Speech Pathology: All About Apraxia Of Speech In Children

One childhood speech disorder encountered in speech pathology is childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). It is estimated that up to 10 out of every 1,000 children may suffer from this disorder that causes a child to experience difficulty coordinating the muscle movements of their tongues and mouths to vocalize the words they would like to say properly. 

Read on to learn more about childhood apraxia of speech, including the signs that your child may suffer from this speech disorder and how treatment for CAS works. 

Apraxia of Speech Signs 

Early signs that a child may suffer from apraxia of speech include little babbling as an infant and a speech delay. However, after a child begins speaking, a parent can also watch for these common CAS symptoms

  • Extra mouth movements before speaking words. These mouth movements can signal that your child is struggling to position their mouth in a way that will help them to produce the desired word sound. 
  • Frequent speech regression. Speech regression occurs when a child loses the ability to speak words that they were once able to articulate. 
  • Unusual word intonation. Children with CAS may stress word syllables that are not traditionally stressed when speaking their native languages. 
  • Trouble pronouncing words clearly. A child with CAS may simply be difficult for others to understand when they speak. 

While not all children with apraxia of speech also experience fine motor skill delays, the two problems are correlated

Apraxia of Speech Treatment

Unfortunately, apraxia of speech cannot be outgrown, so early intervention provides a child the best chance at correcting this disorder before it becomes a life-long problem. For this reason, if you suspect that your child may suffer from apraxia of speech, then you should have their language skills evaluated by an experienced speech language pathologist who can determine if they may be truly suffering from this disorder and form a treatment plan to help them overcome it. 

To help a child with CAS, a speech language pathologist may: 

  • Teach your child how to pronounce sounds with visual instruction. Children with CAS often learn how to make new sounds when a speech pathologist shows them how to move their mouths to create the sounds. 
  • Have your child repeat words to practice vocalizing them properly. After practicing speaking a word properly, a child may be less likely to mispronounce it in the future. 
  • Plan the mouth movements needed to create a sound. When a speech pathologist helps a child plan how to say a word before they say it, the child has a "recipe" for the production of a specific sound they can use in the future. 

While CAS treatment plans can vary, many children visit their speech therapists 3 to 5 times per week when first learning to overcome this disorder. 

All parents should understand the signs that their child may be suffering from childhood apraxia of speech and how a speech language pathologist can help their child overcome this speech disorder. 

Contact a health center like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head for more information.