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Childhood apraxia of speech

 
Does your child have childhood apraxia of speech? Find out more about this muscle disorder, the main characteristics of apraxia of speech and how it can be treated.
Does your child have childhood apraxia of speech?

Find out more about this muscle disorder, the main characteristics of apraxia of speech and how it can be treated.
 

What is childhood apraxia of speech?


Childhood apraxia of speech is a muscle disorder that makes it difficult for children to produce sounds, syllables, and words.

The muscles of their mouth are not actually weak; rather their brain cannot properly coordinate muscle movements.

Their brain knows what it wants to say but has a hard time telling their lips, tongue and jaw how to move the right way to produce speech sounds correctly.
 
Childhood apraxia of speech is usually present from birth and it seems to affect boys more than girls. However, it is not fully known what causes childhood apraxia.

Some researchers believe it’s related to a child’s overall language development while others believe it’s a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to send the proper signals to move the muscles involved in speech.
 
Children with childhood apraxia of speech often have family members who have a history of communication disorders or learning disabilities which tends to suggest that genetic factors may play a role in the disorder.
 
There is no single factor or test that can be used to diagnose apraxia. Medical specialists generally look for the presence of some of the main characteristics listed below, ruling out other contributing factors, such as muscle weakness or language-comprehension problems.

Testing and monitoring usually takes place over some time.
 

Characteristics of apraxia of speech


Some of the distinguishing characteristics of childhood apraxia of speech may include:
 
  • Not cooing or babbling as a baby.
   
  • Robotic-sounding speech.
 
  • Uses only a few consonants and vowel sounds.
 
  • Inconsistency and missing sounds. For instance your little one may be able to say a word once and then not again, or may be able to say a word sometimes but not at other times.
 
  • Problem combining sounds.
 
  • Grabbing at their tongue, lips and jaw when trying to speak.
 
  • May have problems eating.
 

Treating childhood apraxia of speech


Treatment for childhood apraxia of speech usually involves intensive speech therapy, often 3-5 times a week initially.

Therapy sessions usually target improved coordination of their muscle movements through lots and lots of repetition and attempting to say syllables, words and phrases.

A speech therapist will usually work with your little one to help shape their muscle movements into clearer speech.

Practice at home is very important. Parents will often be given assignments to help their little one progress and allow them to use new strategies outside of the treatment room.

With time and hard work, many children with apraxia can eventually become competent speakers.

If you think your child may have childhood apraxia of speech, contact your GP or medical practioner to discuss your concerns further and ask for a referral.


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