Childhood Apraxia of Speech

(Also referred to as: Apraxia of Speech, Developmental Apraxia of Speech, Verbal dyspraxia, or verbal apraxia)

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder in which the child has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary for speech production. The child knows what he/she wants to say, but cannot consistently get the message to the speech muscles.

Key symptoms associated with this diagnosis:

Young Children:

  • Limited babbling as an infant
  • Late talking
  • Limited consonants
  • Vowel distortions
  • Limited syllables
  • Missing or changing sounds
  • Few words or word combinations
  • May have difficulty with motor movements involved in eating

Older Children:

  • May have a history of some or all of the above items
  • Inconsistent errors with speech attempts
  • Makes unusual errors that are not easily explained by developmental charts
  • Difficulty imitating speech
  • May appear to struggle physically to produce words
  • Has increase difficulty with an increase in length of words or sentences
  • Inconsistent prosody, may sound monotonous, choppy, or have difficulty controlling breath
  • Can get words correct sometimes, but not others
  • Ability to understand language is much better than ability to express language
  • Loss of previously learned words

Note: symptoms vary and not all children will have all the signs.

Evaluation and Treatment:

During the evaluation you can expect your therapist to collect a detailed history of the child’s health and development. She will conduct tests for production of speech sounds and language ability, assess oral motor function, and make attempts to elicit sounds and words.

Treatment varies depending on the age of the child and the child’s ability to participate in therapy. Therapy will target production of new consonants and vowels, increasing motor accuracy for expanding syllables in words and word combinations, and working on language goals as needed. Drill to get high repetitions of target words, cues (physical, visual, and melodic), and play based therapy will all be used during treatment. Participation of the parent in therapy and practice of home program exercises are critical to a child’s successful treatment.

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