What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is when children have problems planning how to say what they want to say and programming their muscles to move correctly to make the sounds that they want to make. The children know what they want to say but there is a disconnect in that they are not able to direct their vocal tract to comply with the sounds they are trying to make. Their facial muscles are functioning and strong, but the child has difficulties in coordinating them into the proper sequences to make the chain of sounds that comprise what they want to say. They may have difficulty making some specific sounds that they cannot coordinate as well as trouble with more complex words and sentences.
Children with CAS can display a variety of signs depending on their age and the task complexity. They may be able to use a range of simple words and sentences more easily since the sounds within and between the words require less coordination. They may demonstrate inconsistent errors in consonant and vowel production as they speak due to trouble with coordinating their muscles to move between the sounds in a word or sentence. They may also have longer pauses between individual sounds and words as they have to spend more time thinking about how to correctly form the sounds. They may also struggle with putting the correct stress and emphasis on syllables and words. CAS impairs a child’s precision, consistency, and fluidity of speaking and early intervention can help prevent persistent speech problems as they grow up. Speech therapy can help children with CAS to learn cues and feedback to help them coordinate their speech sounds more effectively. In case of CAS, speech therapy will establish new neural pathways that will make motor coordination easier. It is essential to receive intensive and consistent speech therapy to establish and improve motor coordination of speech muscles.
How Can We Help?
It is important to seek a speech language pathologist if you think your child has CAS as a lot of the signs can be similar to other speech disorders. CAS can be acquired or can have a neurological source. In both cases research has shown that early treatment has higher success rates of managing Apraxia. Our speech language pathologists will work with your child to help improve their overall communication and to help them manage their CAS.
The focus of our treatment for CAS is on improving the planning, sequencing, and coordination of muscle movements for speech production. Practicing speech patterns will help with planning and sequencing sounds both within words and between words. It can also help with their prosody and fluidity. Since their muscles are strong enough to produce the speech sounds, by focusing on feedback from their own senses it will help them to be able to better coordinate their muscles and facilitate their speech. The therapy sessions will focus on feedback from a number of senses, such as tactile “touch” cues and visual cues (e.g., watching him/herself in the mirror) as well as auditory feedback. With this feedback from multiple senses, the child can more readily repeat syllables, words, and sentences which helps improve muscle coordination and sequencing for speech. Also, speech therapy will help establish new neural pathways that will make motor coordination easier. It is essential to receive intensive and consistent speech therapy to establish and improve motor coordination of speech muscles.
PROMPT is a well known and well researched treatment technique for Apraxia and other motor speech disorders. PROMPT is a dynamic technique that allows the therapist to provide tactile and kinesthetic cues to the face, jaw, lips or tongue. This will help the child or adult with speech production difficulties to create and organize a single sound, word, phrase or sentence. Some of our speech therapists have received additional training in PROMPT and could use this technique to help improve motor coordination in children. You can find additional information on PROMPT here:
We provide treatment for Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Treatment should be intensive and consistent to change any changes in speech. Our speech therapists are patient and work with children exclusively. We understand not communicating your needs and not able to coordinate speech sounds is frustrating for the child. Children might lose interest and avoid participating in repetitive speech practice. Speech Therapists at Speech Therapy Works ensure speech therapy will be fun, engaging and motivating for children with Apraxia. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 553-0729 for information on fees, availability or to book an appointment.