Childhood Apraxia of Speech

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What to expect

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Apraxia of speech in children is known as childhood apraxia of speech. Childhood apraxia of speech is a speech disorder affecting a childs ability to plan motor movements for speech sounds. Speech and language therapy can help to support and treat individuals with childhood apraxia of speech.

What is childhood apraxia of speech?

Apraxia of speech is a disorder of motor planning i.e. difficulty in planning the movement of the muscles used for speech. This occurs in the absence of any muscle weakness.

Children with apraxia of speech have the ability to say speech sounds but are unable to make to correct plan for the movement of the muscles of speech. A child with apraxia of speech will have difficulty in planning the movement for speech when required to do it voluntarily.

Apraxia of speech can present in mild, moderate or severe forms. Some forms are remediable with therapy whilst others can persist into adulthood.

Apraxia of speech may affect a child mildly where they only have difficulty on specific speech sounds. In more severe cases a child with apraxia of speech may be extremely hard to understand and use little or no speech.

A child with apraxia of speech will usually have good understanding.

The characteristics of childhood apraxia of speech are:

  • Difficulty in prosody (tone and rhythm)
  • Inconsistent errors on production of speech sounds.
  • Effortful and slow speech
  • Experiencing trial and error movements in order to produce the speech sound.
  • Struggling on more complex words and words of increased length.

A child with apraxia of speech may have additional difficulties in sequencing events, accessing their vocabulary and difficulty with reading and writing.

What causes childhood apraxia of speech?

Childhood apraxia of speech is a neurological disorder and is caused by subtle brain impairment. The exact cause and area of the brain that is affected is unknown.

What problems caused by childhood apraxia of speech can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy can help the following difficulties, which a child with childhood apraxia of speech may experience:

How is childhood apraxia of speech diagnosed?

A speech and language therapist is able to identify and diagnose childhood apraxia of speech. The speech and language therapist will carry out an in depth assessment of the childs speech and language in order to distinguish between childhood apraxia of speech and other speech sound disorders. An initial assessment will involve:

A conversation with you about your childs speech and language difficulties and any concerns you may have.

A case history of your childs development.

A general observation of your childs speech and language abilities.

A more specific assessment of your childs speech and language skills. Specific assessment may include examining your childs non-speech movements e.g. tongue and facial movements, asking your child to name pictures, repeat sounds, words and sentences of increasing complexity and length.

How does speech and language therapy help children with childhood apraxia of speech?

Speech and language therapy is beneficial for childhood apraxia of speech and can be resolvable in some cases. The most improvement is made when therapy is intensive 2-3 times a week and on a one to one basis.

The main aim of speech and language therapy is to help improve the intelligibility of the childs speech and maximise their functional communication.

Speech and language therapy will aim to improve the planning, sequencing and coordination of the muscles used to produce speech.

Speech and language therapy will involve the child practising speech whilst given feedback both by the therapist and also through visual feedback.

In more severe cases where a child is completely unintelligible, the speech and language therapist may work on alternative forms of communication e.g. using visual and communication aids to support communication.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with childhood apraxia of speech involve?

An initial assessment carried out by the speech therapist will determine the severity and type of speech and language difficulty. Assessment will help to decide on what the best method of treatment will be. Speech and language therapy may involve:

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for childhood apraxia of speech?

To arrange an assessment with one of our speech and language therapists for your child please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 0885 643.

Summary

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder where a child will have difficulty in planning the motor movement of the muscles responsible for speech. Childhood apraxia of speech can range from a mild to severe form and responds well to speech and language therapy. If you feel you and your child will benefit from speech and language therapy then please contact us by emailing office@slt.co.uk or calling 0330 0885 643.


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