Tagged "Girl with Down Syndrome"

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 →

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 →

2 Years 10&11 Months: Five Word Phrases!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

2 Years 10 Months

Summer has gotten the best of us, in a good way. We have been busy with family reunions, lake trips, and a long road trip to a beach vacation. Belle enjoyed each of these adventures immensely, but I have to admit that we have not been consistent with our oral motor exercises this month. With that being said, Belle continues to be very chatty and has some new favorite words and phrases including "boat, beach, snack, dinner ready," and "my turn"!

In addition to our adventures, we have also been potty training. I thought Belle would slow down in her speech since I have been pushing this pretty hard but she hasn't. We have been working on day training for one month now and she is doing really well. "Potty, pee pee, and poopy" are, of course, frequent words in her vocabulary as well (as is "no no Mommy!").

Here are some recent pictures of Miss Belle, and pictures that include Annabelle's big sister Lyla doing their "mean, sad, and excited" faces.

2 years 10 months a square 2 years 10 months b square 2 years 10 months c square 2 years 10 months d square 2 years 10 months e square 2 years 10 months f square

And here is Belle chatting, singing and counting with me one evening before bed.

2 Years 11 Months


How is it possible that Miss Belle will be turning 3 next month? I think she has made great strides during her second year of life. Her vocalizations have really come on strong, which is probably her biggest accomplishment (in my opinion ;)). Although we are still striving for better articulation, Belle continues to have more and more to say each day. Belle is frequently using 2-3-4 word phrases but I am starting to get some five word phrases every day including, "Look at my shirt, Mommy" and "Burke back home, eat lunch."

My motivation for doing the TalkTools program is that I want to help Belle develop her ability to better communicate with others. We know that she has many thoughts she wants to share, her own perspective on events, and lots of insight into her daily world. She loves people and enjoys building relationships, which is founded upon communication. I am grateful for the skills she has developed thus far and look forward to the year ahead. Thank you Whitney and all of the staff at TalkTools for making this possible!

Below are a few recent pictures of Belle enjoying our state fair.

2 years 11 months b 2 years 11 months a cropped

And here is a video of Belle saying some of her common phrases, while "doing" her hair in front of the mirror. She is just too busy these days :D.

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 →