Speech Apraxia is a type of motor speech disorder that can be caused by neurological damage, genetic disorders, metabolic disorders or seizure disorders. When a child has apraxia, his/her brain has difficulty coordinating movements of the mouth to produce speech. The child often struggles with sequencing and “gropes” to articulate sounds, syllables, and words which results in impaired clarity.
Speech Apraxia is also referred to as childhood apraxia of speech (CAOS), speech dyspraxia, developmental apraxia of speech, developmental verbal apraxia, or verbal dyspraxia.
Signs and Symptoms of Apraxia
Not all children with apraxia will exhibit the same types of signs or symptoms, and symptoms vary from mild to profound. The most commonly seen symptoms include late talking, articulatory groping, inconsistent errors, clearer imitated speech than spontaneous, impaired prosody (reduced rate, monotone, stress errors), more difficulty with multisyllabic words and longer utterances, reduced intelligibility around unfamiliar listeners.
Treatment for Speech Apraxia
A speech and language evaluation by a certified Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) will help determine if your child does have apraxia and an appropriate course of treatment. With treatment, the child can likely become an intelligible speaker and effective communicator with a high self-confidence. Due to the fact that apraxia can manifest itself differently in every child, each therapist can use a variety of techniques in therapy to achieve maximum results. Research indicates that children with apraxia benefit most from receiving frequent treatment sessions. The SLP may also suggest alternative means of communication such as sign language or augmentative communication systems to give the child a way to express himself/herself with less frustration. Often, these alternative means of communication can be discontinued once speech begins to improve.
Treatment outcomes depend on the severity level, co-occurring issues (i.e., delayed language development, difficulties with fine motor movements, or sensory), motivation of the child and family commitment. The SLP often outlines a home program for activities to be practiced in between therapy sessions. It is important that the child consistently practices to increase his/her potential for improvement. The caregiver is encouraged to make practicing fun and rewarding while being creative in ideas to practice communication in a supportive environment. Generally, the child with apraxia can make some level of progress and attain certain levels of intelligible speech and effective communication.
Written by Maria E. Toth, MS, CCC-SLP
Toth Speech Services, LLC
(561) 400-1931 phone
Mrs. Toth is a state certified Speech Language Pathologist with over 13 years of clinical experience, based in Lake Worth, FL.