4.10 & 4.11 Years: Helping other Down Syndrome parents

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

4 Years 10 Months

Greetings from Lanie and Belle!

Belle has thoroughly enjoyed her summer with trips to her grandma's house, county fairs, baseball games, two big new cities, and a vacation in the mountains. While her routine has been anything but routine, her mind has certainly been busy with some new experiences to chat about. 

While talking with a fellow mom who had a few questions about TalkTools, I put Belle on the phone for a quick hello at the end of our call. I told Belle to tell our new friend what she was doing today and she said, "watching the Royals and I am going to marry Eric Hosmer." Hosmer is one of Belle's favorite players on the KC Royals team, and her statement reinforces the fact that she has watched slightly too much baseball this summer!!!

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.10 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.10 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.10 years

Here is a quick video we did on lip isolation using a tongue depressor:

4 Years 11 Months

Belle is back to school! She is attending a new preschool this year and is in the Pre-K program. She will start kindergarten in one year, the fall of 2018 (this is hard to believe.) Belle is in a class with 14 other students, all typical kiddos, and two teachers. So far, she is loving it! She loves attending the same school as her older siblings and enjoys snack time and the monkey bars at recess. ;)

Here is a video update showing how Belle is doing in eating and drinking (she uses straw #6 from TalkTools straw hierarchy).

About once a week, I have the privilege of hearing from a parent who has watched Belle's videos and has questions about TalkTools, Belle's development, etc. I truly enjoy helping as much as I can and sharing our experience. I remember when Belle was born, I really found a great deal of comfort in talking with and learning from parents who were just a little ahead of us in this journey. It helped me to know that I was not alone and that success stories are absolutely achievable.

I am sharing this because people ask me quite frequently about what I do to support Belle's speech and overall development. And as most of you know there are SO many programs, vitamins, protocols, therapies, educational curriculums, physical practices, etc. to choose from. It was actually quite overwhelming for me, especially when Belle was a baby, but I have tried many of them over the years. When parents ask me what I think has made the biggest difference for Belle, I say "her siblings, an active lifestyle with lots of input, and TalkTools."

I believe that Belle's siblings are her greatest teachers. Our life is full of activities, sporting events, family gatherings, school, etc., and I believe that this provides lots of fresh input for her brain. And lastly, I believe that TalkTools has allowed Belle to develop her oral motor coordination so she can communicate with others. And for that, I am forever grateful.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.11 Years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.11 Years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.11 Years

-Lanie Beetsma

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

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4.9 Years: Full Summer Mode!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

We are in full summer mode here! Belle has been enjoying some horseback riding lessons, swimming, cheering on her siblings at baseball games, and finishing up a great dancing year with a big dance recital. The recital took up a substantial part of the beginning of our summer, so that's where all our pictures came from this month.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.9 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.9 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.9 years

Belle is continuing to grow her vocabulary daily. I love hearing her use intangible words like "exhausted, probably, beautiful, tomorrow, etc." In regards to her oral motor exercises, I am most impressed by her progress with Horn #6 this month. Her duration and breath/volume behind it is great! Monica moved us up to horn #6 last month because it coincides with the tongue retraction we are striving for in this part of Belle's speech development.

I love how TalkTools has developed so many tools and exercises that meet the needs of where people are in their journey. When Belle has a new speech challenge that arises (that really stresses me out), Monica Mitchell remains calm, cool, and collected. She has seen it all! And there is no issue that is too big in her eyes. I love that reassurance.

-Lanie Beetsma

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

Read more →

4.8 Years: Working on Tongue Placement

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Here is Belle working on her spoon slurp exercises:

And here working on proper tongue placement for sounds /t, d, n, l/ with the help of bite blocks.

Belle had a fabulous time at our in-depth session with Monica Mitchell, our TalkTools speech therapist, this month. We worked through our entire oral motor program and assessed Belle's progress as well as her needs at this time. Belle is doing well in many articulation areas but does not have consistent tongue retraction that allows for proper /s, t, d, and n/ sounds. We are working with these sounds in isolation as well as at the single word level.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.8 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.8 years

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.8 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.8 years

Belle continues to verbally communicate non-stop. She is even becoming impatient when she feels she is not getting to talk as much as someone else. "Excuse me, stop talking. It's my turn to talk," is a request I hear from her on a daily basis. Belle finished up her first year of preschool this year and will begin Pre-K in the fall. Cheers to a great summer! Belle is looking forward to horseback riding lessons, swimming, and playing outside. 

-Lanie Beetsma

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

Read more →

4.7 Years: More Intelligible That I Thought

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Hello!

Belle has been a little under the weather this month, and I have been a little concerned that her level of articulation has declined a bit as we have opted out of oral motor exercises so she can catch an afternoon nap or doctor's appointment, etc. Overall, I think she is starting to feel better as this month wraps up so we are starting to get back on track.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.7 Years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.7 Years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.7 Years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.7 Years

One highlight from the month includes Belle's participation in our school district's preschool screening. I was worried that the test administrators would have a hard time understanding Belle so I asked to sit in on the language portion of the assessment, just in case I needed to translate something for them. I said very little but did get to enjoy Belle's funny responses to the questions like "what do you do if you walk in a dark room?" She responded... "scary! run away!" Although it wasn't quite the answer they were looking for, it was quite humorous. As she finished up this portion of the test and we headed out the room, the test administrator said to me, "see mom, you didn't need to be in here. I understood every word she said." I take that as a win. 

In this month's video, Belle is reading to you from her "Bibs" book. I hope you enjoy!

-Lanie Beetsma

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

Read more →

4.6 Years: Enjoying New Foods

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

March has been an exciting month for Belle! We traveled to the beach to visit family and enjoyed some fun in the sun. She enjoys the plane rides and new restaurants and new foods like calamari and key lime pie.

 TalkTools | Annabelle 4.6 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.6 years TalkTools | Annabelle 4.6 years

In our video this month, Belle shows off her gum chewing skills. She has improved in her coordination with this exercise substantially over the years. Gum is pretty fun and the "big kids do it" so Belle is typically very eager for this portion of our oral motor program.

Monica Mitchell, our TalkTools speech therapist, is also beginning to have Belle work on some words that start with blended sounds like "bl" and "br." It's fun to start a new challenge!

Happy Spring to all!

-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 →