What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a specific motor speech or speech sound production disorder. Children whom exhibit apraxia have difficulty planning and consistently producing sequences of speech using their articulators (tongue, lips, jaw, palate). This often makes them extremely unintelligible, making it difficult for him or her to communicate with both familiar and unfamiliar listeners.
What does a "motor planning" deficit really mean?
For communication to take place, we first form an idea in our brains of what we wish to say. Our brain thinks of the words and puts them in order to produce a cohesive thought (using words, phrases, or sentences). Then the brain tells the muscles of our articulators (lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate) how to move appropriately, both in order and timing, to produce intelligible speech. Children with apraxia are unable to accurate and consistently produce speech motor plans. This can be due to neurological or developmental disabilities.
What are some characteristics of Childhood Apraxia?
- Difficulty moving articulators upon command
- Difficulty initiating oral movement
- Oral scanning or groping during attempts to produce speech
- Deletions prevalent in production of single words
- Inconsistent, off-target single words with deletions, reversals, or repetitions
- Difficulty maintaining the same motor pattern with repeated trials
- Vowel distortions
- Greater breakdowns with words of greater complexity or length
How is my child diagnosed with apraxia?
The evaluating therapist will often observe your child throughout the completion of standardized assessments and/or play-based interactions. If the evaluating therapist suspects apraxia of speech (based on the prevalence of the red flags above), the Kaufman Speech Praxis Test for Children (KSPT) will likely be given as this is a formal standardized assessment designed to assess for apraxia of speech. This assessment allows the speech therapist to assess where the child’s speech breakdowns occur and plan treatment accordingly.
What does treatment look like for children with apraxia?
At Building Blocks, we utilize a variety of treatment techniques to treat children with apraxia of speech. As recommended by evidence-based practice, we work on producing consistent motor patterns by syllable shape (often using the Kaufman kit for guidance as this aligns with the standardized assessment given). For children with apraxia to be successful in his or her treatment, it is necessary that consistent, repetitive practice with sounds, sequences, and movement patterns is provided in order to increase automaticity.