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Early Intervention for Children With Cleft Palate

Scherer, Nancy J. PhD; Kaiser, Ann P.

doi: 10.1097/01.IYC.0000290358.62664.8f

Clefts of the lip and palate are one of the most frequently occurring birth defects, affecting approximately 1 in 700 births in the United States. Early childhood special educators are often among the first professionals to provide intervention for children with cleft lip and palate. Early intervention for children with clefts often focuses on speech production skills; however, results of recent research suggest that early intervention in language skills including parent training is warranted. A model of early intervention that uses language intervention to facilitate vocabulary and speech sound development is described. This model has been successful in improving productive vocabulary use and speech sound repertoires and shows promising reduction in compensatory articulation errors. Developmentally appropriate application of the model includes provision of direct intervention to children and parent training to promote naturalistic intervention in everyday settings. Strategies for working collaboratively with speech-language pathologists and members of cleft palate and craniofacial multidisciplinary teams are also described. Finally, answers are provided to frequently occurring questions from parents about cleft palate.

East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee (Dr Scherer); Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (Dr Kaiser).

Corresponding Author: Nancy J. Scherer, PhD, Box 70643, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614 (

This project was supported in part by grant number DC 002301 from the National Institute for Disorders of Communication.

©2007Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.