Tagged "Oral Placement Therapy"


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.

Cheers!

-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.

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4 Years 2&3 Months: Communication grants Belle the independence she desires

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

4 Years 2 Months

Belle is doing well despite our crazy busy schedule and lack of consistency with her oral motor exercises.  She is not regressing in any way, but I can’t say that I have seen significant gains in her speech clarity this month.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?  Her congestion has returned in full force this month and she struggles to get any relief in this area.  I feel like we have tried everything over the years.  On a positive note, Belle is a rock star at blowing her nose so that does make it a lot easier on her (and me).

In other news, we had Belle’s first ever parent-teacher conferences last week and despite some drawing and painting in undesignated areas, she seems to be keeping up with her peers quite well. Her teacher said that she is very social and is an active participant in all activities. Music to my ears!

In the pics this month, Belle enjoyed Halloween as a nice witch, and is still loving dance class and can’t wait for Tuesday nights!

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.2 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.2 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.2 months

In this month’s video you will notice that Belle has now taken over my job of introducing her (no, I didn’t prompt her to do this) and is also convinced there are 3 Sundays in every week. Watch how well she chews and keeps the food on the side with her tongue!

4 Years 3 Months

December was a great month! I got my Christmas shopping done early and that allowed me some extra time to do more festive activities with my kiddos this month. Annabelle has had a great month as well. She adores Santa and asked for a Barbie Dream House for Christmas, she fully participated on stage in her preschool’s program, and she even got invited to her very first sleepover (with cousin’s who are around her age).

The sleepover struck me as significant for many reasons. First of all, Belle’s cousins love to play with her just like she loves to play with them. That makes my heart very happy. Secondly, Belle had absolutely no reservations in staying overnight in a new place with no immediate family members present. And lastly, she is able to go and do things she enjoys because she is able to communicate!! This is a gift like no other. Communication grants Belle the independence she desires, and I couldn’t be happier for her.

TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months TalkTools | Annabelle 4.3 months

And here is Belle working on gum exercises:

Merry Christmas and cheers to a wonderful New Year!

-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.

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4 Years 1 Month: working on speech accuracy and clarity

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

4-years-1-month-a 4-years-1-month-b 4-years-1-month-d

We love working with Monica at TalkTools! She is full of knowledge and experience. When a speech issue comes up with Belle, and I am viewing it as a really big problem that we are going to be stuck on forever, Monica handles it so gracefully and gives me hope. She has years of experience with oral motor therapy issues so I feel like she has "seen it all." Nothing seems to surprise her and no problem is too big to address. I really appreciate and value those qualities about her.

Belle is continuing to speak in phrases and short sentences. She will throw out a 6-8 word sentence on a daily basis as well. One of our goals in our TalkTools program is to increase the accuracy and clarity of Belle's sentences. Often times, Belle will talk in phrases or will omit words. So, we are working with her to say all the appropriate words in a sentence she makes up. We highlight Belle practicing this in the video this month. She is doing well!

Below is Belle's video this month. It includes Annabelle putting sentences together while describing "verb" pictures I put together for her (with the help of her sister!). And at the end you will see Belle singing her ABCs nicely!

-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 →

Happy Birthday Belle!!! 4 and starting preschool!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Belle is 4! It's crazy to believe that we just celebrated her 4th birthday. This little gal is full of life, and we are so proud of her. Belle also started preschool this month. She goes three mornings per week, and is in a class with 11 other students, all of whom are typical kiddos. She is off to a really good start to her school year. Belle is always excited to go when I drop her off, and then after school she can usually tell me about 3-4 things about her morning- "played on the playground outside at recess, had animal crackers for snack, sang songs, and read a book." Those are some common recaps that I get. I am hopeful that the rest of the year goes as smoothly as her first 3 weeks!

