Stepping Stones Developmental Assessment Program - Milwaukee, WI - Ascension Wisconsin

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Stepping Stones Developmental Assessment Program 

The Wheaton Franciscan – St. Joseph Campus Stepping Stones Developmental Assessment Program works with infants and toddlers to help them develop in ways to reach their full potential. These children have entered the world with some physiological and medical challenges, and our goal is to overcome those challenges.

The babies we see usually need intensive care after birth. Babies who are born too soon or spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) may be at risk for developmental delays. Sometimes babies who did not have difficulty at birth may be referred to us because the doctor or parent has concerns about the baby’s development.

How the Program Works

Our team of pediatric therapists and other specialists provide an initial assessment to identify your baby’s current level of development and recommend next steps. If we find that special attention is needed, we suggest home-based activities for your infant and also suggest referrals for ongoing therapy.

We also provide a report to your child’s primary doctor. Our evaluation and recommendations do not take the place of regular visits to your child’s doctor. Rather, the Stepping Stones Program is another type of care that your child receives.

Program Schedule

The Stepping Stones Program has a staggered but regularly scheduled approach to how we work with your child:

  • The first visit is usually at six months “adjusted” age. (We count from the baby’s due date, not actual birth date.) If your baby was born at 28 weeks or younger and/or had a low birth weight, he or she may be seen at three months adjusted age with a follow-up at six months. 
  • Our physical therapists will see your child at six-month and 18-month visits.
  • Our occupational therapist and speech/feeding specialist will see your child at 18-month and 30-month visits.

The Stepping Stones Team

Many people make up the Stepping Stones team that works with your child. It includes:

  • Parents – We need your participation every step of the way. You provide input, support the evaluation process and carry out next steps. 
  • Physician – A board certified pediatrician or neonatologist provides information to your baby’s primary care doctor. 
  • Nurse – A pediatric nurse reviews and updates health and social history. 
  • Pediatric Physical Therapist – This team member tests your child’s motor development, muscle tone, flexibility and the overall impact on your child’s development. 
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapist – This clinician tests your child's fine motor and thinking skills using standardized tests and observation. 
  • Pediatric Speech/Feeding Specialist – This specialist reviews your child’s language skills, including what he or she understands and what your child says. If your child has feeding issues, these will also be evaluated.

In addition, the team may also include a nutritionist and social worker.

Insurance Coverage

Your health insurance will be billed for the Stepping Stones Program. If you are in an HMO, we will need a referral from your child’s primary doctor. We suggest you contact your insurance provider to determine whether this is a covered service for your child. If you have any questions about this, please call 414-447-2467.

Make an Appointment

To participate in the program:

  • You may schedule an appointment yourself.
  • Your doctor may make a referral if he or she has concerns about your child’s development. 
  • Your neonatologist may suggest that your child undergo a Stepping Stones evaluation if your child was in the St. Joseph NICU.

For more information, please contact the Stepping Stones Program at 414-447-2467.

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