Tagged "Annabelle"

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. READ MORE

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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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4.5 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.


-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 & 3 Years 1 Month: Happy Birthday, Little Fire Cracker!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

3 Years

She is 3! Happy birthday to this little fire cracker.

3 years b 3 years a 3 years c 3 years d

Belle has MANY nicknames around our house including Beezy, Boppy, B-Belle, Belldozer, and Bops. She is very used to her nicknames and answers to all of them graciously . The nickname that I have been calling her lately, however, is Chatty Cathy. Three years ago I would have never believed that I would be calling her this. I did not believe that "chatty" would be ever be on my list of words to describe her. I will add a disclaimer to this by stating that she is not easily understood, especially if she breaks into long drawn out stories which can be minutes in length. If I have an idea of the subject matter, I can kind of follow along, but if not, I am lost. I remind her to slow down quite often as well as ask her a question about what she is talking about so I can try to catch on.

Although Belle's longer stories are harder to understand, many of her single words are improving in articulation. During our last session with Whitney from TalkTools, Belle was resistant to working on a particular speech app. Whitney suggested moving her into the next difficulty level and that has helped tremendously. It is more interesting to her and she is doing much better. In addition, Belle has improved dramatically with her current horn level. See for yourself:

I do want to add that Belle had a dental appliance called a "quad helix" attached less than a week ago. It is attached to her molars and we go back to the dentist's office every four weeks for adjustment. The goal of the appliance is to widen her upper jaw to eliminate her under bite. She has done really well with it, and it hasn't slowed down her speech in any way.

Cheers to a fabulous three years! I can't wait to see what is in store for this little gal!

3 Years 1 Month

Attached are some recent pictures including Belle playing with some neighbor cats, finishing up her first ever dance class, and having fun with Whitney Pimentel, our TalkTools guru

TalkTools | Annabelle 3 Years 3 years 1 month b 3 years 1 month c

Our month started out on a great note as we were able to meet Whitney Pimentel, our TalkTools Speech-Language Pathologist, for a full evaluation. Whitney allowed us lots of time to cover all the areas of Belle's oral motor abilities, concerns, and areas where improvement is needed. Belle had a fun time too! We were able to update her complete program and learn about new tools and tactile cues to encourage appropriate sound expression.

When Belle slows down, her articulation is improving. When she talks quickly, she seems to lack in skills that isolate her jaw, lips, and tongue muscles effectively.

Belle's dental appliance is still in place so we have some additional drool, as well as a chronic runny nose that doesn't help her breathing ability either. Even with these challenging factors, her progress remains steady. We will get there! It is definitely a journey. Belle's spirit and tenacity for better articulation remains strong. She loves to talk and has so much to say. She has lots of energy and wants to chit chat all the time. She keeps me on my toes!

-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 →