Hello, my name is Patricia Ann Simon. I was born in 1961 with a cleft lip and palate. I am a Registered Nurse and am a patient advocate for those born with craniofacial differences.
I will be sharing my story with you. Hopefully, my story will offer you support and encourage you to become the person that you want to be-happy, healthy, and helping to create a community where it is ok to be different.
I have written four children’s books (see below) for children born with a cleft lip and/or palate. We are different and we are beautiful. Be kind to others and extend your hand to others. Look at yourself in the mirror and love what you see-every wrinkle, freckle, scar, and dimple. We are all wonders! Click "SHOP BOOKS," to purchase our books or "LEARN MORE," for more information
Smile with Simon Books
Simon's Cleft Lip and/or Palate Links
Meet Simon & Friends
Get acquainted with Simon and his friends. Characters from the books made into dolls.
We may not be the same And if we were it'd be a shame You have a voice let go and sing Open up just Spread your wings
CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH THE "SMILE WITH SIMON" VIDEO
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cleft lip and cleft palate?
A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip. The separation often includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not fuse, or join together, as the unborn baby was developing. Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one side (unilateral cleft lip and/or palate) or on both sides (bilateral cleft lip and/or palate). Because the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible for the child to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both cleft lip and cleft palate.
How common are clefts?
Cleft lip and cleft palate are the most common birth defect in the United States – one of every 600 newborns is affected by cleft lip and/or cleft palate.
What are the causes of cleft lip and palate?
No one knows exactly, but most experts agree that the causes of cleft lip and/or palate are multifactorial and may include a genetic predisposition as well as environmental issues such as drug and alcohol use, smoking, maternal illness, infections, or lack of Vitamin B, also known as folic acid. In most cases, it is not known what has caused a cleft lip and/or palate, but research is ongoing to better understand the condition.
What does it mean to be a child with an untreated cleft?
Children with untreated clefts face physical difficulties eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking. Cleft treatment alleviates many of these difficulties, ultimately enabling them to thrive.
Can clefts be treated?
Reconstructive surgery for clefts has evolved over more than half a century, and today’s techniques and procedures have come a long way. The surgery today is simple and the transformation is immediate. Patients see their smile for the first time, parents cry tears of joy, and lives and communities are changed forever.
Can cleft lip and palate be detected in ultrasound
Orofacial clefts, especially cleft lip with or without cleft palate, can be diagnosed during pregnancy by a routine ultrasound. They can also be diagnosed after the baby is born, especially cleft palate. However, sometimes certain types of cleft palate (for example, submucous cleft palate and bifid uvula) might not be diagnosed until later in life.
When to see a doctor regarding cleft lip & palate
A cleft lip and cleft palate are usually noticed at birth, and your doctor may start coordinating care at that time. If your baby has signs and symptoms of a submucous cleft palate, make an appointment with your child's doctor.
Can cleft lip and cleft palate be prevented or avoided?
The exact cause of these birth defects is unknown. So, you cannot prevent or avoid them. But there are steps you can take to lower your risk of having a baby with a birth defect. These include: - Taking folic acid before and during pregnancy. - Avoiding tobacco, drugs, and alcohol during pregnancy. - Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy and not gaining too much weight during pregnancy. - Getting vaccinations and protecting yourself from infections.
What can we expect with the proper treatment?
With treatment, most children with orofacial clefts do well and lead a healthy life. Some children with orofacial clefts may have issues with self-esteem if they are concerned with visible differences between themselves and other children. Parent-to-parent support groups can prove to be useful for families of babies with birth defects of the head and face, such as orofacial clefts.
Other issues related to children's cleft lip & palate
Children with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate or a cleft palate alone often have problems with feeding and speaking clearly and can have ear infections. They also might have hearing problems and problems with their teeth.
A portion of all book proceeds will go to our support groups.
You can make a difference! Please find a list of Simon’s favorite groups to support on our Resources Page .