5.3 Years: The Coolest Speech Therapist

Posted by Casey Roy on

You know how there are some people who you just click with? That's how it is for Belle and Monica Mitchell, TalkTools speech therapist. Belle adores her. Not only does Monica have the absolute coolest toys, she is also super patient and fun. Our two hours together this month flew by, and Belle was sad to leave. However, we left our meeting with a refreshed program and new approaches to tackle errors in Belle's 's' and 'th' sounds. This month's videos show a few highlights. ... (read more)
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5.2 Years: Complex Thoughts

Posted by Casey Roy on

Hello!
Belle is cruising along with dance classes and school this fall. I feel like her articulation is holding steady, but I do see an improvement in her complexity of thoughts. She will say things like, "It is already past my nap time, so me not have to take one today, right mommy?" or "Lyla, after you finish your toast and me finish my donut, will you play Barbies with me?" And when Belle gets in trouble for something, I will hear her in her room giving the same lecture to her baby dolls as the one she just received. :) ...
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5 & 5.1 Years: Getting Easier To Understand

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

5 Years

How in the world is this little gal 5 years old? Seriously. It has hit me pretty hard that I don't have any little ones at home anymore. We are on to the next stage in life.

As I look back on the past 5 years, I am grateful for how Belle has progressed and grown in many ways. However, I also have the full realization that we still have a lot of work to do. Sometimes all the stuff left on our "to do plate" feels overwhelming, and I question whether or not it will ever be completed. One day at a time, right? I guess we are all truly a work in progress.

On days when it seems like we are sitting idle, It helps me to think about how far we've come. Five years ago I spent my time thinking about if Belle would ever be able to communicate with me, and now I shush her multiple times a day because she won't stop talking (especially when her siblings are trying to talk). And when I came home in the middle of a pretty bad thunderstorm a few days ago, Belle greeted me at the door, saying "me woke up from my nap and me freakin' out mom!" This is progress 😊.

Happy 5th birthday to this little light of mine!

TalkTools | Annabelle 5 years TalkTools | Annabelle 5 years TalkTools | Annabelle 5 years TalkTools | Annabelle 5 years

5 Years 1 Month

There are some months that I sit down to write our monthly recap and think 'what in the world even happened this month?' This was one of those months.

As I look back through our calendar, I do see that we managed to have some fun. 😊 To kick off the month, Annabelle's Army (comprised of our awesome team of supporters) participated in Kansas City's Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk for the 5th time. We always have a great time at that event.

Belle was selected to be in a photo shoot for Target, so if that ever goes to print, we will post pics. The photo shoot was in Minneapolis so we drove 6.5 hours to be there. It was a memorable experience for sure.

We met with Monica Mitchell this month to update our TalkTools plan. She is such an amazing supporter and therapist and got us back on track with our oral motor program. 

We had parent/teacher conferences this month for Belle's PreK class. The teacher began the meeting by asking me what kind of expectations she should have for Belle, since she has Down syndrome. She has never had a child in her class with Down syndrome before, and Belle is the only child in the class with a "disability" (if you want to call it that). I responded to her question by saying that at this point, we intend for her to have the exact same expectations for Belle as she does for everyone other student in the class. Luckily, we were on the same page because her 1st quarter progress report was based on those exact standards. Belle is doing well. She scores the highest in the cognitive/academic area which includes ABCs, colors, numbers, shapes, etc. She needs the most work in the fine motor skills, especially with cutting. Belle's teacher said her speech is getting easier to understand, especially when she slows down. Of course, we will continue to work on this so she can develop relationships with peers and can continue to express what she knows.

TalkTools | Annabelle 5.1 years TalkTools | Annabelle 5.1 years TalkTools | Annabelle 5.1 years

More videos are available on TalkTools YouTube channel.

Happy Fall!

Much love, 

-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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4.10 & 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 →