ACPA Family Services

#School-Aged Child

Archives

Summer Surgery is on the Calendar

Even if school is still in session, we’re heading into Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of summer for many families.  Summer means a lot of different things to different people but if you’re the parent of a school-aged child with a cleft, your summer schedule may center around one big event: A summer surgery.

There are as many great ways to prepare for surgery as there are children and families making those plans! Building a surgery calendar is just one of many ideas but we hope it inspires you to prepare for your own experience as you and your school-age child head to the hospital–whether it’s this summer or next winter.

  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital is a long-time favorite picture book for school-aged kids. A visit to your local library will turn up other books to share with your child as he or she prepares for surgery.

    Curious George Goes to the Hospital is a long-time favorite picture book for school-aged kids. A visit to your local library will turn up other books to share with your child as he or she prepares for surgery.

    A family surgery calendar is a simple way to help your child engage and invest in his or her own experience with surgery and hospitalization. School-aged children even as young as six or seven years have begun to develop a concrete sense of time though shorts spans–a few days to a few weeks–are probably most easily understood for younger school-aged children. A calendar can be good visual aid for children as they help prepare for their surgery.

  • A few weeks prior to surgery, help your child mark the surgery date on a calendar. Stickers, markers, crayons, and tape are easy tools for kids to use as they build their calendar. Plan a few specific events leading up to the big day and add those to the calendar. Possibilities include:
    • Visiting the hospital and admissions desk
    • Choosing a special toy, blanket and or book to take along to the hospital
    • Making a packing list and/or packing for the hospital stay
    • Visiting the library to search for picture books about hospitals or surgery
  •  Make a few plans for after the surgery date and add those to the calendar. The surgery is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to take center stage. Help your child think about and look forward to life after surgery:
    • Having a friend visit your child when he or she has returned home
    • A family picnic or cookout
    • The doctor’s all-clear for your child to eat a favorite food
    • Any other activity that will help your child focus on returning to life-as-usual after surgery.

Post your family’s surgery calendar on the refrigerator or some other high-traffic area in your home (remember to keep it at kid-eye-level!).  Add to it, revise it, and highlight days as they come and go. Print a Family Surgery Calendar.

Your treatment team coordinator will have other great information about your particular hospital and what to expect before and after your child’s surgery. 

What tips and suggestion do you have to share about helping children and families prepare for surgery?

Part 7–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

Special Challenges for School-Aged Children

Special challenges for school-aged children and their speech development are often associated with tonsils and adenoids. Some of these challenges include:

1) In their school-age years, some children may develop issues that are particularly challenging. One common issue involves a short palate which causes speech to become increasingly hypernasal or air escaping the nose when it hadn’t been a problem earlier.

2) The adenoids sit above and behind the soft palate (but we can’t see them by looking in the mouth). Adenoids can be relatively large in younger children but by 9 or 10 years of age (or older) adenoids may get smaller and take up less space. When this happens it may create a shortness of the palate that wasn’t affecting speech before.

3) In their school-age years some children develop large and infected tonsils and adenoids that may require surgical removal. Removing the tonsils and adenoids can have a very positive effect on the child’s general health. Even if the outcome of the adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy includes the need for secondary palatal surgery to correct the speech and resonance issues, it is usually a necessary step. Likewise, if a child has a short palate or a palate that doesn’t move well, they may need the secondary surgeries previously discussed. It may be necessary to remove large tonsil and adenoids before this surgery. The removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids may make the speech temporarily worse (more hypernasal with air escaping in the nose). This is a temporary issue that the scheduled palate surgery is meant to correct.

In general, the whole area of tonsils, adenoids and palate function can become very complicated and it is critical the child’s team is involved in the decision making for any of these surgeries so that outcomes can be anticipated and solutions planned from the start rather than after the fact.

