Helping People with Cleft & Craniofacial Conditions to Overcome Speech and Communications Challenges

Helping People with Cleft & Craniofacial Conditions to Overcome Speech and Communications Challenges

Recognizing July as National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month is an opportune time to raise awareness on the benefits of online speech therapy for individuals struggling with these developmental conditions. 

Speech and communication challenges do not discriminate even with newborn babies. One of the most prevalent congenital conditions is cleft lip and palate, affecting thousands of people at birth or challenging them as they face more complex, life-threatening craniofacial conditions throughout their lives. Other issues result from burns or injuries or a diagnosis of oral/head/neck disease.

Did you know?:

  • About 1 in every 1,600 babies is born with cleft lip with cleft palate in the United States. 
  • About 1 in every 2,800 babies is born with cleft lip without cleft palate in the United States.
  • About 1 in every 1,700 babies is born with cleft palate in the United States. 

Individuals with cleft and craniofacial conditions often confront challenges even after surgery and treatment. Some of these issues include speech problems, hearing problems, fistulas (small holes in the palate), dental problems, feeding and breathing problems — to name a few. 

How Speech Therapy Can Help

Speech therapy is especially beneficial for individuals with cleft and craniofacial disorders because it helps them overcome articulation and resonance disorders they may be struggling with. Additionally, some individuals may need help learning to make sounds and speak clearly. A licensed Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) can aid individuals struggling with: 

  • Glottal stops
  • Nasal fricatives
  • Pharyngeal fricatives
  • Mid-dorsum palatal stops
  • Hypernasality
  • Hyponasality

Joy Siegel, gerontologist, and Senior Medicare Advisor, Great Speech who struggled with cleft lip and palate says:

“I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and while I’ve been blessed to have incredible surgeons, as I age my birth defect presents in minor, but meaningful ways. Most recently I had major dental work done which had impacted my speech. As a consultant and educator public speaking is important. Virtual speech therapy has enabled me to feel confident about addressing these challenges and being able to communicate effectively.”

The main goals to help with “cleft palate speech” are to:

  • Establish correct articulation (placement, manner, and voicing) using articulation therapy techniques.
  • Ensure there is good oral pressure during speech sound production.
  • Establish new motor speech patterns that replace speech sound errors.

Benefits of Great Speech’s Unique Approach to Online Speech Therapy

As technology advances so do the ways of receiving treatment. Online speech therapy offers personalized care with the support of a licensed SLP who will develop a plan that works best for each individual. Since many with cleft and craniofacial disorders face psychological challenges and may struggle with appearance – being able to receive care in the comfort of their own home is a huge relief. This lessens the stress and anxiety that may come with traveling to an in-person clinic and helps improve access to care. 

Another innovative feature of the Great Speech approach to online speech therapy, an opportunity that is only offered by this program, is access to the Great Speech Portal: ‘synchronous’ sessions with an SLP, as well as ‘asynchronous’ sessions for the individual to participate in “homework” sessions between visits with the speech therapist. This program creates additional chances to reinforce learning and allows clients to potentially accomplish their goals in a shorter period of time.

Drew Schnitt, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Inspire Aesthetics says:

“Cleft lip and palate birth differences may have a severe impact on feeding and speech along with appearance. The goal is to make sure our patients are productive members of society and on an even playing field with their peers throughout life.  Speech therapy is often an essential part of treatment to ensure these goals are met. With today’s technology and the ability to use video style telehealth visits, every person in need of speech therapy should have easy access to therapy regardless of their location or inability to attend an in-person appointment.”

Furthermore, flexibility is one of the most appreciated aspects of Great Speech virtual speech therapy. SLPs have wide availability, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate busy schedules that may be strained by ongoing appointments with doctors or other treatment regimens. Great Speech’s nationwide network of SLPs also eliminates any geographical barrier that may limit access to care. This is a significant relief for clients who are juggling schedules because it ensures that receiving treatment can be tailored to their specific location and schedule.

As a result of virtual speech therapy, individuals struggling with cleft and craniofacial disorders are able to improve conversation skills and activities with friends and family.

If you or someone you love is experiencing communication challenges associated with cleft and craniofacial disorders, get started by scheduling an introductory call today.