Today, we are so excited to share our interview with Laura Cremonesi MS, OTR/L, founder of Le Petite Foxes!
Le Petite Foxes is located in the South Loop, and offers pediatric therapy for all ages to promote independence, build confidence, strengthen social skills, and inspire adventures. Read on to learn more about Laura’s journey into pediatric therapy, the amazing services offered at Le Petite Foxes, and some really fun ideas for indoor & outdoor play!
Hi Laura! Thanks so much for speaking with us today! Can you tell us about yourself, and how you decided to venture into Occupational Therapy?
Thank you for having me! I love living in Chicago and have been based in the South Loop for over 10 years. I recently got married and enjoy cooking, cycling, trying new restaurants, and cannot wait for live music to return. In the summers, I like to take my dog for long walks on the lakefront trail.
My journey in healthcare began with my high school job as a Certified Nursing Assistant, which I continued through college while earning my degree in Psychology from Loyola University. After graduating, I worked as both a Crisis Worker and Mental Health Counselor at Chicago community hospitals. During this time, I was able to observe Occupational Therapists helping patients with individualized treatments tailored to their interests, and motivated me to pursue a degree and career as an Occupational Therapist.
While in graduate school I wanted to specialize in Occupational Therapy for acute care and hand therapy; and was able to complete these clinical rotations at the University of Chicago Hospital. My third rotation allowed me the opportunity to explore pediatric/school-based OT at the Hyde Park Day School. This experience reoriented my career because of the success I saw kids achieve with the assistance of tailored treatment plans and the thoughtful work of the entire educational team. Knowing the impact my role played in enabling kids to build exponentially upon their success and confidence as students, increase their self-advocacy skills, and become proud of their learning differences further solidified my passion for working in pediatrics.
How did you decide to start your own business?
I have worn many hats over the last few years as an OT at Hyde Park Day School and at either University of Illinois – Chicago Hospital or the University of Chicago Hospital in the summers. These roles have provided me the opportunity to expand my clinical training, work in pediatrics, and engage with the community. I founded Le Petite Foxes to bring together the best of my experiences and training to meet the demand for a family-centered occupational therapy practice. Last winter I began with home and virtual OT sessions. In July 2020, Le Petite Foxes opened a pediatric sensory gym in the South Loop.
What kinds of services do you offer at Le Petite Foxes?
Le Petite Foxes focuses on providing support both individually or in small social/sibling groups for ages between infancy all the way up to 21. Peer and sibling groups are tailored to target specific developmental and social goals. Goal areas may include social, regulation, language, play, and motor needs. I provide evaluations and treatment plans that are tailored to each child and family’s individual needs. Partnering with parents, outside providers, teachers, and other caregivers is an integral part of each session that enables the achievement of the best outcomes when the techniques and tools we work on are utilized outside the clinic. Frequent areas of treatment include fine motor skills, gross motor skills, feeding therapy, self-care, sleep therapy, sensory processing, self-regulation, executive functioning, assistive technology, social skills, handwriting, keyboarding, and bicycle training. Additionally, Le Petite Foxes maintains referral relationships with a variety of providers. Common referrals include speech and language therapists, physical therapists, pediatric dentists, lactation consultants, pediatric chiropractors, and tutors.
Tell us more about your space – the pictures look like so much fun, I want to come play!
Most importantly Le Petite Foxes’ sensory gym is a safe space for children to play and grow at their own pace. I designed the space to provide children with various opportunities to explore sensory input while working on gross motor skills, strength, sensory integration, and self-regulation. Children and parents will find a variety of sensory equipment including swings, trampolines, therapy balls, brightly colored climbing rocks, scooter boards, tunnels, climbing walls. Sensory gyms help children feel more confident, foster independence, provide health and fitness benefits, increase social skills and self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve self-regulation.
Providing therapy in an environment meeting the needs of the child and their family is the most important part of therapy, which is why Le Petite Foxes also provides home, school, and virtual occupational therapy sessions.
Let’s talk about this crazy winter! Most parents are going a little crazy at this point trying to think of ways to keep their children occupied indoors. Could you share some ideas for indoor play & sensory activities?
This is a good question and has very much been a topic of discussion with the families I am working with now. I recommend sensory activities to keep kids active and engage their imaginations. A favorite activity, which can utilize items around the house, is to build obstacle courses. This type of activity can include animal walks like a frog jump or crab walk, Twister-like steps with traced outlines of kids’ hands or feet, freeze dance, or bubble wrap pathways. Baking and cooking are great for kids and provide opportunities for family time. Fantastic outlets for pent-up creativity including drawing with shaving cream, which can be a bit messy, assembling pony bead crafts, and building STEM racetracks out of reusable materials or Amazon boxes.
How about outdoor play? Do you have any fun ways to get the kids outside in the city both when it’s snowy & cold, and also in the spring & summer?
Absolutely, Chicago in the spring and summer offer tons of opportunities to get kids moving outside. On cooler, early spring days I recommend exploring the local park or community garden, making terrariums or planting herb gardens, and even exploring attractions such as the Zoo or Botanical Garden. When it gets warmer, our favorite childhood activities of water balloon games, outdoor chalk obstacles, kite flying, bicycle rides on the lakefront path, backyard camping, and visiting the beach are great outdoor activities. My favorite activity in the summer requires a popsicle tray set, corn starch, water, and washable paint to make frozen popsicle chalk.