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Apraxia

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder, often referred to as developmental apraxia, verbal apraxia, or speech apraxia.  Apraxia (CAS)  is characterized by deficits in the ability to plan, coordinate, and sequence motor movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue in order to produce speech sounds.  Apraxia (CAS) affects a child's ability to produce speech sounds, syllables, words, and sentences.  Speech sound errors increase as words/phrases become more complex.  Children with apraxia know what they want to say, but their brain has difficulty planning and coordinating the correct movements in order to produce their thoughts.  As a child becomes aware that their speech is not understood by others, frustration may occur. 

Red Flags of Apraxia
  • Limited use of vowels and/or consonants
  • Difficulty imitating what another person says
  • Inconsistent, variable products of sounds and words (they say it once and you don't hear it again)
  • Omission of syllables or parts of words
  • Intelligibility is drastically affected by speech sound errors
  • Understands language much better than he/she uses it
  • Groping may occur (mouth opens, but no sound comes out)

 

If you have concerns that your child may have Apraxia, contact a licensed speech therapist to set up an evaluation.  A speech therapist can help determine the root cause of the speech sound delays.  Recommendations will be made based on the findings of the speech-language evaluation. 

 

Children with Apraxia may have other deficits affecting their speech and communication skills.  Motor planning deficits and/or Dyspraxia may co-exist with Apraxia.  Children may exhibit delays in their gross motor skill development, have difficulty with play schemes, problem solving, and may also exhibit emotional variability/sensitivity.  If any of these deficits co-exist with apraxia, it is recommended your child receive a physical and/or occupational therapy evaluation.  In our experience, children with motor speech disorders make quicker progress when other motor areas are addressed simultaneously. 

Treatment

As Apraxia is a motor based deficit, one of the most important treatment strategies is REPETITION. Therefore, it is very important for families to be an active part of their child's therapy and be able to incorporate strategies into their daily routines. Apraxia can impact many areas of your child's development, such as motor skills, safety awareness, speech and language skills, social skills, and academic skills.

Below are some strategies that you may incorporate into your daily activities to facilitate progress:

  • Break down tasks into smaller tasks; seeing/hearing the 'big' task may appear overwhelming
  • Incorporate imitation activities
  • Incorporate multi-sensory activities (for example, when teaching the concepts over/under, it may help your child to physically go over and under objects to grasp these concepts)
  • Use of rhythm can assist with timing of speech and motor movements (songs, familiar rhymes, making up your own rhythm/rhyme to assist with a new skill)
  • Encourage new play schemes; getting your child to play with the same toy in a variety of ways
  • Encourage assistance with familiar repetitive activities (helping set the table for dinner, independently getting ready for the day, etc.)
  • Use simple language, and be consistent in the language that you use when teaching tasks
  • Introduce visual schedules when needed
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