Part 6–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

 

Tips for families about timing of speech therapy

Early intervention is often beneficial with the right approach!  Knowing what sounds to target and how to target them is important to later speech success.  If your child’s palate is not yet repaired, some early intervention teams will provide home-based speech therapy to facilitate vocabulary and receptive language development. Prior to a palate repair your child’s speech sounds will be limited to primarily /m/, /n/ and vowels.  Many children like to produce and experience grunting and growling sounds at this stage as well.

Emphasis on other sounds too early (sounds that require a completed palate surgery) can produce compensatory sound errors due to the limits of the palate; targeting these other sounds can create cleft palate speech errors that have to be corrected later.  Fortunately, there are many therapeutic activities including sound play and verbal cues that can be helpful and introduced in very early speech therapy. Many children do not receive early intervention services until the palate is repaired. At that time specific sound play goals can facilitate speech in the context of play.

On our team we like to evaluate the development of sounds approximately 3 months after the palate repair to determine the time to initiate speech therapy. Speech therapy is recommended if the child is not developing what are considered “high pressure” sounds. These are sounds that require that the palate seal off the nose from any air loss during production of these sounds, a function not possible until the palate is repaired!  These include sounds like “b, p, t, d, k, g, sh, f”.  Sound development is also driven by age, so the lack of an ‘f’ for example would not alone indicate poor palate function in a 2 year old. However, if that 16 month old or 2 year old is only producing nasal sounds (m, n, ng) and vowels, this would indicate a need for early speech therapy.

Speech therapy will look like play time but helps the speech therapist and child accomplish their work in the most productive ways.

Speech therapy will look like play time but helps the speech therapist and child accomplish their work in the most productive ways.

Speech therapy for young children is presented in the context of play! Since play is the strategy of speech therapy for toddlers to preschool, it is important to make note that although it appears the child and speech therapist are simply playing together, specific goals and strategies should be obvious to you as the parent. If goals are not explained or do not lead to increased sound play or expressive language, be sure and discuss further with your child’s speech therapist or on the team the examples of progress you are looking for.

Speech therapy ultimately determines the need for what is considered secondary palatal management which is a surgery to improve the function of the palate for speech.  If a child’s palate is too short, too immobile (doesn’t move well) or the gap between the palate and the back wall of the throat is too large, additional surgery may be necessary. However, speech therapy is the first intervention, often, throughout the toddler-to-preschool years.  In the past, five-years-of-age was the most common age for a  second a second surgery to address the function of the palate.  Now, with improved technology to help assess the function of the palate, some teams and surgeons are recommending them as early as 3 ½ years though again, most commonly only after a period of direct speech therapy.

The child’s ability to fully participate in speech therapy is significant by age 3 and beyond.  Targeting, for example, the sound being produced too far back in the throat or all out the nose (sound errors both common with cleft palate) requires that the child’s cognitive development allows him or her to understand the changes being targeted.  Determining that a non-cooperative 2 year old leaks air out the nose because of the structure of the palate may be premature conclusion!  For success at school, most teams like to see that by 5 years, or prior to kindergarten, the child’s speech is understandable to his peers. If your child’s speech quality suggests a surgical procedure may be needed, it is important to have the full participation of the cleft treatment team to help with making this decision.

Finally, some children do require a break during the time they are preparing for bone graft or during orthodontic expansion. Some of our older patients (teenagers) may have some errors on sounds like /s, z, sh/ due to the position of their jaw or tooth eruption. If these sounds will change with a change in structure, it is often recommended they follow up after any additional procedures. A short-term period of speech therapy might be recommended at that time.

Miss earlier posts in this series?

Part 1Speech with the Team, Speech at School here.

Part 2–Building the Relationship Between Parents, Team and School here.

Part 3–Timing and Need for Speech Therapy here.

Part 4–Why Aren’t we Done Yet? here.

Part 5–Surgery and Speech Therapy here.

About this series: We recently asked Theresa M Snelling, M.A.,CCC-SLP, to help us learn more about speech development and support for the school-aged child. We are so pleased to share her response with you in this special eight-part, One From the Team series, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

Teresa is clinical coordinator for the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO and has been working with patients and families affected by clefts for more than 30 years. If you need assistance locating a team or a cleft-specializing speech therapist, please, drop us a line or give us a call! 1.800.242.5338 or info@cleftline.org.

