Tagged "Success Stories"


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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Inspiring testimonials from ASHA 2015: vote for your favorite today!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on


Celebrating 30 years

In celebration of 30 years of successful therapy we asked you to share your success stories with us and the response was amazing!

Here are our three favorite videos. We hope you enjoy and you will cast your vote to help us determine the grand prize winner.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Vote closes January 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST.

 

Emily Chandler, M.Ed, CCC-SLP, BCaBA

“My name is Emily Chandler, I am a Speech Language Pathologist from Atlanta. I was first introduced to TalkTools several years ago. I met Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson and took some more courses. Later I began taking some courses with Lori Overland and her sensory-motor approach to feeding, which truly (in addition to the previous courses) really impacted my overall approach to therapy, and really enhanced my skill set, specifically with feeding, but as well as with speech, through the oral placement therapy techniques and applications. Her class, I love so much I actually ended up taking a second time and because of what I learned and gained from that course, I had several clients that were impacted. I had a child that was not hardly eating at all and now we’ve got them to regular diet with thick liquid consistencies, through a home program that we put together based on her program and the applications and the theories behind it. And in addition to that, I’ve had clients that I’ve have been presented with no consonance at three years of age, with just vowels, and use of the tools and truly understanding the application and the development of motor and the theories behind it really impacted my skill set and changed my practice completely. I recommend the courses to everyone. I’ve purchased the books as gifts for friends and I’ve even now opened my own clinic and I have a full caseload of clients that are really successful and that’s because of everything I’ve learned through these courses. So I’m very grateful for all the hard work they’ve done and I really appreciate it.”

Therese McCoy, MS, CCC-SLP

“Hi, I’m Therese McCoy. I currently live in America’s Georgia (I previously lived in Texas). I wanted to say “thank you, Sara. I learned so very much from you.” 17 years ago in Texas, I attended a conference for five days in Austin. I went to that conference because when I started working for early childhood intervention and making home visits - I have been an adult therapist prior to that -, I walked in to this very first home visit and there was a two year old standing with an open mouth with oatmeal running out of his mouth. And as I was smiling and shaking the parents’ hands, I said to myself: “I have no idea how to help this kiddo right now.” And that lead to the conference. Fast forward a few years, kids with severe impairments became my passion and my love, even though I always thought I would be an adult therapist. And I was really proud to say I really knew what to do with these kids. So, I want to say “thanks.” A lot of kids have benefited from what you taught me, and a lot of families have benefited from what you taught me. Because it was always the family that was really the center of the therapy. Because those moms and dads, they needed to do whatever it was that we were doing and know why. The hierarchical approach to everything really made a difference in all of those kids’ lives. And again, thanks, I appreciate it.”

Elizabeth Riedemann, MS, CCC-SLP

“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Riedemann, I’ve been a Speech Pathologist for forty years. In recent times, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a young lady who has Down Syndrome. When I started working with her, she was fourteen and was very unintelligible. At the time I assessed her, she was approximately twenty percent intelligible in connected speech. Her previous therapist had thought that her speech would never be intelligible and had focused on using automated communication or some other type of systems to get her to communicate. Her mother noticed that as she was entering at a lessons she was becoming more and more withdrawn in family events and would not communicate with her cousins or participate in any type of family activity. The mother requested funding from one of her state agencies and the young girl was approved for services through an agency that I just happened to work for since I retired from the schools. My initial therapy on this girl was not very successful but I had the privilege of seeing Renee Roy-Hill at our state speech convention and Renee’s ideas and speech therapy for people with Down Syndrome really changed how I did my therapy with this young lady and I started using several of their products as well as taking some of their online courses. It really changed my approach with this girl. I truly believe that she also had underlying Apraxia although that wasn’t diagnosed. And utilizing the techniques and materials that TalkTools offers in the three years that I’ve worked with her, she is now at seventy percent intelligibility in connected speech. The services, products are just amazing. I use a lot of their strategies in my therapy with other students. I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to use these materials and these concepts and strategies with this young lady and that she is now part of her family and is talking and expressing her wants, needs and desires. Thank you.”

