Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a disorder of the nervous system that affects the ability to sequence and say sounds, syllables, and words. It is not due to the muscular weakness or paralysis. The problem is in the brain’s planning to move the tongue, lips, jaw etc.. for purposes of speech. The child is aware what he or she wants to say, but the brain is not sending the correct instructions to move the body parts for speech the way they need to be moved.
Signs of Verbal Apraxia (also referred to as Childhood Apraxia of Speech)
In Very Young Children:
- does not coo or babble as an infant
- produces only a few different consonant sounds
- unsuccessful at combining sounds
- produces first words after some delay, but these words are missing sounds
- simplifies words by replacing difficult sounds with easier ones or by deleting sounds
- may have feeding problems
In Older Children:
- has difficulty imitating speech
- can understand language much better than he or she can produce it
- makes inconsistent sound errors
- often has difficulty saying longer phrases than shorter ones
- appears to be worse when anxious
- is hard for listeners to understand.
Apraxia of speech is usually treatable with the appropriate techniques. It is not just a simple articulation disorder nor a phonological disorder but a motor-speech programming disorder. Traditional therapy techniques are usually unsuccessful. Minimal pairs techniques are also not as successful for these children. Speech pathologists should be knowledgeable about oral-verbal motor skills, and adult/acquired apraxia to assist the child best. They should be well-versed in cueing, pacing and successive approximations. The Kaufman treatment method for developmental verbal apraxia is a highly effective program with young children. Children must be seen one-on-one, at least in the early stages of treatment, even by age 2. The Kaufman Speech Praxis Test is also a helpful beginning in the evaluation of apraxia and in determining treatment goals. The Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Kit I and The Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Kit II are effective teaching tools. Both include full manuals and over 200 picture cards with successive approximations listed on the back.