22q Deletion in the Classroom: Communication

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What You Need To Know

Speech and language development is delayed in the majority of children with 22q deletion syndrome. This may be due in part to structural differences such as a cleft palate (a hole in the roof of the mouth) or to functional difficulties (either VPI or oral apraxia).

Hypernasal speech is common (75%).

  • Excessively nasal speech due to velopharyngeal incompetence (VPI)
  • VPI is a condition in which the soft palate does not close properly and the oral cavity is not closed off completely from the nasal cavity during speech.
  • Some children with VPI experience nasal regurgitation in which food and drink comes out the nose.

Articulation disorders

  • May be compensatory
  • May be due to oral apraxia (inability to coordinate facial and lip movements) or dysarthria (weakness of oral muscles)
  • Slow vocabulary growth and difficulty in forming complex sentences is also common.

Be alert for warning signs of problems:

  • Late or missing assignments and/or unfinished work
  • Work attempted, but done incorrectly
  • Quietness in class – lack of questions
  • Difficulty retelling a story
  • Social or behavioral problems

Interventions for Communication

It is important to rule in/out developmental motor speech disorder. This includes:

  • Childhood apraxia of speech which is a motor planning problem
  • The diagnosis and the treatment of speech and language problems are challenging.

Many different factors may be involved. However, remediation has led to excellent prognosis in a large majority of cases.

  • As a result of nasal regurgitation, the child may experience more nasal infections.
  • This gap between the velum and pharynx (area in the back of the throat) may also lead to difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia.
  • It is important to remember that feeding may be a challenge for these children, and they may tire easily during mealtimes.
  • For more information on speech-language disorders, see: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/.
  • Everything You Need to Know About Communication Disorders by Anna Kucirkova of Masters In Communication.

This information is provided by GEMSS -Genetics Education Materials for School Success: The New England Genetics Collaborative is funded by Cooperative Agreement No. U22MC10980 between the University of New Hampshire and the Health Resources and Services Administration/ Maternal and Child Health Bureau/DSCSHN Genetic Services Branch.  To vistit the GEMMS website CLICK HERE

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