Cleveland speech therapy

Cleveland Speech Therapy for Kids With Deletion Syndrome

As providers of Cleveland speech therapy, our team at Therapy & Wellness Connection treats children with a broad range of speech-language delays and disorders. One condition that is common – but often underrecognized – and correlated with impaired language development and poor speech intelligibility is called deletion syndrome.

Deletion syndrome, also known as DiGeorge Syndrome or (more technically) 22q11.2, occurs in about 1 in 990 pregnancies and 1 in 2,150 births. Many doctors think that might actually be a very conservative estimate given the fact that its features are so variable. It’s the most common of chromosomal microdeletions.

There are many types and ranges of severity with deletion syndrome, and it can impact different body systems to varying extents. As noted by the Mayo Clinic, it can sometimes be diagnosed at birth. However, some indicators aren’t obvious until the child is older.

Among the signs and symptoms of the condition that can directly contribute to speech and language difficulties:

  • Facial features that may include an underdeveloped chin or narrow groove in the upper lip.
  • Delayed growth and developmental milestones.
  • Palate problems, such as a gap in the roof of the mouth, also known as a cleft palate.
  • Learning, behavioral, social, and mental health problems (stemming from brain development issues). When they’re older, this can result in difficulties with reading, math, and problem-solving.
  • Hearing impairment.
  • Poor muscle tone.
  • Significant feeding issues. (This can result in jaw weakness that makes it tougher to form certain sounds properly.)
  • Nasally speech that can make it difficult to understand. (Usually this is the result of a submucosal cleft palate.)

Other health issues commonly associated with the condition include heart defects, thyroid issues, autoimmune disorders (often leading to issues with recurrent infections), vision trouble, skeletal differences (usually short stature and/or spinal abnormalities) and breathing difficulties. They’re also more likely than kids without this condition to be diagnosed with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

A child with deletion syndrome can have a combination of any of these – making it hard for doctors to fit the pieces of the puzzle together and make an accurate diagnosis. When it is diagnosed, it may be grouped according to the cluster of symptoms. For example, there’s velocardiofacial syndrome (aka Shprintzen syndrome), conotruncal anomaly face syndrome, and Opitz G/BBB syndrome.

Our pediatric Cleveland speech therapy team understands the cause of deletion syndrome has to do with a missing copy of chromosome 22. We get one of each from our parents. When one copy is missing, this is called deletion syndrome. It’s usually random.

In a study recently published in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, most preschoolers with deletion syndrome (even those without cleft palate issues) have a broad range of language issues (expressive and receptive) and speech sound difficulties.

Early diagnosis is important where possible because it’s what opens the door to early intervention speech therapy. Research has shown that kids with deletion syndrome (and a broad range of others) make far greater strides with speech, occupational, and ABA therapies the earlier they start.

Our approach to these therapies is holistic. This means that while we’re targeting certain symptoms and goals, we’re still treating the whole child. That’s one of the benefits of choosing a multidisciplinary private clinic for kids with complex developmental delays and disabilities.

If you have questions about how our Northeast Ohio speech therapy team approaches treatment for kids with deletion syndrome, we’re happy to offer insight and a tour of our facilities.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

The Language Profile of Preschool Children With 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome and the Relationship With Speech Intelligibility, Jan. 2023, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology

More Blog Entries:

How Cleveland Speech Therapists Help Treat Preschool Language Disorders, Dec. 10, 2022, Cleveland Pediatric Speech Therapy Blog