Bella started Oral Placement Therapy (TalkTools) with Heather when she was 8 months old. She is now almost 5 years old and I am SO happy with her speech as well as eating, drinking, tongue retraction and general oral management. She basically has no tongue protrusion because her jaw has become very strong and stable with TalkTools therapy. Her speech is prolific and very intelligible. Her teachers at her typical preschool have no trouble understanding her, which is huge. She also drinks from an open cup or with a straw and eats a very large variety of foods all with proper utensil usage. What I am most impressed with is her speech. Most of the words she says sound completely typical and she comes up with the cutest phrases all on her own. Two of my recent favorites are “try again honey” and “come on dude”. Overall I am extremely happy with what TalkTools, and Heather specifically, have done for my daughter’s ability to speak clearly and to fit in completely in her inclusive school environment as well as in our family!
“Our not quite 2 year old son Andre worked with a feeding therapist from our HMO. As a mother I saw that some of the therapies were further exacerbating his already forming bad habits. When we started the TalkTools program Andre was eating only pureed foods and drinking only from a bottle. After 11 weeks, he was chewing soft solids and moving his tongue from side to side. He is drinking from a straw and is starting to blow bubbles. What a difference the right program makes!”
"My 16 year old son Michael has Down syndrome and a very limited intelligible vocabulary of an 18 month old. Over the years I have wondered why his intelligibility never improves and often seems to get worse as he tries to say more and more. At age 14 I started Michael on the TalkTools program. Heather explained to me that Michael has jaw weakness which inhibits his entire mouth from moving correctly during speech. She recommended I work with my son 5x/week. Instantly we were seeing results. Family and friends noticed a difference in the first month. They could understand him better, without me translating! In the second month he said "I love you mom" and it was clear!!! I was jumping up and down clapping and laughing. Now he's saying words like "basketball and tuna sandwich" clearly!! Oral Placement Therapy has changed our lives for the better. My school speech therapist also started incorporating jaw activities into his sessions 10 min per day and it’s made so much difference! It has helped with behavior issues and independence. Michael really wants to lead an independent life. It is happening for us, before our very eyes and we are SO happy!"
“Oral motor therapy has helped Elliott improve his articulation as well as his self confidence. This past year, we have finally conquered /sh, ch, dj/ and we are transferring them into conversation. We see the benefit of Heather's work everyday when he interacts with his peers and siblings and almost all his speech is intelligible. The Talk Tools program not only helped Elliott improve his articulation, but it has enhanced his overall quality of life as he is now able to have more meaningful conversations and build deeper social connections. Heather is so wonderful; oral motor work is not just a job for her but a genuine passion that is evident every time she works with Elliott."
After years of speech therapy that gave us little hope and minimal progress, we have finally found a program that makes sense to us. Heather has been amazing! She really takes the time to teach parents the techniques of using the Talk Tools and thoroughly explains the mechanics of the mouth and jaw to produce speech. We are seeing great results in the alignment of Elijah’s jaw, and slowly but surely his speech is becoming more clear every day. We couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made in such a short amount of time. We are so excited for what the future holds. Many thanks and blessings to you Heather for all of the families you serve and the lives that you change.
Please feel free to ask us for parent references before you start an OPT program.
We moved into the local area from New Jersey last year. Being a pediatrician, I knew that early intervention for speech was critical and I had started Anna in speech therapy early in life. However, what I did not know was regarding the TalkTools program and the critical component of oromotor function in relation to speech. It was not until another parent with a child with Down syndrome referred us to Heather, a speech therapist that specializes in working with individuals with Down syndrome, that I began to see tremendous gains in Anna’s speech. Although, standard speech therapy is paramount, I truly believe that this program is an essential component to speech clarity. The most common communication problem for adults with Down syndrome is that their speech may be difficult to understand. This can, unfortunately, lead to social isolation and other untoward effects in our children. Heather clearly outlines the steps that need to be taken in such an encouraging and supportive fashion. She has a wealth of knowledge with a unique set of skills and experience. In a short 3 months, we have seen incredible progress in Anna’s speech. Her jaw strength has increased drastically and now, she is finally able to round out her lips to be able to produce the /oh, oo/ sounds in daily speech. Using TalkTools in conjunction with the See and Learn program through the Down Syndrome Education Network has definitely had a synergistic effect and has led to Anna’s success. She is definitely more confident, and as a result she strives to speak more, and the number of words she speaks has been increasing dramatically. Everywhere she goes, Anna smiles, waves, and initiates conversation, and the reaction is always the same, “Wow, her speech is so clear.” I am eager to see what Heather has planned for us next. We are ready to strive for that next level and am so excited for our daughter’s future. What a blessing Heather has been to our daughter Anna and our entire family!