Name: Adam LaRosa - Age 5
School: Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School - Kindergarten
Accomplishments: Adam was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate on his right side; birth defects which affect the lip and the roof of the mouth. When Adam was born, he wore a NAM, which is a device that pulls the two edges of the cleft together over the course of several weeks, prior to surgical repair. At two and a half months old, Adam had a six hour surgery to repair his lip, nose, gum and hard palate.
Post-surgery, he had to wear arm restraints for four weeks to prevent him from touching his mouth and face. At two years old, he faced another surgery to close his soft palate, however this surgery was unsuccessful, as the soft palate reopened after two days. He again had to wear arm restraints for eight weeks to give his mouth time to heal. The scar tissue that formed from that surgery did close most of the his hard palate but not enough for sufficient speech production.
After a year and a half of speech therapy, LaRosa faced yet another surgery, as his soft palate wasn't big enough to prevent air from escaping therefore making sound production difficult. This surgical procedure, called a pharyngeal flap, involved a flap of skin that had to be placed in the back of his throat to prevent air from escaping. He continues with speech therapy three times a week and is having a custom mold palate made that will be cemented to his hard palate and will attach to anterior pull headgear, which will have to wear every second that he is not in school for a period of 6 to 8 months. The goal of this device is to help with speech sounds as well as relieving the sleep apnea that he has as a result of the pharyngeal flap surgery.
Many children with cleft lip and palates have chronic ear infections due to fluid drainage from the problems with the soft palate. Adam has had ear tubes put in twice and has a slight hearing loss as a result and he may require a future surgery to repair a hole in his eardrum. Around age eight, Adam will require a bone graft in his upper jaw which will strengthen his bone so his jaw will be strong enough to support his teeth.
Despite all that Adam has dealt with, he is a healthy and well adjusted little boy who his parents describe as being happy, confident, loud, fun-loving and compassionate. He likes to dance, attends gymnastics and enjoys cheering for the Yankees and the Jets and spending time with his older brother, Justin, and younger brother, Jared.
Adam's parents support Smile Train, which is an organization that provides free cleft palate surgery to hundreds of thousands of poor children in developing countries.