Phonological Process Disorder vs. Childhood Apraxia of Speech

A phonological process disorder and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) are two speech disorders that affect your child’s intelligibility and in some cases, can present similarly. However, characteristics of these two are different.

Phonological Process Disorder:

A phonological process is a predicted and patterned speech sound error.  Speech sounds developmentally progress in your child’s speech. If a sound is too difficult to produce or developmentally inappropriate, children naturally simplify it to an easier sound, thus producing a phonological process. For more information on sound development, click here to read my blog entitled Speech Sound Developmental Milestones.

Click here to learn more about phonological process elimination.

Below are some red flags of a phonological process disorder:

  • Unintelligible speech (a child should be understood 75% of the time at age 3, 80% of the time at age 4, 90+% of the time at age 5)
  • Frustration from your child when his/her speech is not understood
  • Patterned and predicable errors: consistent substitution of P for F such as “peet” for “feet” 

Childhood Apraxia of Speech:

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is not a language disorder, cognitive disorder, or a result of muscle weakness.  Simply, it is a disconnection between the brain and mouth-the brain cannot plan the movement needed by the speech articulators to accurately produce sounds and words.  Children know what they want to say, it is just that they cannot coordinate the muscle movement to intelligibly do so.

Below are some red flags of CAS:

  • Significantly reduced speech intelligibility (a child should be understood 75% of the time at age 3, 80% of the time at age 4, 90+% of the time at age 5)
  • Distorted vowels
  • Inconsistent productions of sounds and words
  • Difficulty imitating productions after a model
  • May have difficulty feeding

A severe phonological process disorder can appear similar to CAS.  In both cases, speech therapy will facilitate speech intelligibility by targeting specific sounds, syllables, and whole word and phrase productions.  If you are concerned about your child’s speech, contact us for more information.