Tagged "Down syndrome"


Success Story | Cora Rose

Posted by Admin TalkTools on

Miss Cora Rose, a TalkTools® client since an infant, will be featured in a 60-second Super Bowl commercial tomorrow night!

She has been modeling for a shoe company called Livie and Luca under the "Changing the Face of Beauty" movement (pictures below) ... And now is featured in a SunTrust commercial "Hold Your Breath" (video below), kicking off a movement to help millions of Americans move from financial stress to financial confidence. It's a huge win for people with special needs.

Cora, her family and her TalkTools® therapist Heather (Peterson) Vukelich are part of an organization called the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area. Heather works inside the doors of the organization, and Cora and her family are members. The organization's mission is "to empower, inspire and support people with Down syndrome, their families and the community that serves them, while fostering awareness and acceptance in all areas of life".

TalkTools | Cora Rose  TalkTools | Cora Rose TalkTools | Cora Rose

Photo credit: Livie & Luca's Spring 2016 Catalog shoot

Read her story in her mom and therapist's words:

"I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of Cora’s ride :)   She and her mother Kerri are truly a blessing to me, and have taught me SO much.  That’s the best part of a job as a therapist… You start out thinking you are helping others, when in reality it’s the children and families that teach us the most about ourselves and life :)

Cora is a 4 year old little girl who is constantly breaking the mold and diving deep into the hearts of the people around her.  Cora started TalkTools® when she was an infant with the support of her mother, Kerri.  It’s Kerri’s consistency and tenacity that has made all the difference for Cora and her speech and facial development through the years.  Starting TalkTools® at such a young age not only has helped to facilitate more normalized speech and feeding development, but it’s also ensured that million dollar smile of hers!  Both Cora and Kerri have worked hard to achieve all of the sounds in her repertoire and her oral movements to support those sounds.  The most beautiful reward of all is hearing Cora’s little voice and the funny phrases she likes to use to amuse the people around her. Some of Cora’s favorite phrases these days are “Hi Honey!” (thanks to grandma), “ Have a good day!,” “Not a good idea!,” and “Oh boys!"

Cora is an absolute blessing to those around her and is unexpectedly broadening her reach to SO many with the incredible opportunities that have been sharing her with the world through the “Changing the Face of Beauty” movement, the Livie and Luca shoe company,  and now Suntrust Bank.   As with all people with differing abilities, Cora continues to teach us joy, acceptance, the benefits of hard work, and of course what life is really about: LOVE!"

   - Heather (Peterson) Vukelich, MS SLP-CCC (Danville, CA)

"Two years ago, Cora was part of a promotional campaign for Easter Seals of the Bay Area (she was receiving early intervention services through them at the time). The photographer commented that she was a natural with the camera and suggested I look into modeling. My main motivation for pursuing this with her was to hopefully change common misconceptions about what it looks like to have Down syndrome. I feel like the more exposure people have to individuals of all abilities, the more accepting they will be. Some companies have committed to be more inclusive in their advertising as shown by Cora's catalog work for the children's shoe company Livie & Luca. Not only have they included children of all abilities but they have supported organizations that assist children with special needs.

As far as the Super Bowl commercial, Cora went on an audition through her modeling agency and won them over!  On set, the crew was enamored with her and impressed at how quickly they got the shot.  She has a very agreeable nature, seems to enjoy having her picture taken, and follows directions really well.  She has a natural ability to connect with people. Her joy is contagious! I applaud SunTrust for the inclusive nature of their ad and for recognizing the beauty and value of every individual."

   - Kerri Slocum

And ... Here's the commercial:

TalkTools | Cora Rose TalkTools | Cora Rose

Photo credit: SunTrust 2016

Hopefully, Cora's story will inspire other parents to advocate for their child the way Kerri does, and companies to keep including individuals with special needs.

 


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Ella under the Spotlight

Posted by Admin TalkTools on

We are proud to show you this video of Ella Kinder, daughter of our presenter Dr. Julia Pewitt Kinder! Ella has Down Syndrome and this doesn't prevent her from singing and dancing beautifully. When she was a little girl, she inspired her mom to develop products and services to help other parents with early education. She is now a gorgeous teen, not afraid to perform in public!

