Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An In S.T.E.P.P.S. Update!

Happy Spring to all our of friends, families, team members, and supporters! We hope this little blog of ours finds you well. We wanted to take a few moments to update you on all the recent happenings over at In S.T.E.P.P.S. 

Last month, Executive Director, Dr. Yvonne Bruinsma was nominated for the Presidential Women of Influence Award. Today, Clinical Director, Dr. Erin McNerney, and Coordinator of Clinical Staff Development, Rachel Zetino, attended the Women of Influence Awards on behalf of Dr. Bruinsma, who was busy attending a national behavior analysis conference. The event highlighted the many strengths and contributions of business women across industries. It was an honor to see Dr. Bruinsma among these many accomplished women!

Dr. Yvonne Bruinsma, Executive Director and Women of Influence Award nominee!
Coordinator of Clinical Staff Development, Rachel Zetino, and Dr. Erin McNerney, Clinical Director, attended the awards in Dr. Bruinsma's honor!

In S.T.E.P.P.S. continues to expand! Our administrative department has been relocated to their very own suite (be sure to stop by and say hi!), and we are using the extra space for clinic rooms! We are so excited about this as it will allow us to better serve our clients by allowing for skill generalization to other environments, team meetings, observations, training, additional social skills groups, and more! If you are interested in moving any of your 1:1 sessions to the office, let us know!

We have several new clinic rooms at our Irvine office!
We even have a two-way mirror!

Our San Diego and Los Angeles locations are really up and running! Huge shout out to our Regional Directors, Nicole Horton and Nicole Floyd, as they have put in an abundance of work to help In S.T.E.P.P.S. reach these communities. If you or someone you know would like more information about our additional locations please email us!

In S.T.E.P.P.S. San Diego! Isn't it beautiful?!
Clinic room in San Diego
Reception area in San Diego

Parent's Night Out (PNO) is becoming increasingly popular every month! We love that this one evening a month allows parents to have some much deserved time off to enjoy a date night, see friends, catch a movie, grab some dinner, or just relax at home. As you may have noticed, we have set a maximum number of attendees on our RSVP list on Evite. This is to ensure that we have enough support staff to guarantee a low child to adult ratio, and to make sure it is a positive experience for all those that attend. Unfortunately, this may mean we have a wait list each month. We hope you understand! Be sure to RSVP early to claim your spot. If you have any questions, email Clinical Supervisor (and PNO organizer), Lindsey Lewis, at LindseyL@instepps.com. Our next scheduled PNO is Friday, April 29 from 6:30-9:30. You can find the answers to FAQ by clicking here

We always end PNO with a dance party!

We have a big presence on Facebook, so be sure to head on over there and check us out. Be sure to "Like" us so you see our daily posts, pictures, and announcements in your news feed!  https://www.facebook.com/In-Stepps-212450818767386/

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Well Deserved STAR Award!

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." 

It's that time again! We love the chance to recognize our outstanding therapists and this one is a doozy. This particular therapist is amazing and everyone she works with speaks of her with PRIDE! We wanted to share with you what a STAR this person is .... 

Congratulations, Erin! You are just the greatest and we adore you. Keep up the great work! 

Here are a few things Erin's supervisors had to say about her .... 

Erin is a FANTASTIC therapist!!! She is one of the most creative people I have ever met. She really dedicated herself to her clients and comes up with the most fun activities during sessions. Erin also works very independently and shows great clinical judgment and insight. Keep up the great work, Erin!! – Nicole F.

Erin is an exceptionally creative and resourceful therapist.  She has a great positive energy that she brings to her interactions with clients and coworkers that helps to put everyone involved in a better mood.  She is thoughtful, caring, playful, and professional and a great asset to any team she is on...  All that and she's an Excellent Dancer! – David K.

Erin is an incredibly thoughtful, kind, caring and creative therapist and person.  She is continually creating new, fun ways to play with toys and activities and goes out of her way to pick up or create items that will key in on her client's motivation and help them succeed.  It has been an honor to watch Erin bloom into such a strong therapist.  Erin's demeanor and personality lights up the homes she works in as well as our office.  It is an absolute pleasure to work with Erin and we are extremely lucky to have her as a part of our In STEPPS family! – Nicole H.

