Meet Anna! This is our precious, happy, spunky four year old child with Down Syndrome. Everyone says it-her presence immediately lights up a room. She is such a joyful girl and she shows her happiness not just with a facial expression but with her whole body. Her deep, visceral gut laugh exudes joy. This summer, we traveled to Italy where she had a chance to spread her cheer around internationally! We also started swim class and horseback riding.
Despite her many interests, if I had to sum it up in one word- Anna’s favorite topic- I would say what she loves most of all is people! Walking into a waiting room full of people at a doctor’s office Anna feels the need to introduce herself indiscriminately to all, personally, individually, shaking their hands, and greeting them. As she is being strolled down the streets of wherever she may go, she is always smiling and waving to all. My 11 year old son said it best, “Mom, even the tallest, scariest looking man- those that I might be afraid of, even those men, have to crack a smile at Anna.” It is so true!
Knowing this about Anna is why I chose to dedicate myself to her speech therapies and to TalkTools specifically. She loves people and wants to communicate with others so desperately and as a mother, I am determined to do everything in my power to help her overcome the challenges that she has in speech. My hope and dream is for all, even strangers to understand her when she speaks. I got a glimpse of what life might be like for Anna as she struggles with her speech when I went to the dentist and had fillings for my cavities. Stepping out of the dental chair my lips were numb of course and I was trying so hard to talk. The dentist reminded me, “there’s nothing wrong with your muscles, you just feel numb, just a sensory thing, but you should still be able to talk.” And as I became aware of that fact I put forth the effort to speak correctly, to speak more clearly, and I seemed to be able to overcome some of that as I waited for the anesthetic to wear off. It is then, that I understood what Anna could in small part be experiencing. I imagine how hard it might be for her and this is why, in addition to her standard speech therapists, I diligently practice TalkTools with her.
In TalkTools she’s practicing those motor movements, clearly targeting, and building motor pathways and strengthening her muscles and making her more aware of her tongue and mouth with the hope and goal of clear speech articulation. Currently her therapies include facial massage, practicing of puckering/pursing of lips, chew tubes for jaw stabilization, blowing for breathing control just to name a few. I wanted to share some pictures from summer but also a sampling of her speech as she reads, “Wheels on the bus”.
As she starts up preschool again this year I am so looking forward to monthly sharing stories about our little angel and her progress in TalkTools!