Speech development is a major concern regarding children born with a cleft lip and/or palate.
Even though corrective surgery of the lip and palate and therapy does help many children develop their speech to normal levels, some children can face significant speech impairments. By the age of five, “normal” speech has developed. In some children born with cleft lip and or palate, there are higher chances of speech delays. Children born with a cleft palate are have a more increased chance of speech problems because of the tongue not being able to hit the roof of the mouth correctly in order to pronounce specific sounds and words correctly.
- Speech impairments can persist because if the child’s teeth do not form correctly, their speech cannot be understood. The nasal cavity and soft palate are connected and for proper speech they must work together to produce proper air flow. Many sound, ba, fl, s, sh for example will sound distorted. With the help of speech therapy, it can be helped depending on the severity of the speech impairment. There are many speech impairment that effect cleft children more often, hyperacidity, speech articulation disorder, nasal emission, velpharyngeal inadequacy to name a few. When therapy alone does not help, corrected surgery is needed.
If you have any suggestions of additional resources, please feel free to contact me directly:
Milinda Catalano, National Coordinator ~ Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation Of Smiles
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