Leah was born with Down Syndrome. And it was a surprise to her parents. All they want is for her to be happy, but she really struggled to eat as a baby. Leah could nurse, but bottles didn’t work and a pacifier was never comforting. Imagine not being able to use a ba-ba, paci, binky, or wubby!
Leah would also spit up through her nose. An unusual exit for spit up for most parents. Mom met with every therapist and feeding specialist she could, but no one was able to help. Spoiler alert! These are symptoms of a cleft palate. Unfortunately, doctors didn’t recognize that she had a cleft. Our feeding specialist would have certainly been able to help.
Plot twist: Leah had other medical issues and her doctor recommended she have her tonsils and adenoids removed before she was three years-old. During Leah’s surgery, she was diagnosed with a submucous cleft palate, a harder to diagnose cleft because it is in the muscle. Hallelujah! The answer to so many questions! LCPC was immediately recommended.
Leah came to the clinic for her first Team visit right away. Mom says, “At 3, Leah was not easy but everyone [at the Clinic] was welcoming, kind, and patient. Everyone was just wonderful and Leah fell in love with everybody.”
Our care Team went into action! Leah had speech therapy three times a week for 4 years, got fitted for hearing aids, had surgery to repair her cleft at 11 years-old, and just had her braces removed. Leah says, “No more metal mouth!” And is excited to get her senior pictures without braces. Regular Team visits when she meets with her entire care team make all this possible.
Today, Leah says “I love all my friends at the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic.” And every time she drives by Hershey Medical Center where she had her surgery, she says, “Where’s Dr. Samson? That’s where I had my surgery!” Next year, Leah is looking forward to being an Aid in the preschool at her high school because she loves kids and babies. Her ability to be understood by others is all because of our care. And our care inspired her older sister to study speech therapy in college!