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Why Your Team Visit Includes a Speech Pathologist

An evaluation with the speech pathologist (SLP) is often a routine part of your child’s visit to the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic. At Riley at IU Health, we feel that your child’s speech is one of the most important outcomes from your child’s cleft and/or craniofacial care.

Not surprisingly, when you see an SLP, most of the visit with your child is spent talking. We love getting to know your children from our conversations together, but there’s also a method to the things we ask your child to say or do. Your child may be asked a variety of questions and asked to repeat different words and sentences. Those words and sentences have been specifically designed to evaluate three things:

  • First, we are evaluating articulation. Articulation means how your child uses his tongue, teeth or lips to make different speech sounds. Does his /t/ sound like a /t/ or does he substitute a /k/? An example would be saying “koo” for “too.”
  • Second, we are evaluating resonance. Resonance refers to the balance of air that is supposed to come out of our nose and out of our mouth when we talk. Your SLP wants to make sure that your child does not talk too much or too little “out of his nose.”
  • Finally, we are listening for nasal air emission. This means that sometimes you can actually hear air come out the nose when it is not supposed to.

These three things are important because they tell your SLP how well the muscles of your child’s palate and throat work for talking. They help us decide what speech errors can be fixed in speech therapy and what errors might need more medical help

Your SLP’s in the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic have been specially trained to assess and treat children with cleft palate or a craniofacial anomaly who may need help with their speech. After the visit with your child, your SLP works closely with your plastic surgeon, orthodontist, and/or oral surgeon to determine what further medical needs your child might require.

Angela Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP

Author of this Article

Angela J. Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist with the Department of Audiology and Speech/Language Pathology at the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic in Riley at IU Health. Angela is trained in the use of Nasal Endoscopy to evaluate cleft and non-cleft patients for velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI). She also performs speech exams and feeding studies. She is active in the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and with Camp About Face as a mentor.

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