What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a speech disorder where the child’s brain has difficulty sending signals to the mouth to speak and be understood. CAS is a motor speech disorder, which means the obstacle in creating the correct sounds does not stem from muscle issues but rather difficulty coordinating the mouth’s actions in the brain. The child understands speech and knows what they want to say, but they cannot make their mouth form the shapes needed to create the correct sounds.
What are the symptoms?
Children with CAS can begin to show symptoms as young as 6 to 7 months old. You may notice your baby starts babbling later or makes fewer babbling sounds than other babies of the same age. They may also be delayed in saying their first words and using a limited number of sounds.
As your child gets a little bit older, there will be clear markers for Childhood Apraxia of Speech that your Speech-Language Pathologist will be able to identify. Some of these characteristics include:
· Difficult to understand when speaking
· Choppy multiple-syllable words/sentences; unable to move smoothly between syllables
· Groping movements with the mouth or jaw; trying different mouth positions to get the right sound
· Using incorrect vowel sounds
· Difficulty with stress, timing, rhythm, and flow of speech
· Inconsistency in errors; making different errors when trying to say the same word
· Difficulty imitating simple words or sounds
Importance of early intervention
In our last blog post, we discussed why early intervention is essential for children who show speech delays. In that post, we touch on the “wait and see” method. And while 70-80% of children grow out of their speech delays without intervention, children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech do not. If your child has CAS, they will need treatment from a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Children with CAS need to receive treatment early to achieve a higher chance of success.
Treatment and resources
Your SLP can determine the best treatment plan for you and your child. However, the first step is working with your Speech-Language Pathologist to get a correct diagnosis. A few speech disorders can be confused with CAS, and effective treatment will depend on an accurate diagnosis.
According to Alberta Health, your Speech-Language Pathologist will likely need to see your child for regular, long-term speech therapy.
Speech therapy with a Speech-Language Pathologist will help your child make a variety of speech sounds and help your child speak more clearly and be understood easier. They may also introduce sign language or assistive devices to help them communicate as they treat their CAS. It is also expected that your SLP provides you with some exercises and resources to support your child at home.
Because every child with CAS is different, the prognosis will vary. It is not possible for any SLP to say with certainty that a child will ultimately recover or that they will always struggle. With early intervention, appropriate professional treatment, and caregiver support, you will be giving your child the best chance to improve their ability to be understood and communicate clearly.
What is Childhood Apraxia of speech? Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://www.apraxia-kids.org/apraxia_kids_library/what-is-childhood-apraxia-of-speech/
Childhood apraxia of speech. (2019, May 10). Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-apraxia-of-speech/symptoms-causes/syc-20352045
Learning about childhood apraxia of speech. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=abs2505