Exactly one year after sharing her story about her cleft-lip corrective surgery, 23-year-old Eunice Ajetoro is celebrating how much her speech has significantly improved. She can pronounce more words and freely relish more food as the cravings trickle in.
“Life has been so positive for me after the surgery and ongoing speech therapy,” she gushed. “I have been free from the mockery from people around me, loved by a lot of friends and family, too.”
Ajetoro is a student of Dental Nurse at POGIL College of Health, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. She emphasised the role of verbal communication with fellow students, friends, patients, and more in navigating life.
For her, it isn’t only the handful of caring friends and families that have contributed to her confident smiles, but also the new words she dispenses now thanks to speech therapy.
“My speech therapy has been a great opportunity for me to gain a lot of my words back. It has improved my speech,” says Ajetoro.
The dental nurse had her cleft-lip surgery for free as an infant courtesy of Smile Train. Smile Train is a nonprofit organisation and charity providing free corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates since 1999.
According to research, while cleft lip and palate are birth defects that can affect a child’s ability to speak, speech-language therapy can help them learn how to speak properly.
The treatment pathway for children with a cleft includes speech and language assessments to ensure that any speech issues are identified and managed early on.
Today, Ajetoro is living in the moment of trying new words thanks to speech therapy. “I’m having my speech therapy at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). Now I can pronounce the letters B, N, R, and W. I’m so excited,” she expressed with delight.
And if there’s anything Ajetoro doesn’t compromise on, “It is food,” she giggled. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “I can eat fufu (a West African doughlike cassava staple) now and anything that has plenty of water like garri now. Before the speech therapy, I could not eat it.”
With articulation therapy from qualified speech therapists at LUTH for two years, Ajetoro is ready to rock her world and smile brightly.