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Childhood apraxia of speech

  • What is apraxia of speech?

    Apraxia of speech is a neurological speech sound disorder in children. It is often referred to as Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  

    The child has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. By definition, it is the inability to execute a voluntary movement despite being able to demonstrate normal muscle function.

    CAS is also known as verbal apraxia, dyspraxia, or developmental apraxia of speech.

    What causes CAS?

    Scientists are not sure what causes CAS. It occurs in boys more often than girls, and can be present from birth.

    Recent research suggest that CAS may occur due to a neurological impairment (i.e. stroke, infection, etc.), as association with a complex neurobehavioral disorder (i.e. genetic, metabolic), or for unknown reasons without any other underlying neurological conditions (idiopathic).

    Children with CAS often have family members with communication disorders or learning disabilities.

    How do I know if my child has CAS?

    One symptom is difficulty putting sounds and syllables together in the correct order to form words. Longer or more complex words are usually harder to say than shorter or simpler words. 

    Children with CAS tend to make inconsistent mistakes when speaking. They may say a difficult word correctly, but have trouble repeating it. They may appear to be groping for the right sound or word and try saying it several times before they say it correctly. 

    Another common characteristic of CAS is the incorrect use of “prosody,” the varying rhythms, stresses and inflections of speech that help express meaning.

    What do I do if my child has CAS?

    If you suspect your child may have CAS, contact your pediatrician to share your concerns. Your pediatrician may refer you to a speech therapist (speech-language pathologist) to evaluate your child’s speech.

    What is the prognosis for CAS?

    The prognosis of CAS in each child will depending on the severity, cause, age at intervention, response to treatment and external support system (parents, school, etc.).

    Will CAS affect my child’s performance in school?

    Depending on the severity of the CAS, a child’s ability to effectively communicate thoughts and ideas may be affected. 

    How Courage Kenny Kids can help

    In speech therapy, our clinicians use specialized techniques, structured play activities and games to address your child’s individual needs. Treatment for CAS is often more intensive in nature and focuses on repetitive speech-motor practice.

    Alternative language options may be provided to help your child communicate, such as sign language, pictures, AAC systems, or visual prompts.

    Back to Courage Kenny Kids services

  • Source: Courage Kenny Kids
    Reviewed by: Sara Rohde, OTR/L, manager, Courage Kenny Kids
    First published: 09/23/2015
    Last reviewed: 09/22/2015

  • Contact Courage Kenny Kids

    A referral is needed from your child's health care provider before therapy can begin. Once your doctor has referred you to the Courage Kenny Kids rehabilitation program, contact one of these locations.

    child working with therapist

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