TalkTools | Ella under the spotlight

This video was made by the school where Ella takes voice and dance, ROOTS Academy. Here's what they say:

"Ella Kinder has been a music and dance student at ROOTS Academy for the past few years. Ella is a ray of sunshine, has a heart of gold, and makes a special impact on anyone she comes in contact with. We are honored to have been able to be a part of Ella's life over the past few years, and we wanted to share a piece of her story with you."

Julia Pewitt Kinder, D.O., is a board-certified family practice physician, national speaker, best-selling author, and Down syndrome consultant. Working with parents, therapists, and the medical community, Dr. Kinder provides insight on how to maximize the development of children with Down syndrome. Her daughter Ella, who is thriving with Down syndrome, inspired Dr. Kinder to develop early childhood education products and services. She and husband Mitch reside in Missouri with their three children. For more information please visit www.juliakinder.com. She teaches TalkTools course "Partnering Effectively with Parents: Maximize the Potential of Children Receiving Therapy" with Whitney Pimentel, MA, CCC-SLP.


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Success Story: Maddox

Posted by Admin TalkTools on

By: Dr. Jamie McClintic Maddox Timeline

Maddox Before & After TalkTools® Oral Placement Therapy (OPT)

After our daughter Maddox was born, one of the first things her teacher said to us was, “Be sure that she can talk.”  Not just any kind of talk, but it was critical that Maddox learn to speak clearly.  As Miss Marie put it, “Intelligibility is what gives credibility.” She went on to say that kids with Down Syndrome are taken much more seriously when they are understood.

Along the same lines of language clarity, society also bases first impressions on what is visually appealing to them. As unfortunate as it seems, these statements are true.

Fortunately, the Down Syndrome Community has Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson and TalkTools® to thank for creating a program that gives our children a chance, a real fighting chance at their life.

TalkTools' simple Oral Placement Therapy (OPT) programs can have a very significant impacts on your child’s entire future.  Their techniques aim to improve the muscle strength and coordination of the mouth, which in turn produces increased feeding abilities, clearer articulation and consequently more visually appealing facial structures.

Think about it, we use physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve coordination for walking and crawling.  We use occupational therapy to strengthen muscles and coordination for writing and hand use.  Why would we not use speech therapy to strengthen muscles and improve coordination for speech?!

Let me explain how the program worked for us. An initial evaluation with a certified TalkTools Therapist allows them to identify your child's oral weaknesses, and create a treatment plan for targeting and strengthening those muscles.  After our initial evaluation with Sara, we received a packet of information in the mail. The most valuable contents being the home exercise program for us to follow with Maddox. It is was several pages long and extremely overwhelming initially. We did not want to be responsible for making a single mistake!  It took my husband and I two weeks and many read throughs before we finally had the courage to sit down and implement the first (and only the first) exercise.

It’s kind of like taking that leap.  Once you start, there is no turning back.  We quickly realized that this was not as hard as we imagined, and that Maddox was actually having fun!

I’d like to share with you a little about what worked for our family.  First, we purchased all the corresponding tools that were recommended in the evaluation and homework.  I dug an old cosmetics organizing bag with handles out of the closet.  We put the cheat sheet of exercise instructions in the bag along with all the tools and hung it on the corner of Maddox’s high chair.

This bag was a constant reminder to anyone who fed Maddox that there were exercises that needed to precede her meal. If two of us were home, one of us would sit and implement her program while the other would make the meal. If only one of us were home, we’d implement her program, then give her give her a few fun toys to play with as a reward during the meal prep.

Maddox’s nanny was also trained to implement the program.  In addition, she received speech therapy two times a week, and her protocol was also administered during those sessions by her speech therapist.

We functioned like this from the time she was 20 months old until she was 40 months old. On a given day, Maddox would receive anywhere from four to six exposures of her program and absolutely never less than three times.  When we started at 20 months, Maddox went from using 150 signs and having few sound imitations to speaking in two to three word sentences at 40 months of age.