Part 5–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

Surgery and Speech Therapy

My child just had a jaw surgery to get ready for braces.  Will surgery and braces make more problems for his speech?

Palatal expanders. Many children report additional speech problems related to palatal expanders which are often worn before the bone graft surgery on the alveolar ridge (gum line).  During this time, children may struggle for as long as two weeks with poorer speech clarity and problems managing their saliva (spit).  After about two weeks most children have adapted to the appliances and things improve. This is not a good time for speech therapy as your child’s dental structures are moving and changing.  As the structures stabilize, speech therapy may or may not be needed. Certainly any new speech errors created by the expander (an example only, I’m not picking on palatal expanders or my orthodontic partners!) should disappear after the expander is removed or your child has adapted to its presence.

Some children require orthognathic surgery that moves upper and/or lower jaws forward (or back). Even though many of these larger surgeries are done during the teen or young adult years, there is a possibility with some of these procedures that a child’s palate becomes “short” in proximity to the back of their throat. If your child had a surgery to improve speech, such as a pharyngeal flap, when younger, the flap may create some pull on the movement the oral surgeon is trying to create. Releasing the flap may assist with the orthognathic surgery; however, this should be done in coordination with the team to minimize a negative impact on speech. There are many factors that feed into the outcome if this situation presents itself and too many factors to detail here, but this is an example of how critical the team consultation is to those outcomes.

speech mechanism

 Human speech is produced by the functioning of many complex structures in the mouth and throat.

Changes to the structure around the soft palate (back roof of mouth)–even without surgery or use of an appliance like an expander–can affect speech. This is another great opportunity to resource all the expertise available through your cleft palate team treatment team. Input from the speech pathologist, surgeons and dental professionals are needed to monitor, anticipate or minimize the effect the physical changes may have on speech and healthy speech development.  If your child’s speech changed/worsened as a result of another medical procedure, the team assessment will include a plan for improving speech. Although sometimes this can mean another surgery, the goal  is normal speech and resonance and so it should not be assumed, without further assessment or input from the whole team, that things cannot be improved upon.

Finally, by the time your child is involved in some of these orthodontic or oral surgery procedures, he or she is old enough to be actively involved in the discussion about treatment planning and follow up care. Engaging the child/patient in this way minimizes surprises for them and contributes to better outcomes–and that’s the ultimate common goal for parents, patients, and healthcare providers!

Miss earlier posts in this series?

Part 1Speech with the Team, Speech at School here.

Part 2–Building the Relationship Between Parents, Team and School here.

Part 3–Timing and Need for Speech Therapy here.

Part 4–Why Aren’t we Done Yet? here

About this series: We recently asked Theresa M Snelling, M.A.,CCC-SLP, to help us learn more about speech development and support for the school-aged child. We are so pleased to share her response with you in this special eight-part, One From the Team series, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

Teresa is clinical coordinator for the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO and has been working with patients and families affected by clefts for more than 30 years. If you need assistance locating a team or a cleft-specializing speech therapist, please, drop us a line or give us a call! 1.800.242.5338 or info@cleftline.org.

Part 4–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

Why Aren’t We Done Yet?

My child already had speech therapy when she was preschool age.  Why does she need speech therapy again when she’s school-age?  

First, keep in mind that “speech” includes many different areas that change over time.  Ongoing changes with your child’s mouth, muscle control, dental development and learning can lead to some periods of a break from speech therapy followed with a course of speech therapy. Some children require secondary surgeries on the palate to improve and normalize speech and resonance (oral speech vs nasal speech).

In early childhood and preschool programs, the emphasis of the speech therapy may have been to target language skills. This includes comprehension of language, vocabulary, grammar usage and the development of more complex language that precedes reading and writing in school. If your child needed this type of intervention, the quality of the speech may have been considered less a concern at that time.

Learn more about cleft care and the school-aged child, here.

Learn more about cleft care and the school-aged child, here.

As children progress into elementary programs, the differences between their speech and resonance and that of their peers may draw unwelcome attention to your child. He or she may be in need of a secondary surgery on the palate to improve their speech production. Children may get lost to follow-up with their cleft team due to family relocations, changes in insurance or just because parents and school professionals may believe that the child’s speech problems have settled down and now seem to be fine. However, if the school-based speech pathologist suggests the need for additional speech therapy it is very likely needed.  Remember the importance of your regularly scheduled treatment team evaluations in supporting the timing of speech therapy.  Additionally, your team will help minimize the delay in identifying the need for additional surgical management for speech.  Although your school-based speech pathologist may suspect speech issues are related to the palate, he or she may not feel qualified to make the recommendation. The coordination between the two settings is critical to the correct timing and outcome of surgical management, if needed.

Secondly, some speech error patterns, even in the presence of normal palate structure and function (meaning they are not in need of an additional palate surgery for speech) can take years to correct.  If this is the case for your child, consideration of additional speech therapy with a specialist in cleft palate may be needed.  The school-based speech pathologist may be hesitant to recommend additional speech therapy outside of school, suggesting that they are not doing it correctly or worried about the school having financial liability. However, it is often a very specialized speech approach that is needed and not all school-base speech pathologists have the expertise in this unique specialty area.

Finally, as you consider speech therapy for your school-aged child, always:

  1. Consult with your team speech pathologist about the progress or lack of progress.
  2. Discuss the need for possible additional speech therapy with a speech pathologist specialized in cleft palate.
  3. Share your questions and concerns regarding insurance coverage and funding or consult with the social worker on your team.

Speech and resonance issues can certainly require speech therapy into the school years but you should see continued progress over time. It’s important that all providers, including the treating Speech Pathologist, have an understanding of structural limitations and how these limitations will be managed over time to promote solid speech development.

Miss earlier posts in this series?

Part 1Speech with the Team, Speech at School here.
Part 2–Building the Relationship Between Parents, Team and School here.
Part 3–Timing and Need for Speech Therapy here.

About this series: We recently asked Theresa M Snelling, M.A.,CCC-SLP, to help us learn more about speech development and support for the school-aged child. We are so pleased to share her response with you in this special eight-part, One From the Team series, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

Teresa is clinical coordinator for the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO and has been working with patients and families affected by clefts for more than 30 years. If you need assistance locating a team or a cleft-specializing speech therapist, please, drop us a line or give us a call! 1.800.242.5338 or info@cleftline.org.

 

 

Part 3–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

Timing and Need for Speech Therapy

Do school-age children with clefts always need speech therapy?

No.  Some children receive early intervention services through their Early Intervention (EI) programs and have no need for further speech therapy.  Some children have secondary surgeries to address speech issues that otherwise aren’t responsive to therapy alone. Many of these children progress to normal speech and resonance.  Another small percentage of children will not require speech therapy at all.  However, the goals of team care, timing of surgeries and early intervention for children are all aimed at speech and resonance typical of their family and peers! Achieving these goals may take some years of therapy and/or additional surgeries, but the goals are still the same.

For example, if an elementary school-aged child demonstrates hypernasality or speech issues that are not age appropriate, speech therapy may be needed.  I have met patients at a follow-up cleft team visit who’d been told previously that their “speech was acceptable for a child with a cleft!” That is not the expectation.  At times, a child’s speech may be impacted due to orthodontic needs or orthognathic surgery plans that are not yet age appropriate. The child may be wear an expander that reduces speech clarity, but this is typically a temporary issue and speech therapy may not be recommended at that time. However, follow-up evaluation should be in your child’s team plan.  This point speaks to the benefit of your cleft palate team guiding you through the timing of therapies, surgeries and procedures. Sharing all of this information with your school-based speech pathologist will make for easier transition and planning in all aspects of your child’s school years.

