What is Apraxia?

Apraxia is a neurological condition. People who have it find it difficult or impossible to make certain motor movements, even though their muscles are normal. Apraxia comes in many forms and can affect children as well as adults. To be precise, it can be present at birth but also occur suddenly as a result of an event (i.e. stroke, brain injury, etc.). Apraxia affecting speech is often called apraxia of speech or AOS.

How common is apraxia?‚Äč

Childhood apraxia or childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is not very common. A child with apraxia can fall on a range from mild to severe. Boys are more afflicted with apraxia than girls.

Signs and symptoms of apraxia‚Äč

In children, some of the more common signs are as follows:

  • Limited babbling, or variation within babbling
  • Limited phonetic diversity
  • Inconsistent errors
  • Increased errors or difficulty with longer or more complex syllable and word shapes
  • Omissions, particularly in word initial syllable shapes
  • Vowel errors/distortions
  • Excessive, equal stress
  • Loss of previously produced words
  • More difficulty with volitional versus automatic speech responses
  • Predominant use of simple syllable shapes

Treatment for apraxia‚Äč

Treatment for individuals with apraxia of speech can include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

Speech therapy may include:

  • Speech drills.  Your child will be asked to say words or phrases many times during a therapy session.
  • Sound and movement exercises. Your child will be asked to listen to the speech-language pathologist and to watch his or her mouth as he or she says the target word or phrase. 
  • Speaking practice. Your child will practice syllables, words or phrases, rather than isolated sounds, during speech therapy. 
  • Vowel practice. Your child will practice that contain vowels in different types of syllables specifically chosen to deal with vowels.
  • Paced learning. Your child will be be go through a staged process depending on how fast they are able to progress to more and more difficult words.

Note that no single speech therapy approach has been shown to be most effective for treating apraxia and an individualized program is especially needed once your child has been diagnosed.

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