My parents have always treated me like my brothers and sisters and allowed me to do the same things as other kids. My mom does cringe when I am playing basketball and the ball goes near my face though! I absolutely love reading and math. My mom was told when I was a baby to read to me all the time and it would help with my speech. I have never had to have speech therapy and I am very grateful! I love to talk and I have a large vocabulary! I love school and learning new things. I made all A’s for my entire 6th grade year!
My mom and I helped with the “Feeding Your Baby” video by CPF when I was 18 months old. My mom had a hard time figuring out how to feed me and there were few resources available on the unit I was born on so the Cleft Palate Foundation was a huge help for us! My parents attended a “Connections Conference” when I was 6 weeks old and learned a ton about how to navigate the world of craniofacial issues. I am grateful for organizations such as the Cleft Palate Foundation that help us with free information that is available 24/7.
I have found that my craniofacial birth defect has given me a bigger heart for others with differences. I feel like I am more aware of and sensitive to other kids’ feelings and issues that they may be facing because of my personal experiences. If I had to give one piece of advice to a parent with a child that has cleft lip and palate, I would say, “Treat them just like any other child.” And if I had to give advice to a child with a cleft lip and palate I would say, “It doesn’t matter what you look like, just be kind, and be yourself.”
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story!
~William “Will” Thompson