Speech is a complicated process involving breathing, turning on and off your voice, and coordinating your jaw, lips, tongue and palate. This can be particularly challenging for children born with cleft lips and/or palates. Dr. Jason Toranto, a pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgeon at CHOC Children’s, addresses this topic with speech pathologist Mary Warden, also a member of the hospital’s cleft palate/craniofacial team, in this CHOC Radio segment.
Both Dr. Toranto and Mary stress the importance of speech evaluations, explaining that CHOC’s cleft palate/craniofacial team conducts speech evaluations of its patients approximately every six months beginning when the patients are 6 months of age until about age 2. This is to ensure the children are meeting key speech development milestones. The speech pathologists also serve as liaisons with the patients’ schools and encourage parents to take an active role. Speech language difficulties can impact a child academically and socially, explains Mary. The more involved parents can be, the better.