Speech Services


Like all children, those born with cleft lip and/or palate begin learning about speech from the very first day of life. They probably make sounds similar to those made by most babies. However, the development of normal speech habits can be affected by cleft lip and/or palate since we use those body parts to form sounds. Cleft speech may be difficult to understand because of one or more of the following communication problems:

  • Language Delay
  • Articulation Problems
  • Hypernasality
  • Nasal Air Emission
  • Compensatory Articulation Errors
  • Voice Problems

Early surgical repair usually provides a much-improved mechanism for speech. As children with cleft lip and/or palate grow, the development of speech and communication skills should be followed closely by a trained speech professional. Even after cleft palate repair, children may need specialized therapy in order to correct their speech. They may also need a second palate surgery to ensure that their palatal structures and muscles are in place for proper speech. The following links offer more information about understanding cleft palate speech:

Speech Language Pathologist

A Speech-Language Pathologist, often referred to as a Speech Therapist, is a specially-trained healthcare professional that provides speech and language services in a medical setting, school setting, private clinic, or home-based intervention program. Typical goals of the therapy are to (1) establish correct articulatory placement; (2) maximize oral pressure for the pressure consonant sounds (plosives, fricatives, and affricates); and (3) maximize oral-pharyngeal articulatory function. The overall goal of therapy is to have the child achieve normal speech and communication for their age and developmental level.


Mobile Speech Services

Smile Train has developed a free, interactive speech services app with stories, games, and songs for children with clefts. This fun app encourages children to practice more often from the comfort of their own home for better speech outcomes. Available in English and Spanish for free in Google Play and Apple App Store. Try the app on your device today!

Try Our Speech App



Caregivers play an important role in a child’s speech and language development. Children will need encouragement and positive feedback when participating in treatment sessions and reinforcement when practicing in their everyday environment. It is important to work with a children’s speech development professional to cultivate a speech program that can be practiced at home. The following resources help caregivers understand their role and also practice speech at home.



Bruna knew her son, who was born with a cleft, would be in good hands with Smile Train partner because her cleft surgery was performed there, too.

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Fernanda, who loves life on her family’s farm, received cleft lip and palate surgeries and speech therapy from Smile Train.

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With her improved speech and confidence, Neha has risen to the very top of her class, thanks to Smile Train surgeries and speech therapy.

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is meant to be helpful to you for informational purposes only. The information contained here should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a medical professional with any questions you might have. Although we attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no guarantee to that effect and are not responsible for the content of these resources.