Resonance Disorders


What is a Resonance Disorder?

A resonance disorder is characterized by too little or too much sound coming through the nose. They can be a result of structural or functional causes, and have several types:

  • Hypernasality: Occurs when there is sound energy in the nasal cavity during speech, making it sound like the person is talking through their nose.
  • Hyponasality: Occurs when there is not enough nasal resonance on nasal sounds due to a blockage in the nasopharynx or nasal cavity, making it sound like the person's voice is 'plugged up'.
  • Cul-de-sac resonance: Occurs when sound resonates in a cavity (oral, nasal, or pharyngeal) but is “trapped” and cannot exit because of an obstruction. This results in making it sound like a person's voice is muffled and mumbling.

Cleft palate is the most common condition associated with resonance disorders, though there are other factors such as genetic symptoms, hearing loss, and structural problems with the soft palate.

Cleft Palate

Cleft palate is characterized by openings or splits in the roof of the palate. They are a result of facial structures that do not close completely in a developing baby. Cleft palate are among the most common birth defects, and can either be an overt palatal cleft (visibly open and easily identified) or a submucous cleft palate (cleft is not clearly visible and obvious).


Cleft palate can be treated via surgery to repair the clefts, and combined with speech therapy to learn control of the repaired soft palate. Treatment strategies are individualized and often involves creating goals and addressing them with clients. There are a variety of approaches and strategies. Particular strategies may not be appropriate for everyone, and strategies can change over time to suit needs.

Treatments are tailored to each individual, and aims to improve the intelligibility and comprehensibility of those affected. Therapy may include regular and frequent one-on-one therapy sessions with speech language pathologists, and group settings where clients can practice communication skills in realistic scenarios.