Tagged "TalkTools program"

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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4.4 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.

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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

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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 →

3 Years 10&11 Months: Getting back-to-school after Disney World magic

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

3 Years 10 Months

Summer continues in our household! This month, Belle has enjoyed swimming lessons (and lots of pool time), a slip'n slide party, BBQs, fairs, a trip to the lake, and a full week at Walt Disney World! While our hearts may be full, our routine is not. :) However... Belle continues to do well, even though we have not devoted an adequate amount of time to our oral motor exercises. Her vocabulary is increasing steadily and so is her usage of full sentences. I used to keep a list of the words she uses, but I gave that up months ago. I would estimate that she has a voluntary verbal vocabulary of 600-800 words. Today at lunch she said, "Papa, can I have the honey please?" Other recent examples of sentences include statements such as "I am taller. I am a big kid now." and "I am Annabelle Kate. I am three and my birthday is September 13th. I live in Chillicothe, Missouri. My mom is Lanie and my dad is Brad."

A highlight of our month was getting to meet up with Monica Purdy, a TalkTools speech therapist and instructor, while we were in Disney World. Talk about fabulous service! Monica braved the crowds, heat, and her tight schedule to come work with us at Hollywood Studios. Although this was her first time meeting Monica, Belle worked hard and had a lot of fun too. We discovered some areas that we really need to focus on as we get back into our routine next month.

I am thrilled with Belle's development.  Thank you TalkTools for helping Belle find her voice! We love exploring life with her!

TalkTools | Annabelle 3.10 yearsTalkTools | Annabelle 3.10 years3-years-10-months-c3-years-10-months-d3-years-10-months-e

And here is a playful conversation with Belle as she was heading to bed a few weeks ago, before we went to Disney World. (Sneak peek: "What do you want to do when you grow up? -This tall!" )

3 Years 11 Months

I will start with the good news! The good news is that Belle's older siblings are back in school so we are settling back into a routine with our oral motor exercises. My goal is to complete our TalkTools program four times per week. I am not sure if this will be 100% sufficient, but I do know that seven days per week is an unrealistic goal for us. Being back on track feels oh so good.

The bad news is that I don't think Belle's speech clarity has improved much this month. She is continuing to verbalize consistently throughout the day and is even coming up with some new clever thoughts and observations. However, I believe her articulation in phrases and short sentences is at a stand still. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. I will get to the obvious one first and that is our crazy, inconsistent summer schedule that messed up our oral motor exercise routine. I take full responsibility for this. The second reason is that Belle has been fighting a cold for this entire month and is completely congested. She is mouth breathing, slobbering a bit, and is feeling under the weather. I am hopeful that she gets cleared up soon.


Here is our video this month of Belle working on her numbers to 20 with a puzzle as a visual aid for counting.

Cheers to back to school! Have a great weekend,

-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 →