What is childhood apraxia of speech?

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that negatively impacts articulation skills. Childhood Apraxia of SpeechChildren with Childhood Apraxia of Speech often have difficulty saying various speech sounds, syllables and words. Childhood Apraxia of Speech is not the result of muscle weakness, but rather the result of difficulty with motor-planning muscle movements needed to produce speech sounds within words. Although a child with CAS might know what they want to say, they often have difficulty accurately executing the muscle movements needed to produce the correct sounds. Childhood Apraxia of Speech is often also referred to as dyspraxia, verbal dyspraxia or developmental apraxia of speech. At the root of each of these terms, is the word “praxis,” which means planned movement. The core feature of CAS is difficulty planning the precise and efficient muscle movements needed to speak.

How do I know if my child has Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

The following signs may indicate that your child has Childhood Apraxia of Speech:

  • Child may have difficulty with feeding as an infant or young child
  • Child may have limited sounds in their repertoire as an infant
  • Child may be late to speak their first words
  • Child might have difficulty combining speech sounds, and may pause between sounds
  • Child may simplify words by deleting difficult sounds and substituting easier sounds
  • Child may understand language better than they can speak
  • Child may be difficult to understand by others
  • Child may have inconsistent speech sound errors
  • Child may have some difficulty imitating speech
  • Child may have difficulty saying longer words or sentences
  • Child may have difficulty with stress and intonation, and may sound monotonous or choppy during speech

How can I help treat my child’s condition?

Current research suggests that traditional articulation therapy is less effective for children with childhood apraxia of speech. Traditional articulation therapy often targets remediation of specific speech sounds. Treatment for Childhood Apraxia of Speech differs from traditional articulation therapy, in that it typically targets planning, sequencing and coordination of speech sounds. Additionally, research suggests that children with Childhood Apaxia of Speech respond best to frequent and intensive treatment (3-5 times per week), as well as multisensory techniques that integrate tactile, visual, and auditory prompting.

Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our therapists address childhood apraxia of speech using a multisensory treatment approach, driven by current research.