Ambassador Update: Jordan

For the Rodiguez family, Jordan’s behavior challenges can be a daily struggle, but with the help of Occupational Therapy at Easterseals, Jordan continues to make great progress! Most notably, he has used his skills to improve his relationships with his teachers & friends.

He is currently working on following directions in general & self-regulation in the morning to get ready for school. Ms. Erin, Jordan’s Occupational therapist, starts the session by talking to Jordan and agreeing on the activities. She gives him choices during the session so he feels motivated & excited to participate. By meeting Jordan where he is at emotionally for the day, Erin makes the session fun, enjoyable, and something he works forward to!

Telehealth has been a great option for their busy family, while still providing quality therapy. He is able to thrive and work on independence, with support and supervision from his mom. 

“Easterseals, in my experience, is a top-notch professional service for all sorts of needs. They are diagnostic at the start. Individualized action plans are well thought out & shared buy-in is obtained from the family. Therapists work toward specific goals & are specialists in what they do. Therapists are committed to a child’s success & are willing to be on a larger team with school & medical professionals to problem solve. In general, I can’t imagine any better service provided to Jordan in meeting his unique needs.”

Kathy, Jordan’s Mom

Kathy shared what she wants the world to know about her amazing son;“ I want the world to know the REAL Jordan.  The one that can make a room of people laugh through his storytelling. The one that would do anything to help or care for someone he cares about. The one who has overcome the trauma of his toddlerhood, the loss & grief of life as he knew it to enter a new world & family without any say in the matter & functions better than most, given his circumstances. The one who loves to be loved & is capable of reciprocating.”

Easterseals Ambassador Helps prepare new Bloomington Therapy Spaces

Easterseals Ambassador, Reece, grabbed a paintbrush and got to work. He left his mark on the wall, much like he has left his mark on Easterseals over the past few years.

Reece’s mom brought him to check up on the construction of the new Bloomington-Normal YMCA that will be the new home of Easteresals Central Illinois in Bloomington! the construction site. The new site is expected to open in Summer 2022. Check out the WMBD news story below!

Does your baby always look to the same side? Torticollis and when to ask for help.

By Joanna Stuck, PT, CIMI  Easterseals Central Illinois

A concern that many parents of new babies share is that their baby seems to have a preference for the position of their head. This preference may be torticollis (tor-ti-col-lis). The word comes from two Latin root words, “tortus” and “collum,” that together mean “twisted neck.” This condition is relatively common in babies and often can be noted very soon after birth. There are several different reasons this may occur and so it is important to determine why this is happening so that it can be quickly understood and getting help to resolve it can begin. The earlier it is noticed and intervention begins, the faster it can be resolved! This is great news!

Here are things you might notice and want to bring to your pediatrician’s attention:

  • Your baby’s head tilts or rotates to one side
  • Limited range of motion in head and neck
  • Asymmetry in your baby’s head and face (flattening on one side of the head)
  • Breastfed babies may prefer one side over the other
  • A small, soft lump in your infant’s neck
  • The most commonly noticed symptom is a flat spot appearing behind one ear and on the side the baby likes to look toward

There are very effective solutions to these concerns and they include tummy time, positioning strategies, and often physical therapy. Physical therapy will include measuring how much your baby is turning their head, tracking head shape, designing a plan for improving motion, and supporting you by answering questions and being a partner in the care of your baby.

When strategies to correct the side preference begin by 2-4 months of age, resolution of concerns generally occurs quite quickly. Very few children require surgery to correct this condition and this is generally not considered until other attempts have been made to resolve the concerns.

Your physical therapist can offer fantastic support to you in providing what your baby needs to grow and develop and will help you know if further help, such as for head shape, is needed. We love to partner with families and support them in the growth and development of their children! If you and your pediatrician determine it is time to get the support of a physical therapist for your baby’s development, then please come and see us at Easterseals Central Illinois at (309)686-1177


Clinical Application of the Congenital Muscular Torticollis Clinical Practice Guideline by Micah Huegel PT, DPT,, ContinuED course date 11.9.2018

Participants from 47 area schools participate in The Autism Collective’s  ECHO Autism in the Classroom

Using the ECHO model, this innovative program is the first of its kind in the nation

The Autism Collective launched ECHO Autism in the Classroom on Friday, January 28th, 2022. This program aims to connect education professionals with experts on autism spectrum disorder. Participants will attend four sessions covering the basics of autism, behavior management, classroom-based supports, and supporting children through life and educational transitions. There are 50 participants from 47 schools, 38 school districts, and 18 counties across Illinois.

