At Happy Kids Therapy we specialize in using the TalkTools Oral Placement Therapy (OPT) methodology. Children are evaluated for speech clarity levels and feeding development skills. Speech clarity includes: sound production, overall intelligibility, motor planning (including Apraxia), oral stability and strength (including Dysarthria), and abdominal grading necessary for airflow production. Feeding skills evaluated include: spoon feeding, straw/cup drinking, tongue mobility, cheek tension, lip mobility, oral phase of swallowing, and chewing skills. (For more information please read Publications on the TalkTools website.)
When Should We Start Therapy?
Children with Down syndrome are most often born with low muscle tone and low muscle strength. Associated with those are often sensory differences. Due to these differences, it is important to help your child "feel" and process their oral movements as they relate to feeding development (nursing/bottle or spoon feeding/chewing), as well as how they relate to oral movements for sound development. It's never too early to start creating the correct movement patterns for feeding and speech development!
Children who begin therapy under the age of 1 often have more normalized oral functioning for feeding and sound/speech development throughout their toddler and elementary years. Check out this video from Heather's mentor, Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP.
Children who start therapy later also have good prognosis and results. Please read the parent testimonials page for a few examples.
Happy Kids Therapy treats over 90 children with the diagnosis of Down syndrome each year. A child's therapy frequency varies specifically to each family's needs. Many children receive weekly, every other week or monthly services (1 hour). Children who travel longer distances do quarterly program plan updates (1.5 hours). Home programs are provided for all children and are highly recommended to be followed 3-5x per week (20 min p/day). Virtual appointments are also available.
Oral Placement Therapy uses a variety of tools to achieve speech and feeding goals. Tools are purchased by each family and used daily during homework times. Therapy programs are built in hierarchies. Children are assessed during each therapy session and tools are progressed as oral skills develop.
Collaboration between your child's team of providers is very important. We work closely with airway centric professionals like orthodontics and ENT's to ensure oral development is progressing well. OPT can often be incorporated in: school (1:1 aide/SLP/teacher), daycare, private speech therapy, or by other family members/caretakers. Training can be provided to any and all members of your child's team.
Scholarship funding is available. Please ask Heather directly.
Due to the pandemic, the Down Syndrome Connection has been closed and Heather has been treating clients virtually or in person at her home.
(Pre-Covid) Office space at the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (Monday - Wednesday).