I understand most of what my child says, but his school says teachers and other kids don’t. What should we do?

As a fourth grader, Jena Keith created a class project that helped her classmates learn about her cleft, surgeries, and speech.

As a fourth grader, Jena Keith created a class project that helped her classmates learn about her cleft, surgeries, and speech.

Most parents and siblings can understand their own family members at a level that others in their schools or communities cannot. It is very important to take this message to heart and follow-up with your team speech pathologist or your school-based speech pathologist.

At times, it has been difficult to qualify some children with speech or resonance (oral vs nasal) issues for school-based speech therapy. If it is determined that speech issues do not impact a child’s educational success–the common standard used for determination of services–that child may not qualify. However, if your child is not understood at a level equal to his peers, by teachers and peers, that is an impacting issue for educational success! Many parents have verbalized their concern for their child’s self-esteem and fear their child is not fully participating in school activities because of their speech. Every school district is different, but most will see this as an educationally impacting issue and qualify a child for school-based support.  Let your team, community-based or school-based speech pathologist provide an evaluation and follow-up with the classroom teacher’s concerns.

 How can parents help support healthy speech development for school-age children with clefts?

  1. Be a good model! This will not eliminate the need for speech therapy, but it is a good start for any child. Imitating your child’s speech errors as “cute” can prolong the use of these patterns.
  2. Access the resources in your community, including Early Intervention (EI) programs (Birth to 3 years) and Child Find programs (Birth to adult).  These free programs are available everywhere and most children with a cleft palate will be eligible for services as needed.
  3. Follow-up with your team according to your team’s recommendations! If a long lapse in team assessment has occurred, children may have needed another surgery, another set of ear tubes, a dental procedure or a palatal appliance. The later a necessary surgery or procedure is done, the more challenging it is to correct articulation and resonance errors in the child’s speech.

Miss earlier posts in this series?

Part 1– Speech with the Team, Speech at School here.

Part 2–Building the Relationship Between Parents, Team and School here.

 
About this series: We recently asked Theresa M Snelling, M.A.,CCC-SLP, to help us learn more about speech development and support for the school-aged child. We are so pleased to share her response with you in this special eight-part, One From the Team series, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

Teresa is clinical coordinator for the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO and has been working with patients and families affected by clefts for more than 30 years. If you need assistance locating a team or a cleft-specializing speech therapist, please, drop us a line or give us a call! 1.800.242.5338 or info@cleftline.org.

Part 3 of 8
Miss earlier posts in this series?

Part 1– Speech with the Team, Speech at School here.

Part 2–Building the Relationship Between Parents, Team and School here

Part 2–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

Building the Relationship Between
Parents, Team and School

What should parents know about coordinating speech therapy between the team and school?

Be aware that both the team speech Pathologist and the school-based Speech Pathologist have very busy schedules! This should not detract from your child’s needs being met or affect what services your child is eligible for but busy schedules are a reality that must be managed. When parents can assist with the communication between the two providers–school professionals and treatment team–things can happen more efficiently.

Some of the ideas that have helped with coordination between our center and the many school districts in our area may be helpful to others, as well:

Offer to initiate an email between the two speech therapists. I work on a local team and I see children in my private practice that specializes in cleft. In both settings most of my patients receive services at school as well. When a parent initiates an email between the school and center, it gets things moving! And, be sure to ask to be copied on all correspondence, too.  This way, you know the communication happened and can nudge things along if progress slows.

Why commit to speech therapy for school-aged kids? Meet singer, actress and dancer Jacqueline Denise Militano who found her voice and a passion for the stage.

Jacqueline Denise Militano
singer, actress, dancer

Bring any reports from your school-based speech pathologist and/or your private speech pathologist in the community to ALL team meetings! This includes IEP reports or goals and progress reports. When I am evaluating a child on the day of team with a short amount of time, the input from the treating speech pathologist at school will often guide me in the evaluation.

