Success Story: Andrew & Vanessa

Over 3 years ago I began working with Andrew who has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Anyone that knows Andrew will tell you that his personality and smile lights up every room that he is in. Each time I arrive for therapy I am greeted with squeals of laughter and a wave from the hardest working boy I know! While therapy has targeted both speech and feeding over the years, I want to highlight the progress he has made with his expressive communication.

I am thankful that before I started, he was evaluated by Renee Roy Hill who created a program plan specialized for him. I was still new to working with oral placement therapy so the guidance was invaluable to have. Andrew has childhood apraxia of speech, which means he has a breakdown in communication between his brain and the muscles he needed to move to speak. We started out with Andrew simply “turning his voice on” and saying “ahh” on command to request items. When we first started this task would require up to 10 seconds of wait time and we could accomplish about 5 productions during a session. We also used the TalkTools Horn Hierarchy to our advantage to help Andrew with abdominal grading and airflow need for speech.

I know I said that I am highlighting his communication skills, but in kiddos like Andrew you can’t separate the relationship between speech and feeding! A lot of his feeding exercises have significantly helped his speech development. For example, we have worked on the Chewy Tube Hierarchy every single session since therapy started 3 years ago to help with his chewing as well as his jaw strength and grading needed for speech sounds. After practicing biting on the chewy tubes all these years, it has given Andrew more control of his jaw movements needed for producing speech sounds.

Fast forward to today… the little boy that needed a lot of time and practice to say “ahh” is now saying “Mom” consistently and every day! Every morning he wakes up and makes his /w/ sound, asking for his brother named Will! It has been so special to be a part of a family who has dedicated so much time to helping their brother and son learn to communicate!

~Vanessa Anderson-Smith

Andrew practicing jaw closure with Progressive Jaw Closure Tubes.

Congrats on all your hard work, Andrew! <3


Vanessa will be hosting a LIVE webinar on Saturday, April 21, 2018.


Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 11 a.m.-2 p.m.


Vanessa Anderson-Smith is a TalkTools LEVEL 4 ADVANCED trained therapist and 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 am


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