5.7 Years: Our Current TalkTools Program

Posted by Casey Roy on

We recently met with Monica Mitchell, our TalkTools speech therapist, to review and update our oral motor exercises plan. I know I have mentioned it in the past, but there are some people that you just click with in life and Monica is one of those people for Annabelle. When we are working with Monica, Annabelle holds nothing back. I am seriously amazed at some of the orneriness she comes up with. At one point, Monica asked Annabelle to try some something new, and Annabelle responded with a goofy face and said, "Sure Monica, what the heck?!"

"What does your TalkTools program look like?"

One of the questions I get asked frequently from parents is "What does your TalkTools program look like?" So, this month I thought I would give an overview of the exercises Annabelle is currently working on. Please keep in mind that this program is tailored to her needs, strengths, and weaknesses at this time. It is a moving target, basically. And no other child or adult would have this exact same program. From start to finish, depending on Annabelle's resistance or pure goofiness, the exercises take us around 20 minutes to complete. Also, remember that I am a 'mom,' not a speech therapist so I am sure Monica would describe these items in a different and more eloquent way.

  1. We typically start with a slow feed of a pretzel or Veggie Straw, etc. (Eating a snack always gets us off to a good start.) She chews the pretzel on one side and then keeps it there until she is ready to swallow. We go back and forth practicing her coordination on each side.
  2. We have worked on Chewy Tubes since for years (seriously), and now we work on the purple and green ones. This is to develop jaw strength.
  3. Bite Blocks: Annabelle worked through all 6 steps of Bite Block Hierarchy over years and is officially done with these!!!
  4. Bubble gum: 1.5 pieces of Double Bubble. Annabelle's goal is to keep it on one side for 20 chews and then move it to the other for 20. Five sets on each side. This is hard work.
  5. Horn (I think it's #7?). She does 2-3 second duration 10 times.
  6. Single sips on the straw with the smiley face (Straw #6).
  7. Spoon slurps with applesauce (or preferably pudding type consistency). Annabelle 'kisses' the end of the food off of the spoon and/or slurps it up.
  8. Various verbal exercises to work on proper tongue placement for T, D, N, and L sounds.

We don't always get to each of these exercises each time we work on the program, and sometimes I add in some older things that I know Annabelle enjoys (bubbles, words from old worksheets), etc. We typically work through our program 1-2 times per week at home.

Practicing straw-drinking at home

Cheers to warmer weather and getting these crazy kids outside to play! :)

More videos are available on TalkTools YouTube channel.

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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5 years old Annabelle down syndrome Monica Mitchell oral motor oral placement therapy speech program speech therapy talktools program

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