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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
Depending on the severity of the CAS, a child’s ability to effectively communicate thoughts and ideas may be affected.
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.
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Sara Rohde, OTR/L, manager, Courage Kenny Kids
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