Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder.

Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.”

 – via the American Speech-Langauge Hearing Association

I have practiced speech pathology since 1970 and one of the most perplexing and serious disorders of speech and language is “apraxia of speech”. Parents will come to me with a 3 year old and say “he’s just lazy” or the pediatrician said he’ll “grow out of it”. Actually neither of these are true. He will not grow out of it and he’s not lazy. Children affected by this disorder need attention at a young age in order to not only provide therapy to the motor mechanism of speech, but also to provide therapy to the language system that expressively is not developing.

A child with apraxia of speech has difficulty performing voluntary movements of the musculature of speech. An oral motor examination will help determine if this is so. Many therapists will suggest that a Neurologist define the diagnosis which will assist in healthcare paying for the speech/language therapy needed. It should be noted that it still depends on the plan.

Unusual substitutions are noted, slow diadokokinetic rate is noted, disorders in linguistic output are noted, intelligibility is poor. It should be noted that that the earlier this disorder is detected the better the outcome.

I see most children by the age of 3 years and we move in a path of oral motor facilitation, attack of sound production, and weave in the language piece during therapy sessions. It is most important that parents become part of the therapy session in order to follow through at home.

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