We are incredibly appreciative of those who shared their stories, let us know if you have a story to tell.

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Success Story | Terrance and Vanessa

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Who is ready to hear a therapy success story? Terrance was 26 months old when Vanessa first met him and was unable to drink from a straw. What Vanessa did with this little boy is amazing and truly inspiring. We are so glad TalkTools® was able to provide her with the tools and techniques she needed to assist this client!

TalkTools | Terrance

"I always had a passion within feeding and oral motor therapy and that journey lead me to TalkTools. After my first training, I was hooked. I watched inpatient and outpatient Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists use equipment and weights to strengthen patients before going into functional activities … Why hadn’t SLPs been doing this?! Needless to say, TalkTools was my missing link in therapy and I quickly took more courses to better understand Oral Placement Therapy.

In April of 2015 I had a phone call from a distraught mother and I heard words I hear often from the families of prospective patients: “He doesn’t eat”, “I am so worried”, “He hates to eat”, “He is still on his bottle.” Then I heard something worse than what typically comes from the other end of the phone, “I was told he will never chew or eat food properly.” I explained that there must be something that can be done and that I was confident that with the training from TalkTools I had, I could make some sort of a difference. Maybe I couldn’t get him to eat what his siblings were eating at the dinner table but I thought we could get somewhere. Challenge accepted!

Terrance and his family lived 2 hours away from my practice but I happened to be treating patients a little closer to them and we met half way. For an hour and a half I was able to sit down with Terrance and his family and conduct a full Oral Placement Therapy assessment. I expected to see a boy who had no oral motor skills and I anticipated we could struggle through the assessment. Well, Terrance surprised me (the first of many times)! In front of me sat a little boy with a sparkling personality who had a great foundation of skills, he just had to figure out how to use them to eat!

TalkTools | Terrance & Vanessa

The little boy who “would never chew or eat properly” was able to fully compress both the yellow and red Chewy Tubes multiple times and he learned how to drink from the Honey Bear within minutes. Food wasn’t fun for him yet but I knew that we would get there. I explained to his parents that while the end goal was of course to eat and enjoy food, we had to prepare his sensory-motor system for it first. We were able to use the Pre-Feeding Chewing Hierarchy to teach the task of chewing without the overwhelming sensory input of food. Every chewing exercise began with a Chewy Tube and ended with food, even if he spit it out. Everything we did was fun and play-based, yet still pushed his limits. The best thing was he was so distracted by having fun, he soon began putting food in his mouth himself.

I put together a TalkTools program plan and gave his family homework each week. In May, we were fortunate that TalkTools® Instructor Renee Roy-Hill was in the area and created an in-depth Oral Placement Therapy plan for him. His family was very dedicated to working on homework I assigned them each week as well as following his program plan.

Six months later, Terrance has worked his way up to Straw #3, Horn #1, Bubble Blowing Hierarchy Step #4, just to name a few. He no longer requires a bottle for the source of his main nutrition or for hydration; instead he uses a straw. The biggest accomplishment is that Terrance is eating everything his family is eating! Casseroles, sandwiches, fresh fruit … He loves it all. There is no doubt in my mind that this would not have been achieved with any other program or training besides TalkTools. Terrance and his family travel 2 hours for our weekly therapy visits and continue to work very hard at home on his speech and feeding.

TalkTools | Vanessa

I am so blessed that TalkTools has come into my life. The skill set it has given me in invaluable to not only my practice but also the lives of the families I work with!" 

Vanessa and Terrance are now working on jaw stability, lip rounding, and tongue retraction among other things.

Vanessa Anderson-Smith is a Speech-Language Pathologist born and raised in South Dakota. She received her Bachelor’s Degree at Augustana University and Master’s Degree from The University of South Dakota. In 2013 she began Anderson-Smith Speech Therapy, LLC. Her practice focuses on assessment and treatment of motor-based speech and feeding disorders among children and adults. Vanessa lives in Canton, South Dakota with her extremely supportive husband, Ryan.

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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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