The Autism Collective is the first organization to host an ECHO Autism in the Classroom program. The program takes the ECHO Autism model, designed for physicians, and applies it to educators. According to the CDC, 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a spectrum disorder, autism provides unique strengths and challenges to every person affected. 

ECHO Autism in the Classroom aims to empower educators with essential knowledge and connect them with experts.

“After two successful ECHO Autism sessions with Primary Care Physicians, we saw how this program could also be a lifeline to educators in our communities. By utilizing the ‘all-teach-all-learn’ education model, ECHO Autism in the Classroom focuses on interactive case discussions. We are excited to see how this program empowers participants and creates a supportive network across Central Illinois”

Holly Swearingian, Manager of Clinical Operations for The Autism Collective and the Hub Team Director

Project ECHO was started in New Mexico by a physician who saw far too many patients traveling extensive distances to find expert care. Project ECHO spreads knowledge from centralized locations into every community. ECHO Autism is a branch of Project ECHO that focuses specifically on spreading knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

To learn more about ECHO Autism in the Classroom, The Autism Collective, or resources available in our community for persons with autism, visit

Easterseals Community Rally Returns to Central Illinois April 16th – 23rd 2022!

For the second year in a row, Easterseals is inviting all of Central Illinois to participate in the Easterseals Community Rally, April 16th – 23rd. This week-long celebration is a chance for community members to rally in support of Easterseals Mission; to ensure that children with developmental delays, disabilities, and other special needs can reach their full potential

“The last two years have presented challenges for all of us, but for families of children with disabilities and special needs, those challenges have been even more complex and daunting,” said Katie Musisi, Vice President of Development for Easterseals Central Illinois. “The Easterseals Community Rally is an opportunity to celebrate those families and the progress made, and we want the whole of Central Illinois to join us in that celebration and ensure that families can continue to feel that support year-round through Easterseals services.”

The Easterseals Community Rally is made possible by CEFCU. Special thanks to our honorary co-chairs Illinois State University President Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy, and Bradley University President Dr. Stephen Standifird.

There are many ways to rally for Easterseals:

  • Register for Run, Walk & Rally! A family-friendly 5K run /1 mile walk that celebrates participants of all abilities! Join us for a post-race party with prizes and games. Wheel chairs and strollers are welcomed and encouraged.
  • Tune in to the week-long telethon! WMBD and Easterseals are teaming up to raise money to support therapy services for the children and families of Easterseals! Tune in to WMBD/WYZZ newscasts Monday, April 18th – Friday. April 22nd from 4-6 pm during Community Rally week to make your donation.
  • Rally Your Own Way! Your support helps ensure that every child Easterseals serves can reach their full potential. Last year, Easterseals Central Illinois served over 5,000 families and provided 36,792 hours of pediatric therapy services.
    • Host a Fundraiser:  Create a fundraising page, host a small gathering or workplace challenge. There are so many ways to raise money for Easterseals and celebrate our message of inclusion and empowerment.
    • Make a Donation: Find a list of upcoming fundraising events or make a direct donation now at

Learn More: Interested in learning more about Easterseals Central Illinois? Consider hosting an Easterseals 101 presentation for your workplace or community group to learn about our services and opportunities to get connected.

Learn more at

Zoey is doing the unthinkable

Zoey’s mom describes her as a fighter.

After receiving her diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) just over a year ago, Zoey began working with Easterseals therapists Shannon and Meghan. Zoey is now in therapy twice a week at Easterseals and is making great progress. In September, Zoey achieved a huge milestone – she took her first independent steps!

“On paper, she should never ever walk. But this little girl is a fighter. She may be tiny, but she is fierce. She is special,” says Zoey’s mom, Ali.

