Earthspeak is a nonprofit organization that works to build an infrastructure for parent speech-training programs in countries where speech therapy for children with repaired cleft palates is difficult or impossible to find. This involves training local professionals as well as parents and children.
For children born with a cleft palate condition (approximately 1/750 births), surgery is only the beginning. If surgery has been delayed past 3 – 4 years of age, a child will have established poor speech habits. Even after surgical revision the habits are maintained if the child does not receive speech therapy. Unable to communicate, often shunned even by their own families, millions of children and adults wait without hope, forced to sit on the sidelines in their cultures and communities.
Earthspeak is engaged in building parent speech-training programs that complete the job that cleft palate surgery begins. They train local professionals, parents and other lay people to become the speech teachers their children need. Earthspeak has spent 22 years perfecting a unique speech teaching method called CORRECTIVE BABBLING®. This method gives children with a repaired cleft palate a second chance at normal oral communication, and has been demonstrated to be effective also with dyspraxic and deaf children.
Parent-and-child teams attend Earthspeak-financed, week-long “speech camps,” where parents are taught how to follow a step-by-step program outlined for them in a training manual in their native language. Most teams complete the program successfully in from four to nine months.
Kathi Hoffer, a Southtowne Rotarian and a speech pathologist, has worked with Earthspeak since 2004, and is a certified Master Trainer. She piloted a Rotaplast/Earthspeak project in Oaxaca, Mexico, that trained over 70 parent/child teams, and 12 local professionals. She continues to work with a new project in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which includes both children with cleft palate and children who are deaf.
Contact Kathi Hoffer for more information on how to get involved.