While some children have typical articulation or sound errors, others can have a disorder known as childhood apraxia of speech. According to the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association, 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.
Children with apraxia differ from children with traditional articulation impairments in the types of errors they exhibit and in the severity of their impairment. Children with apraxia also respond differently to speech treatment and thus should be accurately identified so they are able to make progress and become clear speakers.
Signs of Apraxia
Children with apraxia will not exhibit all of these signs, but if your child is exhibiting several of them, you should have them evaluated for apraxia so the appropriate treatment for him/her can begin.
Treatment of Apraxia
Children with apraxia are able to make great gains once they are identified. A speech-language pathologist trained in working with children with apraxia of speech will work in a hierarchical approach moving the child from working on sounds in isolation to syllables, and onto words. Additionally, hand cues or visual cues can be used with children with apraxia to illustrate how sounds are made.