Speech Services

Like all children, your child will begin learning about speech from the very first day of life. They will probably also make sounds similar to those made by most babies. However; the development of normal speech habits can be affected by clefts since these defects involve the lip and palate. Early surgical repair usually provides a much improved mechanism for speech. As your child grows, the development of speech and communication skills should be followed closely by a speech development professional. A speech-language pathologist is a healthcare professional that provides speech/language services, and this may be provided in a medical setting, school setting, private clinic, or home-based intervention program. Treatment sessions with a professional will provide your child with the knowledge and skills to achieve normal speech and communication for their age or developmental level. The goals of speech services for children with clefts include:

  • Establish correct articulatory placement
  • Maximize oral pressure for the pressure consonant sounds (plosives, fricatives and affricates)
  • Maximize oral-pharyngeal articulatory function

Most children born with cleft lip and/or palate develop normal speech after their palate is closed, but many children will need further surgery and speech therapy or other assistance to improve their speech. Cleft speech may be difficult to understand because of one or more of the following communication problems:

  • Language delay
  • Articulation problems
  • Hypernasality
  • Nasal air emission
  • Compensatory articulation errors
  • Voice problems

Parents and caregivers play an important role in a child’s speech and language development. Children will need encouragement and positive feedback when participating in treatment sessions. It is important to work with your child’s speech development professional to cultivate a speech program that can be practiced at home. The following resources will help parents and caregivers better understand cleft speech and the various treatment options available for their children: