Speech Services

Speech Services at the CDRC Craniofacial Program

How does a cleft palate affect speech?

An intact palate (roof of the mouth) is required for normal speech. A palate that does not function properly may prevent your child from producing enough air pressure inside the mouth and allow air to escape through the nose, thereby preventing normal sound production.  The goal of our craniofacial team is to help your child achieve normal speech before starting school.

Most children with a cleft palate can develop normal speech after their palates are surgically closed.  Some of these children may require speech therapy (either through home programs or with a speech therapist) to achieve normalized speech.  Another 20% may require an additional palate surgery or a temporary speech appliance (that is worn inside the mouth) to improve intra-oral air pressure so that speech sounds may be learned.  The team speech and language pathologists will work with your child's team of specialists to plan the type of treatment that will best help your child reach his or her communication goals.

What is our approach to evaluating speech?

One of our team's speech pathologists will work with your family beginning at an early age to provide recommendations for improving speech and language development based on your child's abilities.  You will meet with one of the speech pathologists when your child is around 8 months old.  At this visit, you will learn about things you can do at home to help your child produce sounds before the palate is repaired.

After the palate is repaired and your child has recovered from this surgery, you will again meet with one of our speech pathologists for another assessment. Depending on what your child's speech sounds like at this time, the speech pathologist will help create a plan to continue to help your child produce normal speech.You will be seen regularly (every 6-12 months) to continue to assess your child's speech and find ways to improve the sound production.

Can parents help teach speech and language production?

Absolutely!  Parents are great teachers.  Our speech pathologists begin at the first speech visit to help you learn the most effective ways to help your child make various sounds.  While some children may continue to work with family members at home, others may also require outside speech therapy in the community.  Our speech pathologists will help you find someone appropriate in your community and can discuss the recommended treatment plan with the person who will see your child between visits with our team.