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We are the cleft link speech and language therapists who liaise between Cleft Lip and Palate team, Speech and Language therapy services at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the Community Speech and Language Therapy Service.

Potential effects of cleft on communication development:

Children with cleft palate can be vulnerable to delayed language and/or delayed/disordered speech, however this may not necessarily be the case. Not every child with a cleft palate will have delayed communication or speech development.

Possible patterns which can be typical in the speech of children with cleft lip or palate may include:

  1. Changing sounds which should be produced at the front of the mouth to the back, (‘Backing’) – e.g. the word “tea” would be pronounced “key”
  2. Over use of sounds made at the very back of the throat – known as ‘glottal’ sound.
  3. Some sounds are produced alongside air coming down through the nose
Cleft

Further advice/support:

The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) is a small charity working to improve the lives of people born with a cleft and their families.          https://www.clapa.com/ 

Birmingham Woman's & Children's NHS Foundation Trust 
https://bwc.nhs.uk/cleft-lip-and-palate  

Health talk
Healthtalk.org

When are we involved?

Children identified with cleft palate, will have been referred from birth onwards to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Specialist Cleft Palate team, who will then refer to the Community cleft link therapy team.  

The Link therapist will book in an assessment appointment with the family when the child is around 20 months old, to discuss their over-all communication development and arrange for further input from the as needed. 

After turning approximately 2 years old, any support needed in Community will be offered by therapists at the local clinic (supported by the Cleft link Therapy team as necessary).

Children will also continue to receive their care from the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Team throughout their childhood regardless of community services involvement. 

Please note that should support be required for feeding, a separate referral will be made to our eating and drinking team.

Support Offered: 

Speech and Language Therapy involvement will vary according to the child’s needs.

Before 2 years old, any assessment or therapy will be delivered at home. Advice might include strategies for parents, carers or professionals to use in order to help develop the child’s early speech sounds, language and communication skills. 

Following this, therapy may be offered in the form of a group or individual sessions at the clinic. Liaison may also take place with the child’s nursery or school staff.