4.5 Years: "Near Perfect" Articulation

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Belle is doing well and has been enjoying some spring-like weather in February! She has managed to stay healthy this season (minus her chronic runny nose). Belle's good health has allowed her to go roller skating for the first time, participate in her preschool's Valentine's Day party, perform with her dance class on stage for 300+ people, and cheer on her older siblings at wrestling tournaments and basketball games.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.5 years

I haven't noticed any big changes in her speech or language abilities lately, but she seems to be continuing her progression. Belle likes to make up stories about who she is going to marry and how she needs to go to the doctor/dentist because she hurt her arm, has a loose tooth, etc. etc. While watching her older sister's basketball practice last week, she hollered, "Come on girls; find your man!" Completely out of the blue. I enjoy her creativity. There is never a dull moment with Miss Belle.

Here is a quick video of Belle working on very short two word phrases. We are shooting for "near perfect" articulation here 😊.


-Lanie Beetsma

Annabelle has Down Syndrome and has been using TalkTools Therapy since she was born. Her story is a great inspiration for parents seeking help for a child with Down Syndrome. Follow Miss Annabelle’s journey from the beginning here.

Read more →

4.4 Years: Making Up Her Own Silly Phrases

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Happy New Year! Belle's year is off to a solid start! I am happy to report that we have been pretty consistent with our TalkTools oral motor program, created by Monica Purdy. We have been staying on track except for the 4 days that Belle stayed with her siblings and grandparents while we got away for a little mini-vacation without kids. She did well, as I expected, and didn't miss me at all, as I also expected. She is always thrilled to go new places and do new things.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.4 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.4 years

Belle has always had a good sense of humor, and enjoys the typically preschool banter like "miss me, miss me, now you have to kiss me" and "you are the craziest woman in the world" (which she tells me often), etc. Her six year old brother also enjoys serving as a catalyst in her orneriness. Within the past few months, however, Belle has begun making up her own silly phrases and 'one-liners.' Last week, an older child who is a close family friend, was getting out of our car and Belle rolled down her window and said, "check you out turkey butt." I am not sure why I am sharing this, since to most parents this wouldn't be a newsworthy occurrence and probably even something to discourage. Of course, I am not encouraging naughty words, but man oh man I do love the creativity! And I do value the fact that she can come up with some non-concrete ideas on her own. It's the small things, right?

Here is a video of Belle doing many of her alphabet sounds.

Cheers!

-Lanie Beetsma

Annabelle has Down Syndrome and has been using TalkTools Therapy since she was born. Her story is a great inspiration for parents seeking help for a child with Down Syndrome. Follow Miss Annabelle’s journey from the beginning here.

Read more →

4 Years 2&3 Months: Communication grants Belle the independence she desires

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

4 Years 2 Months

Belle is doing well despite our crazy busy schedule and lack of consistency with her oral motor exercises.  She is not regressing in any way, but I can’t say that I have seen significant gains in her speech clarity this month.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?  Her congestion has returned in full force this month and she struggles to get any relief in this area.  I feel like we have tried everything over the years.  On a positive note, Belle is a rock star at blowing her nose so that does make it a lot easier on her (and me).

In other news, we had Belle’s first ever parent-teacher conferences last week and despite some drawing and painting in undesignated areas, she seems to be keeping up with her peers quite well. Her teacher said that she is very social and is an active participant in all activities. Music to my ears!

In the pics this month, Belle enjoyed Halloween as a nice witch, and is still loving dance class and can’t wait for Tuesday nights!

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.2 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.2 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.2 months

In this month’s video you will notice that Belle has now taken over my job of introducing her (no, I didn’t prompt her to do this) and is also convinced there are 3 Sundays in every week. Watch how well she chews and keeps the food on the side with her tongue!

4 Years 3 Months

December was a great month! I got my Christmas shopping done early and that allowed me some extra time to do more festive activities with my kiddos this month. Annabelle has had a great month as well. She adores Santa and asked for a Barbie Dream House for Christmas, she fully participated on stage in her preschool’s program, and she even got invited to her very first sleepover (with cousin’s who are around her age).

The sleepover struck me as significant for many reasons. First of all, Belle’s cousins love to play with her just like she loves to play with them. That makes my heart very happy. Secondly, Belle had absolutely no reservations in staying overnight in a new place with no immediate family members present. And lastly, she is able to go and do things she enjoys because she is able to communicate!! This is a gift like no other. Communication grants Belle the independence she desires, and I couldn’t be happier for her.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months

And here is Belle working on gum exercises:

Merry Christmas and cheers to a wonderful New Year!

-Lanie Beetsma

Annabelle has Down Syndrome and has been using TalkTools Therapy since she was born. Her story is a great inspiration for parents seeking help for a child with Down Syndrome. Follow Miss Annabelle’s journey from the beginning here.

Read more →

3 Years 8&9 Months: She is reading!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

3 Years 8 Months

Belle got her palatal expander out this month! Her "princess jewelry," as we referred to it, was in for a total of six months. Even though her speech didn't improve as substantially as I had hoped, it was still a success overall. Belle proudly states, "me got my princess jewelry out and me talk better."

