Tagged "Heather Vukelich"
This is beautiful Anna. She started her OPT (Oral Placement Therapy) program three months ago and has made incredible speech gains because of it. She is now starting to pucker her lips for /oo, oh/ sounds. She has increased her stability, strength and activation of her oral muscles greatly as seen when she speaks with much more oral movement.... READ MORE
Heather A. Vukelich, MS, CCC-SLP, TalkTools Level 4 Therapist specialized in Down Syndrome, has recorded her adult client Emma along her progression in speech clarity, from 18 to 24. Heather sees clients in her private practice Happy Kids Therapy in Danville, CA. Here is what she writes about Emma.
"Emma is a very intelligent and social young woman with Down syndrome. At the initiation of therapy Emma had severe jaw weakness and extremely limited tongue movement. She worked very hard overcoming both. As you can see Emma's speech clarity increased greatly through her dedication to the program. Other parents often comment on Emma's clarity. They are often very surprised when they learn she started the program when she was 18. Emma is a true testimony to the TalkTools program and her intrinsic motivation. Emma is an incredible young woman who I am proud to call a good friend."
- Heather Vukelich
Video 1: Emma's first therapy session at 18
Video 2: Post jaw work / lip rounding at 19
Video 3: /t/ and vowels post tongue work at 23
Video 4: Generalizing /t, d, n, l/ & counting at 24
Video 5: Celebrating her success and working on /sh/ and /t/ at 24
Video 6: Emma's last therapy session at 24
Congrats Emma on your perseverance and clear speech!
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".
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:
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.