Maybe you’ve just received a cleft palate diagnosis, and you want to gather up as much information as possible. Or perhaps your child has already had surgery to begin correcting the medical issue, and now that he or she is talking you’re curious if you can expect speech delays. At the Wellspring Craniofacial Group, we understand your concerns about your child’s speech development. As Dr. Cone and Dr. Langevin tell the many families they treat every year, about 50% of children with a cleft palate will require some form of speech therapy during their formative years. That’s why, when your child reaches age three – and starts to really express his or herself vocally – we assess your child’s speech so we can work collaboratively to ensure your child’s speech development, and if necessary, refer you to a speech therapist.
Why Do Cleft Palates Cause Speech Issues?
For about half of our patients, their diagnosis and speech issues are just going to go hand in hand. That’s why we begin monitoring your child for speech issues all along the way. Sometimes, speech issues are caused by scar tissue from the repair surgery. Other times, it’s just a natural result of your child’s diagnosis, or due to further issues that need to be addressed surgically when your child is older.
What Sounds Do Children Have Difficulty Making?
The speech therapists with whom we collaborate look for these common speech issues children with cleft palates:
- Nasal sounding speech (aka, “hypernasal speech”)
- Difficulties making consonant sounds such as “p” and “k”
- If teeth are missing or in an incorrect place, articulating certain sounds like “f” and “v”
What Can We Do if Speech Therapy Is Not Enough?
Austin sure does have some amazing speech therapists available to work with your child, but in some children’s cases, speech therapy just isn’t enough to get them on par with their peers. That’s when it’s time to discuss with Dr. Cone and Dr. Langevin whether additional surgical procedures are necessary to best help develop your child’s speech.
Around age 3 or 4, we discover that about 15% of patients who have had a cleft palate repair are encountering speech difficulties severe enough to warrant an additional follow up surgery. While we understand that it’s never an easy decision to have your little one scheduled for surgery, remember, Dr. Cone, a father of four himself, and Dr. Langevin, a father or three, treat everyone of their patients as if they were family members. Your child is in excellent care when you’re working with Dr. Cone and Dr. Langevin.
Patients whose cleft palate runs through the gum ridge may also experience certain dental and speech challenges. At the appropriate age, Dr. Cone and Dr. Langevin will recommend an additional surgical procedure, addressing both teeth aesthetics and speech functionality.
Call Us Today with Any Questions
We know that cleft palate repair isn’t always a single event, but is sometimes a journey into adolescence. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
If your little one is approaching age three or talking up a storm even earlier, we want to partner with you to ensure the best speech development possible for your child. Call us today at our office at (512) 600-2888.