Belle is 4! It’s crazy to believe that we just celebrated her 4th birthday. This little gal is full of life, and we are so proud of her. Belle also started preschool this month. She goes three mornings per week, and is in a class with 11 other students, all of whom are typical kiddos. She is off to a really good start to her school year. Belle is always excited to go when I drop her off, and then after school she can usually tell me about 3-4 things about her morning- “played on the playground outside at recess, had animal crackers for snack, sang songs, and read a book.” Those are some common recaps that I get. I am hopeful that the rest of the year goes as smoothly as her first 3 weeks!

In addition to TalkTools, our local school district has also encouraged us to start speech therapy this year once a week for 30 minutes. This is really the first time that Belle has done “traditional” speech therapy. This experience has really opened my eyes and has served as a great reminder that TalkTools is amazing!! I am so glad that we have worked with this program for the past 4 years. I am confident that Belle would not be communicating at her current level if we would have solely followed the traditional therapy models. This is not to say that traditional speech therapy is not beneficial; I think that Belle will learn some things along the way for sure. However, the oral motor piece that TalkTools provides has been key for us. It has been the key to Belle’s success. One of the areas that we are really focusing on in Belle’s oral motor program with TalkTools is the need for proper tongue positioning for her N, D, T , and S sounds. Too often her tongue wants to stay pinned to the bottom of her mouth and come forward when she is making these sounds. It is a work in progress. In addition, Belle is working on verbalizing every word in her sentences. Many times she wants to skip over certain words because it is easier for her and she lacks some motor planning in certain areas. For example, she may say, “I call daddy,” instead of “I want to call daddy.” Overall, I feel like we are moving in the right direction with this, even though some days are better than others. Cheers to you Miss Belle for a great year ahead!

-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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