Child Speech Therapy: Apraxia

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to produce speech sounds. Many speech therapists in Chicago treat children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Whether you are concerned with your child’s speech development or your child was diagnosed with CAS, it is important to be knowledgeable on the disorder, symptoms, and the treatments available.

What is Apraxia?

A child with apraxia may understand language, but are unable to perform the motor skills necessary to create sounds and words. They have problems planning out how to move their lips, mouth, tongue or jaw to make the correct sounds. Apraxia is not due to muscle weakness or paralysis. Although the cause is unknown, genetics may be a major factor.

What does it look like?
Apraxia may look differently depending on the age of the child.
A young child may have symptoms as follow:
1.     Limited babbling.
2.     Delayed onset of speech.
3.     Only a few different consonant and vowel sounds.
4.     Difficulties eating.
For older children, they may have more prominent symptoms:
1.     Makes inconsistent sound errors.
2.     Substitution of words and sounds during speech.
3.     Slower speech.
4.     Difficulty with longer words.
5.     Speech is monotone or choppy.
6.     May have difficulty with non-speech movements such as sticking out their tongue, smiling, or moving their mouth.
Treatment
Research has proven that children with Apraxia are most successful when they receive frequent speech therapy (approximately 3-5 times per week). Treatment for Apraxia may seem time consuming at first, but once the child begins to improve, therapy sessions may lessen. Therapy will focus on isolated exercises designed to “strengthen” the oral articulators of speech. Including multiple senses in therapy provides immediate feedback for the student, such as making sounds in the mirror, touching the therapist’s mouth or their own while making sounds, and hearing their sounds through a recording.  At first, therapists may recommend using an alternative communication, such as sign language, to continue to encourage communication between their child without frustration and anger. Once the speech production has improved, the child will not rely on an alternative communication as much. Speech sessions are most successful in the home of the child, in order to create a routine. Families and caregivers should incorporate the speech goals into their daily routines. It is important to be patient with you child, and understand that they are capable of becoming successful in their speech performance with persistence and patience.
If you feel your child demonstrates any of the listed symptoms, please contact Step by Step Care Group for a SLP assessment and diagnostic. Step by Step Care Group will ensure a personalized treatment plan for your child.
References:
Cartagena, Elisa. "Apraxia?  What's That?" Teach Beyond Speech Therapy,LLC. N.p., 27 July 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.

"Childhood Apraxia of Speech." American Speech-Language Hearing Association. 1919-2015 American Speech-Language Hearing Association, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.