-School from an Occupational Therapist

As the summer draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking about heading back to school. For students, this transition can bring a mix of excitement and anxiety. Setting students up for success by helping them prepare for the challenges that lie ahead can make the transition go smoothly. Some things to start working on ahead of time are establishing routines, organizing workspaces and supplies, fine motor skills, social skills, and sensory supports. All of this preparation can feel overwhelming, but the occupational therapy team at BDI Playhouse can help you in any of these areas that you find to be tricky for your child. You can schedule a free screening with an occupational therapist just to brainstorm some tips that can help you prepare for back-to-school or to discuss how occupational therapy services might benefit your family.  

1. Establish a Routine: One of the most important aspects when you prepare for back-to-school is establishing a consistent routine. Over the summer break, sleeping schedules often become more relaxed, and days tend to be less structured. However, returning to school requires a regular sleep pattern and structured daily routines. Gradually adjust bedtimes and wake-up times to align with the school schedule, allowing the body to adapt to the changes. Establishing routines for meals, homework, and extracurricular activities will also help create a sense of predictability and reduce stress. Occupational therapists can help you develop these routines and can also provide help to make it easier for your child to follow their routine without assistance with tasks or a million pesky reminders from caregivers.

2. Organize and Prepare: Getting organized is crucial for a successful school year. Help your child set up an organized workspace, whether it’s a dedicated desk or a specific area for homework. Ensure necessary school supplies, textbooks, and materials are readily accessible. Organize backpacks or bags by creating designated compartments for different items. Teach your child how to use a planner or calendar to keep track of assignments, due dates, and extracurricular activities. By promoting organization skills, you can reduce anxiety and increase productivity. Occupational therapists can help identify the best way in which to organize materials to promote independence, modify supplies to best fit your child’s needs, and provide tools to help your child keep themselves on track. 

3. Fine-Tune Motor Skills: Fine motor skills play a significant role in various school activities, such as writing, using scissors, and manipulating small objects. They are also important for your child to be able to open their backpack, snack and lunch containers, and to complete other self care tasks during the school day without help from their teacher. Engage your child in activities that enhance fine motor skills, such as coloring, drawing, puzzles, and arts and crafts projects. Encourage hand strengthening exercises through play, such as squeezing stress balls or using play-doh or putty. These activities help improve dexterity, handwriting, and overall coordination, leading to better academic performance. During therapy sessions, occupational therapists help children to develop these skills through carefully selected and graded activities that provide a just-right-challenge for improving fine motor skills. An OT can also help you to identify some ways that you can modify activities in ways that either promote increased fine motor skills or that make a difficult task more accessible for your child. 

4. Foster Social Skills: Going back to school means interacting with peers, teachers, and other staff members. Social skills are crucial for building relationships and creating a positive school experience. Encourage your child to participate in social activities during the summer to help them practice communication, turn-taking, and problem-solving skills. Arrange playdates, join summer camps, or engage in team sports. Additionally, discuss and role-play social scenarios, teaching your child appropriate responses and behaviors. By fostering social skills, you can boost your child’s confidence and help them form meaningful connections at school. Occupational therapists commonly work with children to address these struggles and have so many great ideas for some strategies that you can try at home. 

5. Manage Sensory Needs: For children with sensory processing challenges, the school environment can be overwhelming. Take time to assess and manage your child’s sensory needs before the school year begins. Consult with an occupational therapist who can provide strategies and interventions to address specific sensory issues. Create a sensory toolkit containing items such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, and stress balls, which can help your child self-regulate and stay focused in the classroom. Collaborate with teachers to create a sensory-friendly learning environment that accommodates your child’s needs. Interpreting your child’s sensory needs and identifying the best ways to support them can be tricky, occupational therapists can work with you to help meet your child’s sensory needs, create activities and routines to regulate their sensory systems, and discuss ways in which you can advocate for your child as they return to the school environment. 

Preparing for back to school involves more than just buying school supplies and new clothes. Focusing on establishing routines, organizing and promoting independence, fine-tuning motor skills, fostering social skills, and supporting sensory needs will help your child be their very best as they go back to school this Fall. By implementing these five tips, you can set your child up for success, ease the transition, and create a positive and productive school experience. The back-to-school period is an opportunity for growth, learning, and building resilience, and with the right preparation, your child can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally! Our team is ready to help you during any step of the way. You can schedule a free screening to discuss any road bumps you may have and we will be happy to talk about some specific strategies to try at home as you prepare for back-to-school!  

Written by: Kourtney Schultz, MOT, OTR/L