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Advocating for the Child: The Role of Pediatric Psychology for Children With Cleft Lip and/or Palate

Zulauf, Courtney, MA; Spinelli, Tawny, BA; Rosenberg, Janine, PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSN.0000000000000232
Departments: Pediatric Department

Children with cleft lip and/or palate (CL ± P) undergo several surgical procedures from birth to adulthood to achieve functional, aesthetic, and psychosocial normalcy. Although children with CL ± P have normal physical development apart from their CL ± P, they face increased risk for emotional, social, behavioral, and academic concerns. In this article, we discuss how the psychology team helps support children with CL ± P and their families. We also explore how the child's overall functioning is evaluated through interview and assessment tools. Throughout, we validate the need for specialized considerations related to having a CL ± P such as increased risk for peer victimization as well as readiness for medical and surgical procedures. By examining the psychology team's role across a child's lifespan, we hope to show that our goal is to advocate for the child and to encompass the child's voice throughout the treatment process.

Courtney Zulauf, MA, is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, Psychology Department, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Tawny Spinelli, BA, is a graduate student in the clinical psychology JD/PhD program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

Janine Rosenberg, PhD, is pediatric psychiatrist at UI Health, Departments of Surgery and Psychiatry, University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System, Chicago.

Address correspondence to Courtney Zulauf, MA, Psychology Department, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 W Harrison St, M/C 285, Chicago, IL 60607 (e-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2018 by American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses