Cleft Palate and Velopharyngeal Disorders

Cleft palate is a condition a child is born with where the hard palate in the roof of the mouth does not form properly. The cleft itself is rectified early on in a baby’s life through surgery. A cleft palate can occur in isolation or together with other medical and dental conditions.

Other palatal problems involve the soft palate at the back of the mouth which is made of muscles. This may not work properly.

Speech and Language Therapists are involved in multi-disciplinary teams and children are usually regularly reviewed by the team if they have a history of palatal problems. The amount of speech and language therapy a child may need will vary and can continue into the teenage years.


The difficulties that can arise due to problems with the palate include –

  • Speech sound difficulties
  • Language delay
  • Voice quality issues
  • Feeding difficulties


A Speech and Language Therapist can help a child with these difficulties by –

  • Assessing and monitoring speech and language skills
  • Providing regular one to one therapy
  • Provide ongoing advice and input for feeding difficulties
  • Giving therapy to help rectify any specific speech sound problems
  • Giving therapy to help develop the use and understanding of language
  • Advising parents on specific activities to continue with outside regular sessions
  • Working and liaising with the specialist team
  • Refer on if any further investigations are needed
  • Provide advice to nursery and school

Last updated: January 26th, 2018