Obstacles to communication in children with cri du chat syndrome

Jordan M. Virbalas, Gina Palma, Melin Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cri du chat syndrome (CCS) is a genetic disorder resulting from the deletion of the short arm of chromosome 5. Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of this syndrome is the congenital high-pitched cry, which frequently brings these patients to the attention of an otolaryngologist. Speech and language development in children with CCS is notable for a reduced receptive vocabulary and a profound deficit in expressive language. Currently, no clear guidelines have been established for the treatment of the speech and language difficulties exhibited by these patients. In this article, we present a case report and discuss the current literature regarding the challenges to effective communication in CCS. Methods: Case report. Case: We present a 7-year-old girl with CCS who sought help to improve her ability to communicate. The patient presented with a persistent high-pitched voice unchanged since birth and a breathy dysphonia. Findings on examination were significant for an abnormally oriented larynx with atrophic vocal folds. She continues to undertake intensive speech therapy to assist in her language development. Conclusion: CCS is a genetic disorder that universally results in profound deficits in expressive speech. Although patients with CCS commonly present with a high-pitched voice and marked laryngeal abnormalities, they are unlikely to benefit from surgical intervention. Speech and language therapy, including augmentative communication devices, may enhance effective communication and improve the quality of life of these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821.e1-821.e3
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Cri du chat
  • Speech
  • Therapy
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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