As I mentioned last month, we have tried to take Belle back to some basics in regards to exercises so we can make 100% sure that we have the groundwork laid out correctly. At the single word level, there are many many words that Belle can say very clearly, just as a typical child would who does not have speech challenges. So, this is a big win! Belle still speaks mostly in phrases or short sentences, however, we are getting at least one sentence with 6-7-8 words in daily!

Since it is summer time, our schedule is completely out of whack. Now, all my kids are home, and I do not have any alone time with Belle. So... for the past few days, I have had Belle's 5 year old big brother join in the TalkTools fun. Both of the kids are enjoying the camaraderie of it all. (We will see how long this lasts ;)).

In the video this month, I thought I would show Belle reading some of the personalized books that I have made for her. She knows 100+ sight words so I have used some of these words in her books. There may be several words that you don't understand, but hopefully you will pick up on a few of them. Enjoy! 

Here are a few recent pictures including one of Belle at the dentist. She is the best patient ever, seriously.

3 years 8 months a 3 years 8 months b

3 Years 9 Months

Summer break is in full swing at our house! While we have been enjoying our more flexible schedule, our "routine" is completely out of whack. A lack of schedule can be a good and a bad thing. The best aspect of it all is that Belle's big brother, Burke (age 5), is home more and has been joining in the fun. He loves it!!! Belle and Burke do the oral exercises together and it has added a lot more enthusiasm (and orneriness) into "TalkTools time" at our house.

Although I am not witnessing huge gains in Belle's articulation when she goes into lengthy comments or requests, I am hearing improvements in some single words such as "dog, sock, dock, puppy, etc." I am confident that we are on the right path with TalkTools. Belle has so much to say and I want for her to be understood, so badly. A big shout out to Liz Smithson, our TalkTools speech therapist, who is so patient with us as we work through ups and downs in our "routine."

This video is of Belle working on an alphabet puzzle. I had asked her to tell me what the letter name was as well as the sound that it makes. It is a lengthy video but we had to finish the entire alphabet, of course! :D

And here are a few recent pics:

TalkTools | Annabelle 3.9 years TalkTools | Annabelle 3.9 years 3 years 9 months c

Have a great day!

-Lanie Beetsma

Annabelle has Down Syndrome and has been using TalkTools Therapy since she was born. Her story is a great inspiration for parents seeking help for a child with Down Syndrome. Follow Miss Annabelle’s journey from the beginning here.

Read more →

3 Years 6&7 Months: What "work" looks like

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

3 Years 6 Months

3 years 6 months a 3 years 6 months b 3 years 6 months c 3 years 6 months d

This month I decided to include videos of Belle doing her oral motor exercises. They are not super exciting videos, but that's what "work" looks like sometimes. I know we have to put in the time to see the results. And as I have said so many times previously, it's absolutely worth it! At times her progress with certain exercises may seem slow, but then I will refer back to old videos and can't believe how far she has come! For example, in the videos you will see her use the green tool (the Tongue Tip Lateralization Tool). It has a small metal ball that slides on a wire. When we first started using this, she was asked just to bite down and find the ball with the tip of her tongue. Our next progression was to bite down and move the ball from the front to the back. Now, she is working to move the ball from the front to the back and then stop it in the middle. I think it's pretty cool that she can do it! It takes some concentration for sure. You can also see her work with Bite Blocks.

Belle is continuing to express herself in all areas. She recently had her first dance recital where she got to perform "I'm a little teapot" with approximately 30 other preschoolers. We also just returned from a family vacation to the beach. Belle absolutely loves the beach.

3 Years 7 Months
3 years 7 months b

 

I have enjoyed witnessing Belle’s ornery personality take center stage this month. There has been numerous times where her quick wit has surprised me. “You have chocolate? Me love chocolate.” It’s not always this sweet though. She also has some goofy names to call people, with the worst being “you a bo bo face ghost.” When she calls you that, you know it’s bad J. Actually, she says it to be playful and then she wants you to chase her.

Her vocalizations have not slowed down in any way. She is full of things to say constantly, unless she gets in trouble and then, it’s pure silence until she comes around to say “sorry.”

In regards to our oral motor therapy program, we have started working with Liz Smithson at TalkTools. We are excited for this partnership and look forward to many great things ahead. We have made a few modifications to our exercises and are going to work on perfecting some of Belle’s basic sounds. Since our ultimate goal is clear speech, we have to make sure the basic fundamentals are in place before we can go on to the more challenging sounds. Even though it’s not always fun to take a step back or sideways, I do know it’s for the best. Annabelle’s speech has gotten away from her in a way. She talks quickly and goes on and on and on. So, we need to slow her down and take a good look at the building blocks of it all.

In the video this month, I have included Belle working on some speech worksheets. You may understand some or most of what she is saying in the video but now we are breaking it down to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle are in place… the lips, the jaw, the posture, the tongue, etc.

In other news, Belle gets her palatal expander out next month! Hopefully this will mean less slobber and better articulation!!!

 

-Lanie Beetsma

Annabelle has Down Syndrome and has been using TalkTools Therapy since she was born. Her story is a great inspiration for parents seeking help for a child with Down Syndrome. Follow Miss Annabelle’s journey from the beginning here.

Read more →