Another little reminder that this week is Cleft Lip & Palate Awareness Week @clapacommunity ✌🏻 Children with a cleft have lots of medical appointments throughout their lives. On average, they miss three times as many days off school for medical reasons (such as attending cleft clinics, dental appointments, or speech and language therapy), compared to their classmates. Children with a cleft are also twice as likely to be classified as "persistent absentees" by their school (receiving warning letters, or missing out on 100% attendance awards), even if these absences are for essential appointments they can't change, and have been authorised. As we start to think about deciding on a school for Stanley, perhaps the schools stance on attendance will be one of the factors that influences our decision. Schools can be a big help for children with a cleft, not only in adapting their attendance reward policy, but in helping with issues around appearance and self-esteem. Teachers can take extra care to look out for comments from other children, support children who wish to explain to the rest of the class why they may look different. Doing something as straightforward as a self-portrait in school could bring up issues to do with their cleft or appearance, and therefore should be handled sensitively. There's also speech problems associated with having a cleft, which could cause problems in music lessons (especially with wind instruments), languages (being unable to physically pronounce certain sounds), and reading out loud. Sounding different could make them feel self-conscious, and they may even avoid talking. There is also the possibility of recurring hearing problems associated with having a cleft, which at first could appear to teachers as though they are not paying attention. Awareness and education are key to understanding cleft lip and palate, which is why awareness week is so important. For us right now, school is the next big decision we have to make for Stanley. There is so much to think about when it comes to school, and so much to worry about, but there is so much help and support provided by @clapacommunity πŸ’›

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