Will’s Words

Alyssa KirkmanFamily Stories, School-Aged Child

Will Thompson-1“You’re going to have a boy!” Then in the next breath, “Please wait a moment, the doctor will be right in to speak with you.”  Those were the words my Mom and Dad heard the first time they saw me on ultrasound.  I was born with a 15mm-wide bilateral cleft lip and palate.  I am now almost 13 years old.  I feel like I am living a normal life and my cleft lip and palate are just part of it.

My cleft lip and palate do not define who I am but I do believe it helped make me who I am today. My differences are noticed and occasionally asked about. This doesn’t bother me.  I feel that it is just mostly curiosity from kids my age or younger.  Once I tell them, “I have had surgery on my mouth,” they move on and it usually never comes up again.

Will Thompson-2My 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