It was also extremely important to us during that time to supplement general language with pictures, gestures, and/or sign language while Maddox was developing the muscle strength and coordination to speak.  This way, when the two parts collided, (language development and oral development), we’d have a talker!

And that is exactly what happened!

By 48 months, Maddox was learning to put ‘ing’ and plural sounds on the ends of words.  She was attending head start and used not one single sign! The photos above are before and after comparison photos of Maddox from 20 months of age to 40 months of age.  And then for fun, there is a recent photo! I've also shared some videos of Maddox practicing her speech at home and in therapy to show just how great she is doing! We are so proud of her, and hope that other families will find the same success that we did for their children.


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Success Story - Ozzie's World

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

We recently asked our Facebook fans to share their experience using TalkTools® therapy techniques, and we received some great responses. One of our favorites was from Jason Smith who wrote about his son, Ozzie. Here is what Jason had to say about his family's experience using the TalkTools® Honey Bear:

Ozzie's World - BeachOzzie's World


"Ozzie was born on June 1, 2014. We found out that he might have Down Syndrome on June 2nd. The diagnosis was confirmed on June 4th. Our world was turned upside down.

Having no experience with Down Syndrome, we feared the worst, but I wish we knew what we know now. Ozzie is pure joy! He loves his siblings, he is a ham, he loves the beach and swimming, and he has captured the hearts of countless people.

Down Syndrome is not as scary as one might think, but it is hard work.

Ozzie has been in therapy since he was two months old. We are committed to providing Ozzie with all of the tools and skills necessary to succeed. Being an English teacher, Ozzie's mom is especially driven to facilitate and develop his speech.

Before speech can develop, oral muscle tone must be strengthened. Ozzie nurses like a champ but really struggled with a bottle, cup, and straw. We felt that mastering the use of a straw would help Ozzie with his oral muscle tone and speech development. Drinking from a straw requires different muscles. We struggled with regular straws and baby cups and were left frustrated and defeated.

One day, Ozzie's physical therapist mentioned the Honey Bear from TalkTools as a possible aid. We ordered it immediately and followed the training guidelines that TalkTools recommended. Within a couple of weeks Ozzie was drinking from a straw on his own! He was four months old and we were thrilled. Ozzie was a four month old baby, with Down Syndrome, who could effortlessly transition from breastfeeding to drinking from a straw!

Raising a child with special needs takes extra patience, dedication, and love. It is also the most rewarding and humbling experience. We try to educate ourselves on any ideas, methods, or products out there that can help Ozzie along the way. TalkTools has been invaluable in assisting Ozzie. Thank you for providing support, guidance, and assistance to all of those who struggle to learn new skills."

Congratulations to Ozzie on his success with the Honey Bear, his parents are doing a wonderful job and we love seeing his cute pictures on Facebook. Keep up the good work!

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Dashiell Wins The Award For Self-Advocacy

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

"When our son Dashiell was born in early 2004 with Down syndrome, we immediately began researching possible intervention and therapy options. We realized that in our talkative family, speech would be our priority. When we found an article by Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP about her oral-motor therapy, the connections between feeding and speech really made sense to us, especially since we could start working on speech skills before Dashiell was talking. When Dashiell was five months old, I attended Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP, C/NDT's class on feeding children with Down syndrome and started doing the feeding and oral-motor therapy exercises at home. When he was a year old, we started working with Sara and other TalkTools therapists whenever the visiting clinics came to our area. Dashiell has been using the exercises at home for almost 10 years. He has worked his way through the feeding exercises, the straw hierarchy, and the bite blocks and is currently working on using the jaw exerciser, button pull, and tongue depressor push ups among other exercises.

The TalkTools program has helped Dashiell immensely. Because of his good muscle tone and habits, his speech is understood by unfamiliar listeners almost all of the time. His strong speech skills have opened many doors for him. He loves telling stories and jokes, and his friends in a typical classroom can understand him. He has made presentations to many classes and groups about what it is like to have Down syndrome and even emceed an event for over 600 people. We are so grateful that Dashiell can express his feelings and ideas. He has a lot of great stuff to say!"

-Dashiell's parents

Dashiell_Award

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