Danielle Lemon

Thirteen years ago, Danielle Lemon served as a therapist, working under Nancy Ruggles. Now, the two are planning to open their own therapy and mental health services clinic together in January 2019, which they name as the first of its kind in Forest Park. Power of Play (POP) Pediatric Therapy Services, 7421 W. Madison St., will offer occupational, physical and speech therapy, as well as mental health services, for children and families in the community. 

“There’s a big need for this type of therapy in the community; we will be the only occupational therapy clinic in Forest Park” said Lemon, adding that the other clinics within a three to 10 mile radius of the village have waiting lists. 

Pediatric occupational therapy is focused on helping children grow into independent adults by developing their fine, sensory and visual motor skills. The therapy addresses physical impairments and injuries that prevent a child from fully progressing through the stages of cognitive and social development. Children with certain medical conditions, including ADHD, cerebral palsy, and autism, and sensory processing disorders can benefit from the therapy. 

“Most of the kids we see have sensory processing challenges, and a lot of families come to us if their child is struggling or if their school has recommended it,” said Ruggles.

While POP will primarily offer occupational therapy services, the clinic will also offer speech therapists and mental health professionals.

“Mental health and social and emotional support for families is not always thought about in the most appropriate manner,” Lemon said. But “mental health services can support families dealing with the diagnosis of their child, help with daily routines and setting the child up to be successful, and help the child and parents connect,” she said. 

Lemon and Ruggles both have advanced training in the Developmental, Individual-differences, Relationship-based model, which is a child and family-based approach to therapy focused on relationships and play rather than behavior, which helps create a dynamic support system. That way, when parents do challenge their child to meet their goals, they have relationships to support the challenge. 

Both therapists serve a wide variety of patients, with ages ranging from infancy to 21 years old. 

“Our goal is to offer families a variety of options,” said Ruggles. “As kids grow their needs might change.”

While many sessions are individual, with either the child, parent and therapist or child and therapist, POP will also offer social groups, which allows young people the opportunity to develop friendships and build skills related to peer interactions among people in their age group. 

Lemon has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist for 13 years in a variety of settings, from schools, to state-funded early intervention programs, to clinics and homes. Prior to POP, she owned her own practice in Oak Park.

Ruggles, who has been practicing for 17 years, also owned her own practice prior to POP, where she focused on early intervention and worked with patients in their homes. POP will offer both in-clinic and in-home services, depending upon the need of the child. 

New clients can expect a thorough intake process, which begins by providing an intake over the phone and an in-office evaluation with the child. Evaluations include standardized testing; informal observation of how they move, explore and problem solve; and a conversation with the parents about how the child functions at home and in the community. Following the evaluation, the therapist will develop a treatment plan. 

Above all, the team at POP is focused on developing a clear, collaborative relationship with parents, starting with the evaluation. 

“We are both big on serving the community that we live in. We want to build a bridge between our clinic and the community,” Lemon said.