Erin is so creative and always finding different & cool activities to do with the kiddos. She can turn any simple regular craft into such a neat contraption of some sort. She even leaves parents scratching their heads thinking, "How did she come up with that?" She's pretty awesome! – Mayra S.

Erin really is an In STEPPS Star! She is creative, hardworking, dependable, and kind. Thank you for all that you do for In STEPPS. You are truly appreciated by us and families that have been lucky enough to work with you!​ –Diane G.

We are so impressed with Erin’s skills! She balances maintenance and acquisition tasks perfectly! She does a great job of embedding a variety of goals during sessions with her clients. Erin is also wonderful at priming and making expectations clear.  I love how Erin sets up opportunities and follows feedback. Erin is SO great! – Rachel Z.

Erin is an asset to the In STEPPS team! Her dedication to the families she works with is clear during every session. Erin takes such pride in her client’s accomplishments; her enthusiasm is contagious! Erin is also extremely “thrifty” and picks up toys and activities for her clients often. She is so creative in finding ways to target goals and maintain motivation during her sessions with these great finds! Erin makes such a huge difference in the life of each family she works with and the kids just adore her. We are so lucky to have someone like Erin on our team. We love you, Erin! – Lindsey L.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Hi Friends! Welcome back to our blog! Can you believe the holidays are already here? Where did 2015 go? Time flies! It has been a while since 1.) we have updated our blog and 2.) we have had the opportunity to recognize a worthy and wonderful In S.T.E.P.P.S. team member (blame it on the busy, busy work we do). We will get back to #1 soon since we have so many new and exciting things coming up that we can't wait to share. But for today, we wanted to take the time to praise one of our behavior therapists and share some of the qualities that make this particular person so awesome. 

So without further delay... drum roll ... Our IN ST.E.P.P.S. STAR award goes to .... 


Here are some of the things Steven's supervisors had to say about him: 

Steven has been an asset to each team he is on. He approaches each session with a  dynamic approach, bringing a fun and creative level of play to each session, and yet laid back attitude that draws the attention of every child to want to engage.  His hardworking work ethic, mixed with his personality make every session fly by. Steven applies feedback to his work promptly and eagerly and asks insightful questions. Steven is so flexible and dependable, always collects data, and steps up to the plate to help cover sessions whenever he can. He is a joy to have on any team! 

Steven has shown initiative in his professional development. He is very flexible and has been willing to take on a wide range of clients and accommodate changes to his schedule to best fit the needs of his clients.

It has been great having Steven on one of my cases. He is great with the client and makes the family feel comfortable in his presence. Steven is extremely flexible and can adapt at any moment to the current needs and motivation of the client. Steven responds well to feedback and immediately implements any suggestions given. Steven truly is a star at In Stepps.

Steven has a great, positive attitude and is always flexible. He has the wonderful ability to promote learning and teach skills inn an exciting way. Steven is so fun and the kids love him! 

Steven is such a fun therapist to watch. He easily adapts to working with so many different kiddos, who all have different needs and motivations.  He's a real asset to the In Stepps team! Congratulations Steven!

Thank you, Steven, for your hard work and dedication to all of your clients! We all appreciate you so much and so do the families you work with! 

Connect with In S.T.E.P.P.S.:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Things We Love: Snow!

It may be Spring, but we have a fun way to play in the “snow” at home! Thank you to one of our amazing therapists, Megan, for contributing this post to our ongoing “Things We Love” series. Let us know how this turns out!

Activity: Snow! This fun activity is super easy to make with 2 common household ingredients. Just combine 3 cups of baking soda & ½ a cup of hair conditioner!
Description: “Snow” takes less than 5 minutes to make and can be used to target numerous goals – especially when you add other items such as plastic animals, play-doh cutters/shapers, and craft supplies like popsicle sticks and pom poms! The possibilities are endless.  
Good for: Kids motivated by sensory play, pretend play, make-believe, expressive language goals, receptive language goals


Expressive Language

First Word Learners: Snow is usually stored in a plastic container or plastic bag. First words learners can request “open” as well as request “snow.” You can mold the snow into shapes and items to have first words learners request things such as “ball.” You can also incorporate different actions with the snow that a first words learner may use – “drop,” “smash,” and “push” or “press.” Get creative!

Two Word Requests: For shorter requests, kiddos can request what they’d like built – “small tower” “high wall” “big ball” “small snowman.” Many variations of this can be targeted with multiple cues including shapes, colors, size, and more!

Long Requests: You can target various three or more word requests such as “make a ball” or “give me snow.” You can also create opportunities to request items, and answer “wh”-questions (such as “what do I put in the snow?” or “where should I put the bear?”). When building something such as a snow house or snowman, kiddos can request parts of the house such as roof or door, or parts of a snowman such as arms and eyes. Kiddos can also request how they’d like something built – “make it high” or “make it low.”

Pretend Play

Aside from building a snowman, you can make-believe you’re cooking with snow and create any food item you can dream of! You can also pretend you’re playing in the snow, of course, and make snow angels, snow men, or snow forts! When incorporating other items, you can pretend to have a zoo with animals, a carwash with cars, or even create a house layout with a family.

Receptive Goals

One step: Snow can be used to target numerous one-step receptive directions including: “open the bag”, “pour the snow”, “make a ball”, “hand me the sticks”, etc. The motor skills to build with the snow are simple, and many of our kiddos can build easily. This gives lots of opportunities to follow a variety of instructions successfully, and it is really motivating!

Two-step with or without multi-cue: “Make a ball and hand it to me” – the immediate reinforcer can be completing a snowman with the ball. Easily add multiple cues with “big” or “little,” numbers, or preposition. “Pick up the hat and put it on top of the snowman!”  

Other Variations

Aside from “snow,” you can color this mixture with food coloring and make it into an aquatic sea tray with fish and boats. Or you could color the snow yellow to make sand and include cacti and rocks for a pretend desert. You could also pretend that it is sand from beach and add beach toys. The possibilities for scenes and play – even with the white snow – are endless! 

-Megan Y. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Things We Love: The Plastic Accordion Tube

Toy: The Plastic Accordion Tube aka "Pop Toob" 
Description: This toy is as simple as they come! It is a plastic tube that makes different sounds when you spin it. It folds up small or you can extend it and make it long. The activities you can create with this toy are endless!
Good for: Kids motivated by movement and sound, imitating sounds, targeting expressive language, pretend play, and social skills


Expressive requests

First words
“go” and/or “spin”

This toy is great for targeting these simple words. You can twirl the tube over your head, and as you do so, it makes a whistling sound. The tone of the sound changes by spinning it faster or slower. This creates a great opportunity to hold out for, or model, the word “spin.” You can also use the tube like a slide and have small toys slide down and prompt for “go.” This can be especially good for kids who do not yet have object permanence.

Two word combinations:
"Go fast", "go slow", "spin fast", "spin slow”, "long tube", "short tube”, etc. " Remember, the different speeds produce different tones which gives lots of opportunities for varied language!

Longer/ varied requests:
"Make a Light-Saber": turn off the lights and hold the short tube over a flashlight.  After the child makes the request you can turn the flashlight on and pull the tube long.
"Make a square.", "make an oval", etc.: you can many different shapes by connecting the tube together and bending it.
"Spin the tube fast", "spin the tube slow", and “spin the tube super fast!"

Imitating Sounds

A fully extended tube makes a great elephant trunk! You can hold it at the end of your nose, lift the other end high in the air, and make an elephant sound. Have your child do the same!

Use the tube as a telephone. Hold one end of the fully extended tube and have the child put near his/her ear. Use a whisper voice and talk into the tube. It’s like tickling them with your voice!

Spin the tube over your head and make helicopter sounds (kind of like “chicka-chicka-chicka” or whatever other sound you can come up with) and then give your child a turn!

Pretend Play

 It's a telescope and you're a pirate: "Land Ho!"
It's a microscope and you're a scientist: "I've discovered the tickle bug."
It's a stethoscope and you're a doctor: "Let's listen to your heart... bump, bump..."
It's a snake and, "It's Going to Bite You!"
Then Reverse the roles!

Other Activities

Take the tube into the tub and fill up a bucket with some water.  Dip the tube in and fill it with some water.  Hold both ends of the tube up so that it makes a "U" shape with the water at the bottom of the "U".  Put one end of the tube up to your mouth and blow hard so that the water shoots up and back into the tub.  Pretty Fun, right? Think of all the language you can prompt!
"on", "off", "water", "stop", "blow"..."under", "in", "pour"..."blow high", "be an elephant” "make a huge fountain." Get creative with it!

