Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a neurological childhood speech sound disorder in which the precision and consistency of movements underlying speech are impaired in the absence of neuromuscular deficits (e.g. abnormal reflexes, abnormal tone.) The core impairment in planning results in errors in speech sound production and prosody (ASHA, 2007). Children with CAS have difficulties with motor planning as it relates to speech sound production.
They know what they want to say but have difficulty getting their message out.
Listed below are some early signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech to look out for:
Treatment for CAS is rooted in the principles of motor learning. Factors related to motor learning include:
(Maas et al 2008)
While traditional therapy targets specific speech sounds, our childhood apraxia of speech goals aim to establish new neural pathways or fix the existing ones. To achieve this goal, the child will require repetitive practice. Practice should target movement patterns in syllables known as co-articulation, rather than individual and specific speech sounds. The movement patterns targeted will increase in complexity as therapy progresses.
Your SLP will assist you in establishing appropriate, functional targets to progress your child’s expressive language skills. Repetition of target words and frequent practice is essential in establishing notable gains in skill.
Caregivers and family members play an integral role in treatment! There are plenty of ways to make learning fun while still getting lots of practice in at home! Children learn best during daily routines and during play. If you suspect your child may have CAS, here are some strategies for home practice.
Did you know that May 14th is Apraxia Awareness Day and May is Apraxia Awareness Month? For more information and resources, visit www.apraxia-kids.org.
Alyssa Mignone is a paediatric speech language pathologist at NAPA Centre Boston. Alyssa loves putting the “fun” in functional by using everyday routines to create meaningful language opportunities for children to grow. When she’s not at work, you can find her skiing, hiking, or relaxing at the beach!
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