Why commit to speech therapy for school-aged kids?
Meet singer, actress and dancer Jacqueline Denise Militano who found her voice and a passion for the stage
.

Share all team reports with your school-based speech pathologist. Be sure that he or she actually sees the report! If the report is put in your child’s school folder housed in the office, it may not be read by the ones that should see it. Many of the school-based speech pathologists feel they are part of your child’s team (which they are!) when they are included in the reports between meetings.  You can even invite them to your child’s team evaluation if they have time.  This is often difficult based on the school schedule, but inviting them will go a long way toward emphasizing their value, contribution and participation in your child’s coordinated plans (both medical and educational).

Part 2 of 8
Miss the first post in this series?
Find Speech With the Team, Speech at School here.

About this series: We recently asked Theresa M Snelling, M.A.,CCC-SLP, to help us learn more about speech development and support for the school-aged child. We are so pleased to share her response with you in this special eight-part, One From the Team series, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

Teresa is clinical coordinator for the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO and has been working with patients and families affected by clefts for more than 30 years. If you need assistance locating a team or a cleft-specializing speech therapist, please, drop us a line or give us a call! 1.800.242.5338 or info@cleftline.org.

Part I–One From the Team: Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child

Theresa M Snelling, MA, CCC-SLP shares 30 years experience with patients, families and us, in this eight-part series, One From the Team, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

Theresa M Snelling, MA, CCC-SLP shares 30 years experience with patients, families and us, in this eight-part series, One From the Team, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

 About this series: We recently asked Theresa M. Snelling, MA CCC-SLP, to help us learn more about speech development and support for the school-aged child. We are so pleased to share her response with you in this special eight-part, One From the Team series, Speech Therapy and the School-Aged Child.

 Teresa is clinical coordinator for the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO and has been working with patients and families affected by clefts for more than 30 years.

 

Speech With the Team, Speech at School

Part 1 of 2

Look for part 2 tomorrow:
Building the Relationship Between Parents, Team and School

What’s the best way for parents to engage with speech services through schools?

Request an evaluation with the speech therapist directly or ask for a Child Find evaluation.  It is typically very effective to bring to the school your child’s team records and any assessments done by other speech therapists involved in your child’s care.

 My child works with a speech therapist through his treatment team. Why does he need another speech therapist at his school?

Speech therapy services provided in a clinical/hospital setting differ than those provided in a school setting in many ways.  School-based services can offer additional speech therapy that supports the goals and objectives determined by the speech therapist on the team. With limits on resources and insurance coverage, the additional therapy, when coordinated between the two settings, can truly result in more consistent progress.   Most children with articulation (sounds) and resonance (simply put, sounds in the mouth=oral vs. sounds in the nose=nasal) issues will at some point require treatment from a Speech Pathologist associated with their team or in the local community and who is specialized in speech issues related to cleft.

School-based speech therapy allows for direct assessment and treatment for your child’s success in being understood by their peers and teachers/other adults, at school!  In a hospital/clinical setting, children may make consistent speech progress, yet there are no ongoing changes or noted progress at school. In a perfect situation, a child would receive services in both school and clinical settings to optimize carryover and generalization of speech skills to all environments!

The key to benefitting from school-based services is a Speech Pathologist who is willing to investigate the differences in techniques, surgical management and cleft related speech patterns if their experience is limited.  In a local survey I did in our metropolitan community, the Speech Pathologists surveyed reported only 1 or 2 children with cleft palate or related speech needs on their caseloads over an average of 15 years working in the schools. That small number makes it difficult for the speech pathologist in the schools to be specialized in the speech needs specific to children with cleft palate. That does not mean you should avoid speech therapy through the schools; for many children it is their only option. In this case, your role as parent advocate and facilitator connecting both speech therapists involved in your child’s care ensures more and varied intervention for your child (keep in mind that signed releases are an important first step for both the school and team speech therapists).

Can our team speech therapist help the school speech therapist?

