At Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center, we care for your whole child. We don’t just treat their medical condition.
Fifty specialists work together to diagnose and care for children from birth until age 21. Our supportive care experts range from child life specialists to nutritionists to physical therapists. Your child will get care for their physical, emotional and comfort needs.
Child life specialists
Child life specialists focus on your child’s emotional and developmental needs. We work directly with you and your child so you can feel more in control about your medical experience. We help your child and family members express concerns and ease their fears.
Music, art and animal visits are some of the ways we help. We have playrooms for children staying in the hospital or visiting a clinic. Their siblings are welcome, too. For those 12 and older – including family members – the Teen Zone has video games, computers and arts and crafts.
Read more about child life specialists at Seattle Children’s.
Emotional and psychological care
Children who have a serious condition or who are getting major treatment may also have mental health concerns. These may be caused by your child’s condition or treatment or the stress of having a health problem.
Whatever the cause, our team helps your child work through their feelings and emotions and learn coping skills. Your child’s care team will include a social worker and, if needed, a pediatric psychologist. Both are specially trained to help children and teens deal with serious health conditions.
We offer practical information learned from working with many other families. Together with your family, we:
- Help figure out how the condition is affecting your child and family life and provide guidance
- Support you when you are making decisions about your child’s treatment
- Help you and your child prepare for surgery or a hospital stay
Learn more about Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Seattle Children’s.
Feeding management and nutrition
Some craniofacial conditions change how the jaws and mouth work. Children and teens with these conditions sometimes have challenges with eating and growing at a healthy rate.
The Craniofacial Feeding Management team helps solve these problems. We help your child meet their nutritional needs so they gain weight and thrive.
Our services include teaching parents new ways to feed their baby and using video X-rays to understand what happens when a baby is eating. We help children with cleft lip and palate, small jaws, airway problems and other conditions that affect feeding.
Our team includes craniofacial pediatricians, nurses, infant feeding specialists, dietitians and speech language pathologists. An infant feeding specialist may be an occupational therapist or physical therapist.
Genetic testing and counseling
Some craniofacial conditions are caused by a change (mutation) in a gene or chromosome (the structures in our cells that hold the genes).
At the Craniofacial Genetics Clinic, we:
- Work to diagnose specific genetic conditions
- Help parents understand how the condition is passed on
- Explain the pros and cons of genetic testing
- Talk about how your child’s genetic diagnosis affects their medical issues
- Help you find resources in your community
- Talk to teens and young adults with genetic conditions about the chance of passing the condition on to any children they may have
Seattle Children’s is a leader in treating pain in babies, children and teens. We base our recommendations for your child on evidence about what works. We partner with you and your child to prevent and relieve pain as completely as possible.
Managing your child’s pain is critical to their healing. That’s why we use pain medicines made especially for children. We use different types of anesthesia and alternatives like acupuncture when those methods will help your child.
Learn more about Seattle Children’s Pain Medicine Program.
Any family whose child has a serious, possibly life-threatening illness may benefit from working with the Palliative Care Program.
Palliative care helps relieve the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. It enhances your child’s quality of life through:
- Pain and symptom control
- Emotional support
- Better communication
Learn more about the Palliative Care Program at Seattle Children’s.
Physical and occupational therapy
Through play and exercise, our physical therapists (PTs) help your child build strength, balance and coordination. Physical therapy can also help reduce pain. Our skills and specially sized equipment help us work with patients from the very smallest babies to young adults.
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people learn how to do the tasks of daily life, when a health problem affects abilities like eating. Seattle Children’s has the largest group of OTs in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to working with babies, children and teens.
Some expectant parents know their baby has a craniofacial condition because an ultrasound during pregnancy shows a cleft lip and palate or other condition. Sometimes genetic testing during pregnancy shows their baby has a genetic disorder.
Before your baby is born, our prenatal counseling team can talk with you about your baby’s health condition and the care they are likely to need. This can help you prepare for their birth and make informed decisions. Many parents find it helps to have accurate, up-to-date information.
Our social workers help throughout your child’s care. We have skilled counselors who provide support and information about your child’s diagnosis and the impact a craniofacial condition may have on your family.
Social workers can help you make connections with other families and find community resources. We work closely with psychologists and child life specialists.
Learn more about social work services at Seattle Children’s.
We regularly check your child’s speech ability and how their language is developing.
Some children with craniofacial conditions like cleft lip and palate have trouble making correct speech sounds. Often, speech therapy helps them develop more normal speech patterns.
Your child’s doctor and speech and language pathologist (SLP) will work together to recommend what is best for your child.
Find out about Speech and Language Services at Seattle Children’s.
To make an appointment, you can call us directly or get a referral from your child’s primary care provider. We encourage you to coordinate with your pediatrician or family doctor when coming to Seattle Children’s.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.