Zoey and her mom Ali were recently featured on WMBD news! Check it out below:

We are so proud of you Zoey! Learn more about Early Intervention Services in Central Illinois at

Learn more about services at Easterseals Central Illinois at

iCan Bike Volunteers Needed!

Confidence grows on two wheels!

We are seeking volunteers for our annual iCan Bike program in East Peoria! iCan Bike teaches children with disabilities how to ride a two-wheel bike. This is a great volunteer opportunity for student-athletes, community groups, church groups, workplace teams, or anyone looking to make a big impact in child’s life while getting some exercise.

Spotters are needed to walk/jog/run alongside riders to provide encouragement and physical support as they learn to ride.

Volunteer Requirementsminimum of 10 volunteers needed per session = 50 in total

  • Need to be at least 15 years old and able to walk/jog/run alongside riders to provide encouragement and physical support as needed.
    • Volunteers will move about 3 miles per session
  • Click link for more information and volunteer registration –

Ameren Illinois is empowering families through their support of The Autism Collective’s family navigation services.

When faced with the diagnosis, or potential diagnosis, of Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be overwhelming for families. In 2019 Easterseals Central Illinois and OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois came together to launch The Autism Collective, which helps end the isolation felt by those living with Autism. Thanks to a $30,000 grant from Ameren Illinois, families will be able to take advantage of The Autism Collective’s Family Navigation services at no charge.

This unique program helps families and caregivers with a way to connect to services, like education, treatment, medical and community-based services for children with Autism. Since its inception in 2019, The Autism Collective has served more than 800 families across 47 counties in Illinois.

“Ameren’s continued support of The Autism Collective shows their dedication to supporting families in Central Illinois. This grant makes it possible for families to access this service free of charge. Our community is full of amazing resources for children and adults with Autism. The Autism Collective is vital in helping families navigate the complex web of services”.

Steve Thompson, President and CEO of Easterseals Central Illinois

The Autism Collective is housed in the Easterseals building, alongside the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic and other Autism services. Learn more about The Autism Collective at

Thank You for Making Progress Possible in 2021

As we close out 2021, we want to take a moment to say thank you.

Thank you to our staff. Thank you for remaining resilient and committed to the mission of Easterseals throughout the ups and downs of 2021. Thank you for always finding a way to serve our families.

Thank you to our families. Thank you for trusting us to help your child and your family throughout the past year. Thank you for all the unseen work; the at-home exercises, driving to appointments, connecting to telehealth appointments, and being our stand-in when we were not able to connect in person.

Thank you to the kids we serve. Thank you for your hard work.

Thank you to our board members. Thank you for providing vital leadership during this crazy time.

Thank you to our donors. Every dollar you give makes it possible for us to continue services through whatever each year brings.

Thank you to our corporate partners and grant funders. Years of partnership provide a solid foundation for us to plan for the future. Your continued support through 2021 has empowered us to

Thank you to our volunteers, especially our event committees who have remained committed to the goal of raising funds during a pandemic. Countless hours of planning and research go into each event, and we are forever grateful.

Thank you to our community as we continue to strive towards 100% inclusion and 100% Empowered.

Thank you.

2021 Holiday Shopping Guide & Wish List

Each year we are asked to share some of our therapists’ favorite toys for holiday gifts. We are so excited to be teaming up with our friends at Gingerbread House Toys in Bloomington to bring you our annual shopping guide! These toys were hand-selected by our therapists to help children of all ages with their development. These are also all part of our therapists’ wish list, so if you are purchasing for a child you know, consider supporting our pediatric therapy program with some of these great resources as well!

Click here to shop our Wishlist

Suggestions From Speech Language Pathologists

Suggestions From Our Counselors

Toys and games that help children express their emotions, practice mindfulness, and encourage turn-taking and critical thinking skills are great for every age!

Suggestions From Our Applied Behavior Analysis Team

Suggestions from Timber Pointe Outdoor Center

Sensory products/solutions are vital to creating a calm space for campers, or children in general. Many of these are portable and easy to pack in a backpack or purse to help those who are overstimulated wherever they are. They are also a great tool to help children and campers who are seeking stimulation and need an outlet to do it in an appropriate way for the setting.