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The development of speech in the child with a cleft lip

Children whose cleft does not affect the palate generally have no cleft-related speech problems. However, all children will still be seen by one of the speech and language therapists on the cleft team at three years old to check how his or her speech and language skills are developing.

Speech development in children born with a cleft palate

Many children born with a cleft palate develop normal speech, but some children may need extra help. Around half of all children with a cleft palate will need some speech therapy. This can often be due to the structural differences a child born with a cleft palate has. Such differences may cause difficulties with articulation and with the use of the soft palate.

Where a lot of air is heard coming down the nose when speaking, speech therapy alone may not be enough. Further surgery on the soft palate may be necessary to resolve this problem. About 15% of children with a cleft palate require this. The Cleft surgeon and Specialist Speech Therapist will decide whether any further surgery is needed. Following surgery, speech therapy may still be needed in order to eradicate any unhelpful speech habits that remain.

Speech Therapy Assessment

A Specialist Speech and Language Therapist from the Cleft Team will see your child for an assessment at age two and three years and then in a multi-disciplinary clinic at age five, ten, 15, and 20. Any speech and language therapy will be arranged, where necessary.

If you are a Speech and Language Therapist you can request a second opinion for a child or adult you are seeing by downloading and completing this  form.

Babble advice for babies

This video has been created to give babble advice to parents and carers of babies born with a cleft palate. There are some quick and simple ways that may help prevent your child from developing bad speech habits, decreasing the need for speech therapy later on.