Friday, May 09, 2008

Cleft Speak - or - What I Wish I'd Known

Micah had his first evaluation by the speech pathologist. We went to visit him in his little speech lab. He walks in and says to Micah, "Hi, I'm Jay." I immediately love this guy! Micah? Not so much. He breaks into full meltdown mode. LOL

During the evaluation, Dr. Riski tells us what smart parents we are and how much we're teaching him. "Are you sure you're rookies?" he asks. We're beaming with pride at our success. Then he gives us the punchline. "You've got the perfect recipe for Cleft Speak. A smart child and two motivated parents." A backhanded compliment to be sure.

He told us that Micah is completely unable to make many of the sounds in the English language. But because he's a smart child he will figure out a way to accommodate and say the sound anyways. We have been so excited as Micah added new sounds. But with each new sounds comes a new bad habit that will have to be unlearned when his palate is closed. Who knew???

The doctor gave us some exercises to help Micah to learn better speech habits for the future. He is able to make many sounds correctly by plugging his nose so air comes out his mouth. We are practicing b's, p's and s's this way. He is also learning to blow on a whistle with his nose plugged. Yesterday we blew bubbles, again by plugging his nose.

There are some sounds that he is unable to make, even with his nose plugged. K's and g's are a couple. We're to avoid teaching him new words with these sounds. What do you tell a boy who loves Mickey Mouse? Another bad habit is saying "oh oh." Now Mama and Baba are trying to break that habit too.

I wish I'd know that going in. I'm not sure how much it would have changed what we did, but it would have been nice to know. Many children with open palates don't talk a lot so it's not an issue. But Micah talks non-stop. I'm posting here so others who find themselves with a highly verbal child with an open palate can be prepared.


amy said...

Once again I love the new blog.

NExt, thanks for this post. I love your honesty and glad your learned a few things. Looking forward to reading more!

Jen & Bill said...

we have the non talkative cleft child. good in a way bad in another way. I try to get him to say M's. Of course he can say that it doesn't involve the palate. We get to the p's and b's and he gets mad and lays down.

Donna said...

I had no idea about any of that! Lainey is virtually non-verbal...she can say "uma" and "mamama" (no meaning attached), and sometimes "oh" and "oooh". Why is it bad to say "oh oh"?? She's been in speech for about a month, and is making sllllow progress, just cooperating and trying to imitate mouth shapes. Her surgery should be in June, how about Micah?? Give him a kiss from us!