You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.
This one is about: How to Explain Why They Sound Different
(c) 1996 Wide Smiles
This Document is from WideSmiles Website - www.widesmiles.org
Reprint in whole or in part, with out written permission from Wide Smiles
is prohibited. Email: email@example.com
Example on How to Explain to Other Kids Why Cleft Affected Kids Sound Different
While I'm at it, I'm new here and am wondering how to respond to children's comments about my daughter's speech. She came here in Oct. 92 from Thailand, and at first most everyone thought they couldn't understand her because of the language difference. However, as she mastered English, it was obvious that something else was going on. I know kids don't mean to be cruel, but just the other day, a playmate asked why her brother (who's also Thai) didn't sound "funny." Yikes - I tried to sound calm as I explained that Kalaya's cleft had a lot to do with it. I didn't know if it was appropriate to try to explain neurological damage and apraxia when I barely understand it myself. Again, I know there was no malice, but I have been lucky not to hear a lot of these comments--however, I'm sure my daughter hears them all the time. Any advice?
Someone shared this with me once, when talking to a class about cleft palate. She gave all the kids some salt-water taffy and told them to chew it, but don't swallow it. Then she told them to all push the taffy up into the roof of their mouths with their tongue. Then, without swallowing the taffy, recite the pledge of allegiance.
Of course the kids couldn't do it without great difficulty. And she explained that when there is something different about the inside of the mouth, the sounds come out differently. And that may be why a child with cleft may sound different. "Did you forget how to say the Pledge of Allegiance because there was taffy in your mouth? No? Of course not. It was just harder for you to make the sounds. Kids with clefts also know what they want to say, but it may be harder for them to make the sounds. You can be a good friend by listening a little closer and understanding that your
friend has a lot of good things to say, but it may be just a little different learning how to say them."
I thought it was inspired!