toddler girl playing with tea set

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a neurologically based motor-speech disorder and causes children to have difficulty making sounds, syllables, and words. The brain knows what it wants to say, but there is a problem getting the signals needed to move the child’s lips, jaw, and tongue in order to produce speech. Children with CAS require frequent and intensive speech therapy designed to improve the planning, sequencing, and coordination of movements for speech.

How is CAS Diagnosed?

Because Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a communication disorder, the most qualified professional to provide assessment, evaluation, and diagnosis is a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP). A SLP will take a very careful history of the child’s development and note any known medical issues or other problems to consider during the evaluation.

Top Three Characteristics of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

The top three characteristics of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, as reported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Technical Report on Childhood Apraxia of Speech that can help the SLP make a differential diagnosis are:

  • Inconsistent errors with consonants and vowels on repeated productions of syllables and words (your child says the same word in different ways when asked to repeat it several times. This might be more apparent in new words or longer more complex words)
  • Difficulty moving from sound to sound or syllable to syllable, resulting in lengthened pauses between sounds and/or syllables
  • Inappropriate stress on syllables or words (such as all syllables are said with equal stress on each one causing the “melody” of speech to sound odd)

Will My Child Ever Speak Normally?

There are a number of factors that are likely to influence progress for children with CAS.  Some of these factors depend on the:

  • Severity of the problem
  • Existence or co-occurrence of other disorders or problems, such as other speech or language diagnoses, poor health, attention issues, and cognitive problems
  • Age at which the child began appropriate intervention
  • Child’s ability or opportunity to practice speech outside of direct therapy time
  • Child’s intent to communicate and willingness to make speech attempts

No one can totally predict the child’s ultimate success at becoming a verbal communicator.  Therefore, don’t put too much faith in a projected outcome if you are told that your child will never learn to speak or conversely that it won’t be long until your child is speaking perfectly.  The act of learning to speak clearly is typically long and challenging for children with apraxia of speech, but they can and do make great strides and much progress with speech therapy appropriate to their needs.  With appropriate help, there are many reasons to be hopeful!

How have you helped your child communicate more clearly?

Kristi Hay is the mother of Brianna who was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. She is also a local advocate.

Information provided by: http://www.apraxia-kids.org/guides/family-start-guide (2013). For more information on Apraxia, please visit: Apraxia-Kids.org

Leave a Reply