In our community, we often find that children are being seen for speech therapy at school but not by a speech pathologist specialized in cleft palate speech and resonance issues. The primary reason for this, typically, is lack of funding for the private speech therapy, and as previously noted, limited experience on the part of the school-based Speech Pathologist.  It’s important to discuss with your team speech pathologist, at your child’s regular team visits, the need for collaboration between the speech pathologist specialized in cleft palate speech needs and the school-based speech pathologist who may be providing your child’s only therapy.  The school-based speech pathologist has a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology; however, many university programs may offer no instruction on cleft palate speech issues, or possibly only a lecture as part of other classes. In fewer university programs, an entire class might be devoted to speech and cleft palate.

Your school-based speech pathologist has the background to address most of the needs your child may have related to cleft palate, but will likely need input from the team speech pathologist or a community-based speech pathologist specialized in cleft palate speech and language needs.

In the 30 years that I have worked in a moderately large metropolitan area, I have found “MOST” school-based speech pathologist appreciate the guidance and recommendations from the team.  In spite of large student caseloads, most want what is best for the children they serve and welcome the support.

Does speech therapy at school cost money?

No.  Speech therapy in the schools is funded as part of special education. Please don’t let that worry you! I have met many parents who didn’t want their child labeled or pulled out of class. Children do need to go through development of a formal EIP (Individualized Educational Plan) which includes assessment, data collection and parent meetings. This process is to protect your child. No school I have ever worked with wanted to deliver special education services that were no longer needed! It is a fear verbalized by many parents I have worked with over the years. However, in a typical school day in a typical classroom, children are coming and going for extra help for many reasons, and your child moving in and out of the classroom will be another typical event.  I add this information to this question because even though it is a free intervention provided by the schools, many parents have resisted because of the concern for the process.*

*CPF staff note: Regarding the concern for labeling and social stigma associated with cleft and speech services, parents, teachers and school counselors often emphasize that a child who struggles with speech issues may already suffer some social challenges because of them. Helping a child access resources that improve speech to some degree empowers the child to improve his or her social experience and with support of school staff, may be an opportunity to destigmatize the cleft and its effects on speech by helping peers learn more about it.

If you need assistance locating a team or a cleft-specializing speech therapist, please, drop us a line or give us a call! 1.800.242.5338 or info@cleftline.org.

On the Other End of the Line

You’ll meet many new folks here at Cleft Connection including a few regulars that you’ll see again and again. Take a few moments to meet those on the other end of the line:

Emily Kiser_colorEmily Kiser has been the Foundation Administrator at CPF since March 2011. If you’ve ordered a CPF teddy bear, applied for a CPF college scholarship, or ordered CPF booklets, Emily may have helped you. A Spanish-speaker, she is the first-contact person for our Spanish-speaking patients and families.

SW1Stephanie Williamson joined CPF staff as Director of Family Services in the summer of 2013. From direct service to research to education, Stephanie’s professional experience has woven through many facets of individual and family support. Whether you’ve got a question about a treatment team, feeding support, care as an adult, or any other craniofacial care issue, Stephanie’s mission is to connect you with the information and resources you need.

Lisa mugLisa Gist Walker has been part of the CPF community since 2006 and is former Director of Family Services. Since 2010 she’s managed special projects and events for CPF including publications and staff development. Lisa’s work with children and families stretches across more than 25 years and includes community mental health services and other non-profit settings.

         That’s us, the regulars you’ll see here at Cleft Connection.                 We can’t wait to meet you, too!

Welcome to CPF’s new blog, Cleft Connection!

Hello, and welcome to the Cleft Palate Foundation (CPF) and its new blog, Cleft Connection! Whether you’re meeting us for the first time or have known us for years, we at CPF have one guiding goal for our relationship with you: To help support and inform you as you make your way through the world of craniofacial care. Since 1973, we’ve supported patients and families through Cleftline, family conferences, and an ever-growing collection of educational materials. We are most excited about this new experience: engaging in conversation with you via Cleft Connection. Continue reading →