Tagged "Speech Therapy"


Success Story: JT and Elissa

Posted by Casey Roy on

"This weekend was this handsome young man's Communion and 11th birthday. It was an honor to be apart of his very special day. What an extraordinary celebration of milestones!!!

Success Story: JT and Elissa
I know it meant the world to everyone is his life that he was able to reply “Amen” for his ceremony.

He was also able to retract his lips to smile in pictures and blow out his own candles.

All important prerequisites for building proper speech development.

Success Story | JT and Elissa
He has made so much progress in the past year from non-verbal to verbal one word productions. Really super proud of him for working so very hard to learn how to talk and his family for always following through on recommendations.

Happy Birthday JT, hope all your wishes come true this year!!!!!

Big thank you to TalkTools Therapy, Dr. Kaufman, Forbrain, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, S'cool Moves, Ages & Stages, The Lovass Center for Behavior Intervention and Speech Works by Elissa, LLC. The combination of these tools and behavioral approaches really has made an extraordinary difference in his and his families life!!! Also, I want to sincerely thank his amazing team who supports him with his goals everyday! Team work makes the dream work!

Looking forward to even more progress this upcoming year."

~Elissa R. Mandel, CCC-SLP

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Elissa Mandel, CCC-SLP
Elissa R. Mandel, CCC-SLP is a TalkTools-trained therapist and the founder and executive director of Speech Works by Elissa, LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has an overwhelming passion and desire to improve the quality and availability of speech-language-hearing services both in Las Vegas, across the nation and around the world. She currently services clients in Nevada, Florida and internationally and has over 20 years experience in the field of Speech and Language Pathology.


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Sharing the gift of TalkTools with those living on Roatan, Honduras

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Kerry Tichi, MS CCC/SLP received a donation from TalkTools a few months ago to use with children and young adults with special needs during her trip to Roatan, Honduras. She writes about her experience and the impact it made on this population.

"It is with much privilege and gratitude that I have been able to share the gift of TalkTools with those living on Roatan, one of the Bay Islands of Honduras. Certified with TalkTools as a Level II Speech/Language Pathologist, I spent one week assessing and putting a basic treatment plan in place, for students who attend CATTLEYA, a small school for children and young adults with special needs. The plan, collaborating with TalkTools President, Luke Blessinger, was to arrive with a suitcase full of TalkTools material, do a brief evaluation on each student, implement a program plan for those students in need of Oral Placement Therapy, and train teachers and parents on the basics of TalkTools and the specifics for each child. 

Having lived on Roatan for three years, back in 2014, where my focus was on teaching English to an impoverished community, I had only briefly met a few parents and children with disabilities. For cultural and economical reasons, girls often do not receive as much education as boys in Honduras. As you might imagine, those with handicaps receive even less. Less respect, less dignity, less opportunities…less life. Thankfully, a strong, dedicated group of parents of children with disabilities there, has created more. More awareness, more opportunities, more dignity, more respect, more life.

  

CATTLEYA is an established NGO on Roatan, Honduras whose mission is to advocate for those with disabilities on the Bay Islands of Honduras. It is associated with the Honduran National Federation of Parents of People with Disabilities (FENAPAPEDISH) and is managed by its dedicated group of volunteer parents of children and young adults with disabilities. The goal of Cattleya is to reach every child, providing guidance and resources, to help achieve their full intellectual capability and integration as a functioning member of society.

TalkTools | CattleyaCATTLEYA is named in honor of a young girl, Mia Cattleya, born with Down Syndrome who sadly, passed away many years ago due to heart complications. It is also the name of a beautiful orchid, representing life and possibility. It has grown from a small group of concerned mothers in 2010. It operates CEDICA, (Centro Educativo de Desarillo Inclusivo CATTLEYA), a small school for those with disabilities. Currently, the school serves approximately 20 children and young adults ranging in age from 3 to 22 years.

Initially, all students were assessed, ranging in diagnoses from Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, West Syndrome, Autism, Developmental delay to undiagnosed. Additionally, another 10 children were assessed, who heard about my being on island via Facebook, television announcement, and/or word of mouth. By week's end, a TalkTools program plan was put in place for more than half of the children. All of the teachers, a few parents, and a retired SLP on island were trained in proper positioning, the components of standard speech production, the how and why of the chewing, straw, and horn hierarchies, and the criteria needed to advance to the next level. While it was a lot of information given over a little bit of time, we will continue to “talk” via email and video to provide ongoing education. Additionally, a follow-up trip will take place in three months time.

  

While I knew in my heart I could be of service, never did I imagine to what great extent!  With TalkTools help, and assistance of others interested, together we can make a lasting impact on this community. As this outreach grows, paired with trainings in typical speech/language development and intervention strategies, more children on island will be identified and reached. Using our skills and talents, offered in a culturally relevant way, within a locally driven, extremely receptive organization, can greatly assist those, too often marginalized in a 3rd world country like Honduras. Thank you TalkTools for partnering in this venture!"

-Kerry Tichi, MS CCC/SLP

  

Over the past 2+ years, CEDICA has grown from a two-room space within a clinic to a free standing beautifully renovated building. While they have come far, there is still much work to be done! Current needs include raising funds to:

1-Hire a Special Education Teacher/Administrator to oversee and guide program development.

2-Sponsor children/ young adults with disabilities so that they can afford to attend this school.

3-Provide ongoing Continuing Education for teachers and parents to increase knowledge.

4-Provide ongoing Evaluation and assessment of students and programs

5-Advocate for individuals with disabilities and increase awareness on the Bay Islands.

6-Improve the website to increase exposure, facilitating sustainability.

7-Begin planning for implementation of a vocational program.

In US dollars CATTLEYA's current monthly budget based on planned projections according to the above is $4623.70 and their actual capacity based on 2016 income generated by sponsorship, donations, board activities plus parent contributions is $3063.79.  CATTLEYA is short $1559.91 and is basically the reason they have not been able to have a FT Administrator/Special Education teacher, are lacking in specialized training, and have a limited capacity to reach more children and families.

If this resonates with you, contact CATTLEYA to make a donation today

Kerry can be reached via comments below. 

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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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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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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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