HomeCleft Lip/ Palate Speech Development with a Cleft Lip/Palate

Speech Development with a Cleft Lip/Palate in Dallas, TX

It is common for children born with cleft palate or with cleft lip and palate to have speech problems at some time in their lives. At the International Craniofacial Institute in Dallas, Texas, we provide a well-rounded approach to treatment that includes patient education and support during every phase of treatment, and we work with each family to develop a feeding plan that’s right for their infant.

A cleft lip is best described as a separation on the sides of the upper lip. This may result in a detachment of the bones of the gum or upper jaw. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of a person’s mouth. This is caused when the sides of a child’s palate don’t join together when the child is developing prior to birth. It’s possible to have this condition on one side of the mouth or on both sides. Some children can have both a cleft palate and cleft lip. It is common for children with one or both of these conditions to have a delay in the development of speech.

Why Does a Cleft Lip/Palate Interfere with Speech?

To make correct speech, a child’s soft palate raises and moves toward the back of their throat, separating the mouth from their nasal cavity. The air will then be efficiently moved out of the mouth. Children with a cleft lip or palate will seem to be talking through their noses. When the soft palate is not able to separate the nose from the mouth, speech will suffer because sound and air will move through the nose when a child talks. Parents will notice their child making sounds that appear to be a growl or grunt. This is what it sounds like when a child with a cleft lip or palate attempts to speak.

Do Children with Cleft Lip/Palate Have Speech Problems?

The reason children with this condition have speech difficulties is that there is no separation between their mouth and nasal cavity. They are unable to build up sufficient air pressure in their mouths. The air constantly escapes through their nose. These children have insufficient tissue on the roof of their mouths for their tongues to touch.

What Speech Problems Might Children with Cleft Lip/Palate Have?

It is not uncommon for children who were born with cleft lip/palate or both to have age-related speech problems. The will struggle to form words in their mouth. Children with this condition often have dental problems. This adds to their speech distortion. They will have difficulty in making “sh or “j” sounds and more. Others may struggle with incorrect articulation. This is how sounds are created with the correct placement of their tongue and lips as they speak.

What Can Be Done About Speech Problems?

Not every child with a cleft palate/lip or both will have speech development issues. It is still important that children with this condition be carefully evaluated by a team of speech-language pathologists with special training to address these problems. These pathologists will be able to monitor a child for any speech development issues. They will be able to recommend necessary therapy should it be appropriate.

Speech Therapy Techniques for Cleft Lip/Palate

To correct speech development problems, pathologists will utilize a number of tools. Mirrors can be utilized so a child can view when air is coming out of their noses. Tubes or flexible straws are utilized so a child can hear the excess sound coming out of their noses. A nasometer is a device that fits on a child’s head. A sensor is placed near a child’s nose. It is able to record extra air coming out of a child’s nose. The child will be able to see it happen on a computer monitor.

Why Choose International Craniofacial Institute?

The International Craniofacial Institute is one of the leading institutes for craniofacial disorders and conditions. Our doctors and surgeons have treated over 17,000 patients with genetic disorders worldwide. These disorders are most often centered on craniofacial issues, palate repair, and cleft lip repair. In addition to diagnosing and treating these issues themselves, the doctors and specialists also train other professionals from all over the world. The International Craniofacial Institute was founded by Dr. Kenneth Salyer, a surgeon, in 1971, and today it is headed by Dr. David G. Genecov.

If you have a child or another family member who is suffering from a genetic syndrome or has a cleft lip, cleft palate, or craniofacial complication, the staff at the International Craniofacial Institute can help. Contact us today to talk with the doctors and staff about your options and how we can help.