TalkTools | Annabelle 4 years

In addition to TalkTools, our local school district has also encouraged us to start speech therapy this year once a week for 30 minutes. This is really the first time that Belle has done "traditional" speech therapy. This experience has really opened my eyes and has served as a great reminder that TalkTools is amazing!! I am so glad that we have worked with this program for the past 4 years. I am confident that Belle would not be communicating at her current level if we would have solely followed the traditional therapy models. This is not to say that traditional speech therapy is not beneficial; I think that Belle will learn some things along the way for sure. However, the oral motor piece that TalkTools provides has been key for us. It has been the key to Belle's success. One of the areas that we are really focusing on in Belle's oral motor program with TalkTools is the need for proper tongue positioning for her N, D, T , and S sounds. Too often her tongue wants to stay pinned to the bottom of her mouth and come forward when she is making these sounds. It is a work in progress. In addition, Belle is working on verbalizing every word in her sentences. Many times she wants to skip over certain words because it is easier for her and she lacks some motor planning in certain areas. For example, she may say, "I call daddy," instead of "I want to call daddy." Overall, I feel like we are moving in the right direction with this, even though some days are better than others. Cheers to you Miss Belle for a great year ahead!

-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 8&9 Months: Ups and Downs

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

2 Years 8 Months

Hello!

Today we were walking through the snack/cereal aisle at the grocery store, and Belle had spotted something so she ran ahead. She quickly grabbed a box of the shelf and came running back with it, exclaiming with all her excitement, "Daddy fruit chews!" Three words. Clear as day. No question about it. Needless to say, we couldn't say no and happily added the box to our cart. There isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't amaze me in some way. To date, Belle has more than 120 words and is continuing to express several two-word combinations.

I can honestly say that there would be no way that Belle would be at her current level in communication skills if it wasn't for our work with TalkTools. When Belle was only a few months old, a friend and Down syndrome expert, Julia Kinder, told me that of all the programs out there, the one that we absolutely could not do without is TalkTools. So, we entered this program with Whitney Pimentel when Belle was just 5 months old. What a blessing it has been! I am so grateful that Belle has the verbal ability to communicate many of her thoughts and requests. What a gift.

TalkTools | Annabelle 2.8 years

2 Years 9 Months

Sometimes in a quick video clip or picture, it may appear that things are easy, full of joy, and stress free all the time. Even though we all know this is not true, it is so tempting to compare ourselves to our neighbors, coworkers, and friends on social media when we view these snippets of someone else's life through a photo or video. The truth is that every day is full of ups and downs, especially with young children. Belle has a full range of emotions, even though I typically only video her when she is in an agreeable mood.  What motivates Belle one day is not interesting to her the next. Honestly, we have days when she puts up a pretty good fight to avoid doing her oral motor exercises. I have to pick and choose carefully to approach her about her tasks. Even though Belle is doing the "work" in our TalkTools program, I have to put forth an equal amount (or more) of effort on most occasions. This is not to say that it isn't worth it. It totally is! I am so excited about her progress, which makes it all worth it for me. I am thrilled for her and thrilled for me!

2 years 9 months

Belle's verbalizations are pretty constant. Her brother and sister even "shush" her a few times every day when they are trying to watch a television show, etc. Belle is also making some progress on answering questions appropriately. For a long time, she would just repeat the last option you offered her. For example, if you ask her if she would like milk or water, she would say water. If you then followed up by asking if she would like water or milk, she would respond "milk." She still does this quite frequently but is having some success in processing the question and responding with the correct answer.

Belle will make an attempt to say almost anything you ask of her. She sings, pretends to read books, and chatters endlessly. So... now our goals have shifted toward articulation, articulation and articulation. Even though she talks a lot, it is pretty hard to understand most of what she is saying (unless you have an idea of the subject matter).

Whitney has tailored our efforts to move towards clearer speech, the next phase of communication for Belle. Since our summer schedule is not as structured, Whitney has also helped us focus on what is most important if we can't work through our full program each day. I love summer but look forward to getting back on the "full track" this fall.

-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 →
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