Velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI), or the inability to effectively seal the nose from the mouth when speaking, results in loss of resonant control of speech and, in some cases, a loss of optimal intraoral pressure to achieve orally directed speech sounds. Given that the nasopharynx is effectively closed during the vast majority of speech, this can significantly impact speech intelligibility. Children with VPI often speak in a very nasal tone, such that certain sounds cause air to leak from the nose, making the words hard to understand.
VPI occurs for a variety of reasons, from residual speech patterns after cleft palate repair to irregularities of the soft palate that children are born with. Because of this wide range of causes, approaches to assessment and intervention may vary and often must be tailored to the individual child.
Children who suffer from voice disorders experience much difficulty in communicating with the world around them. Even mild cases of VPI can alter a child’s ability to effectively communicate.