Miss Jennie {speech & clefts}

Over the last year, I’ve made several comments about things my youngest says to us. Many of you showed surprise she is talking while others have asked if she is still in speech. I thought I would give you a little update on speech as it relates to cleft lip and palate.

When it comes to cleft lip/palate and surgeries every case is unique. Some go through 20+ surgeries during the first 20 years of life. Others endure less than 5 surgeries. It depends on the cleft and the surgeon. Our daughter has had three surgeries and will continue to have more as she grows and her anatomy changes.

The first two surgeries closed her cleft lip and palate. Her third surgery was necessary for speech.

4.16speech-01Speech has been a long road for our girl and it will continue to be a weekly part of her routine for years, most likely. She has gone to 4 different speech-language pathologists before we found Miss Jennie. We tried going to speech centers and a local university. Both had wonderful therapists, but she wouldn’t talk much at all and it felt like a waste of time and energy. Enter Miss Jennie – our hero. She comes to our house twice a week and meets with our little fireball in the comfort and familiarity of our home.

4.16speech-02A year ago, our girl was only saying 2-4 word sentences. She understood everything we said, but was unable to get all the words in her head out. It caused so much frustration on her part and ours. Imagine knowing what you want to say, but being unable to say it. There were lots of tears and tantrum throwing.

Today, she doesn’t stop talking. Aside from clear pronunciation, she is on the same level as any other nearly-5 year-old. There are no limits to the length of her sentences or struggles in communicating. As I am writing this she is in the other room singing.

4.16speech-03One year – a complete and total transformation. A year ago, I felt defeated and a little hopeless. I was worried about her with her peers because they would often stop playing with her when she couldn’t communicate with them. It was hard to imagine that she would ever be able to communicate on level with her peers.

She still struggles to pronounce a lot of sounds correctly. She meets with Miss Jennie twice a week and has a significant amount of progress left to make. However, she is a talker…a non-stop singing, talking 5-year-old fireball. She keeps Miss Jennie on her toes!

The most significant impact on her speech development has been her speech-language pathologist. Miss Jennie.

4.16speech-04Jennie was exactly what our daughter needed to be able to get all that was going on inside her head out for the rest of us to hear.

As her mom, there was only so far I could go in regards to helping her with speech. We needed (and still need) help. I’m so grateful for Jennie. I’m grateful she pursued her gifts and talents in the realm of speech pathology and she shares those with us.

Jennie puts up with the random chaos of our house and lets me greet her still in my workout clothes and ponytail from the morning. Nearly every time she comes over, there is an extra kid or two running around the yard and often another adult stopping by. She has a front row seat to the messy of our family and she keeps coming back. Twice a week. My daughter calls Jennie her best friend….and is currently anxiously waiting for me to print one of these photos, so she can hang it on her wall.

4.16speech-05Thank you Jennie for loving our girl.

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