-David Koehler and Lindsey Lewis

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Things Parents of Kids with Special Needs Wish You Knew

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
- Steve Maraboli

Over the years, we have been lucky to meet so many families of children with special needs and become a part of their daily life. We have been there to experience great triumphs as well as to help overcome trials through ABA services and parent consultation. Through our interactions, we have heard parents discuss everything from behavior management and communication to sleep difficulties, food selectivity, potty training, and more. But there is something else that comes up frequently and consistently. Most parents focus on helping their child reach their potential at home and in school, but we often hear that the assumptions and perceptions of other people can be a source of great anxiety. At In S.T.E.P.P.S., we think it is important to increase public knowledge and raise awareness so that children with special needs and their families feel supported by their family, friends, neighbors, and community. Of course, every child and their abilities are different, but here are some things that we have heard directly from parents about what they wish YOU knew.

1. My child is not “misbehaving” because they are a “brat” or I am a “bad parent”

2. I notice when you stare or give dirty looks (and it doesn't feel good).

3. Meltdowns and tantrums are hard on me AND my child.

4. My child is unique and amazing! Get to know him/her.

5. I worry about how my child is treated when I am not around.

6. There are reasons for my child’s behavior(s).

7. Pity is not productive.

8. An understanding smile is a simple thing to do and it can make my day!

9. I try to focus on the positive by myself, but positive words from others means a lot. 

10. I need empathy and kind words, not judgment, from those around me.

11. I go to great lengths to keep my child safe at home and when we are out in public.  

12. Just because my child can’t talk doesn't mean they don’t hear what you are saying.

13. I have to parent differently than parents with typical kids.

14. If you want to know something about my child, just ask.

15. My child may learn differently than others, but he/she is not “broken.”

16. I want to talk about my kids and I want to hear about yours.

17. I am always anticipating what my child needs or wants.

18. My child may have a sensory processing issue that makes it hard for him/her to be still or quiet.

19. Simple things like going to the store can be a challenge (and sometimes I dread it).

20. If you have met one child with autism, you have met ONE child with autism. Every child is different, don’t compare.

21. Rude and insensitive comments don’t help and make me feel guilt/embarrassment that I shouldn't have to feel.

22. Try not to take things, like language, for granted. Some of us can only hope to hear our child say “mom/dad” or “I love you.”

23. I can’t always just “find a sitter.”

24. Don’t assume my child can’t do something just because he/she has special needs.

25. I live in fear that I will turn my back for one second and my child will wander off.

26. Interacting with my child may take a lot of work and patience, but please don’t let that stop you from trying. It is SO worth it! 

27. I don’t have all the answers, but ... 

28. I don’t need unsolicited advice.

29. My child needs the same things all kids need: love, acceptance, laughter, play, and fun!

30. I am “on” 24/7 and need to be ready for anything.

31. I am exhausted.

32. My child may not understand things like sarcasm or emotions.

33. It is important for my child to have friends and interact with other kids.

34. I need friends, too! Keep inviting me out for coffee or dinner or come over and just hang out with me.

35. I constantly worry about my child’s future and what will happen if something happens to me.

36. I am an advocate for my child in every setting of his/her life. This means I am live and breathing paperwork, calls, appointments, emails, therapies, and meetings.

37. Your children learn from modeling. Show them how to be tolerant, accepting, and compassionate by doing it yourself.

38. You can help my child reach his/her potential just by helping raise awareness.

39. My child has so many great qualities and abilities!

So, friends, what else would you add to this list?

-Lindsey Lewis

Connect With Us!

We have had our blog up and running for a while, but we wanted to take a minute to reintroduce ourselves and reach out to those that may have just come across our organization. 

Welcome to the In S.T.E.P.P.S. Blog! We are thrilled you found us! 

Click around to read a little bit more about us and get to know our team and what we do. We have many ideas in the works to make our blog more relevant to our followers so we hope you keep checking back for new posts. You can subscribe to our blog directly on this page. 

Other ways you can connect with us

Sign up for our Newsletter: Email info@instepps.com

Sign up for our Event List: Email LindseyL@instepps.com

We are always continuously coming up with new ideas and programs so follow us and join us on the journey as we "STEPP" ahead together!