Glenview clinic helps children connect and thrive
Therapist Therese McDermott-Winter works with Rohan Dhanani of Barrington at Pathways in Glenview on November 28, 2012. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 8:12AM
GLENVIEW — On typical days, the therapy rooms at Pathways Center in Glenview are places where spirited children jump, swing, climb stairs and talk.
The nonprofit clinic offers physical, speech and occupational therapy to infants and children — some with cerebral palsy and autism, for example — with motor, sensory and communication difficulties.
The physical activity, explained Linda Rooke, director of Therapy Services, helped clients overcome sensory problems, which are highly or not highly tuned.
“These children tend to be stationary so they stay in one place. We try to get them moving like on playground equipment,” said Rooke, a Northbrook resident.
She watched 5-year-old Max Azar gleefully glide through the air strapped in a frog swing, a few feet off the padded therapy floor.
He was encouraged to grab for objects while swinging and twirling around, all the while thoroughly enjoying the sensation of floating and free of gravity.
“The swing strengthens limbs and the kids get comfortable moving through space. They learn to time their reaches for things with throwing and catching skills,” Rooke said.
On improving social communication, Pathway therapists work with children on peers interaction, such as initiating greetings, introducing and maintaining conversations and using eye contact, among other strategies.
“A child may have trouble feeding themselves and chewing due to a motor problem. Speech therapy can handle this too,” Rooke said, who oversees 16 therapists.
Since 1985, Pathways has been in Glenview, moving to 2591 Compass Road in 2001. The outpatient clinic treats 250 clients a week.
Some specialized care programs include neuro-developmental treatment for young people with atypical central nervous systems, as well as special programs in sensory integration and adoptive technology.
“Parents call and tell us about their children. We try to determine what is preventing them from fully participating with friends and the community,” said Rooke, adding the integrative therapeutic approach at Pathways was essential.
“We also depend on a creative approach where goals are continually changing because a child is constantly developing and growing,” Rooke said.
“Some children have short-term needs in therapy and others are diagnosed with life-long concerns.”
She also said if clients were not showing progress, Pathways therapists continue working with parents and perhaps refers them to a specialist, such as a developmental pediatrician or neurologist.
Max’s mother, Karen, said she he receives three different therapies at Pathways — occupational physical and speech.
“His therapy is customized here and every minute is utilized. My son is trying to catch up with other kids and we only have a window to do it,” said Karen, of Wilmette.
“He’s very bright, but could have fallen through the cracks because of all the distractions around him. We’ve seen a lot of progress here.”
Alison Dhanani’s 2-year-old son, Rohan, was undergoing therapy for motor and speech delays and a sensory processing disorder.
Last week, he sat with a therapist eating cheddar fish crackers.
“It settles him down and he can focus on words like open, up and down when she gives him a cracker,” Dhanani, a Barrington resident.
“I wasn’t sure if he would ever walk or talk. He’s understanding our little world now. It’s very apparent.”
Sarah Kerndt, Pathways director of operations, emphasized the importance of early intervention.
“We’re very big on early detection and intervention with children showing problems. The sooner you identify them, the better results you get with therapy,” said Kerndt, of Glenview.
Pathways also offers a three-week camp for children with hemiplegia, in which one side of the body is paralyzed.