Childhood apraxia of speech is a sound disorder that occurs when your child’s brain struggles to coordinate speech movements.
It’s not a muscle weakness.
Your child’s brain has to learn how to send the correct signals which direct their lips, jaw, and tongue during speech to create accurate sounds and words.
Speech therapy for apraxia of speech can be a highly effective solution for this disorder.
Your speech therapist will break down the correct way to say words, syllables, and phrases so that your child can improve.
Here at Sol Speech & Language Therapy, we can help.
But first, let’s talk more about how childhood apraxia of speech works and how a speech therapist can help.
What Is Childhood Apraxia Of Speech?
Childhood apraxia of speech is a rare speech disorder where your child has difficulty making accurate movements while speaking.
Often, they know exactly what they want to say, but the challenge arises when their brain sends the signals to move their mouth and related speech muscles.
Their muscles don’t perform normally because their brain is struggling to direct and coordinate the speech movements.
What Are The Symptoms Of Childhood Apraxia Of Speech?
There are a variety of speech characteristics, or symptoms that your child may have if they have childhood apraxia of speech.
These will vary depending on their age and the severity of their speech challenge.
If your child is between 18 months and 2 years, your child may have childhood apraxia of speech if you notice:
- Delayed onset of first words
- Limited number of spoken words
- Only able to form a few consonant or vowel sounds.
If your child is between 2 and 4 years old, the symptoms of childhood apraxia of speech you may notice are:
- Separation of syllables in or between words
- Voicing errors like the word ‘pie’ sounding like ‘bye’
- Vowel and consonant distortions
- Saying the same word different ways each time
- Saying shorter words clearer than longer words
Typically, children with childhood apraxia of speech have a hard time getting their jaw, tongue, and lips to move to the correct positions to make a sound.
In the end, it is a motor sequencing issue.
Transitions between sounds are also a challenge, which is why they may say shorter words clearer than longer words.
It is not unusual that you may notice your child has a reduced vocabulary or difficulty with sentence word order.
In some cases, childhood apraxia of speech can lead to issues with fluency, causing issues like stuttering or cluttering.
As a result, those who seek treatment for childhood apraxia of speech often end up seeking out speech therapy for stuttering as well.
If you notice your child has any of these symptoms, book an appointment with Sol Speech and Language Therapy for an assessment.
What Causes Childhood Apraxia Of Speech?
There are a number of possible causes for childhood apraxia of speech.
However, it is often the case that a specific cause can’t be determined.
This speech disorder can sometimes be the result of a brain condition or injury such as a stroke, infection, or traumatic brain injury.
Childhood apraxia of speech can also manifest as a symptom of a genetic disorder or metabolic condition.
While it can also be referred to as developmental apraxia, children with this disorder don’t necessarily grow out of it.
Speech therapy is required to maximize their development.
How Is Childhood Apraxia Of Speech Diagnosed?
The goal with childhood apraxia of speech, as is the case with most childhood speech disorders, is to diagnose it early and start speech therapy in order to reduce the risk of long-term persistence of the problem.
If you notice your child has any persistent speech problems, you should have them evaluated by a speech therapist for this reason.
The first thing your speech therapist will do is evaluate your child.
Your speech therapist will look at your child’s oral motor skills, speech melody (intonation), and how they say different sound combinations in order to test for childhood apraxia of speech.
This includes checking how well your child says speech sounds alone, as well as combined in syllables or words.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help?
Once your pediatric speech therapist confirms that childhood apraxia of speech is present, they will create a program designed to teach your child how to sequence the movements needed to say correct sounds and how to make those movements correctly.
They will also focus on timing to teach your child how to make those movements at the correct time.
The key area of focus is practicing the movements and teaching your child how to use their oral muscles.
Much like going to the gym— but for your mouth.
Speech drills utilizing all of the senses are often a great resource many speech therapists will include in their program.
This will help your child retain more information.
Some things they might use are:
- Touch cues, like touching their lips when say the ‘p’ sound to remember to close the lips
- Visual cues, like using a mirror to watch when making sounds
- Listening cues, like practicing with voice recordings and listening back to them to hear if the sounds were made correctly
Mindfulness With Apraxia Of Speech
There is limited but growing evidence that incorporating mindfulness into speech therapy may benefit children with apraxia of speech.
Through mindfulness and meditation, children can become more aware of the mind – body connection they may be struggling with, which can help bridge the gap between your child’s brain and their speech muscles.
As well, mindfulness that incorporates chanting or mantras can help them with getting used to making the sounds they may be struggling with.
At Sol Speech & Language Therapy, we incorporate mindfulness into our science based speech therapy practice where it makes sense.
By combining mindfulness with more traditional treatments for childhood apraxia of speech, we work to get your child the best results in treating their speech disorder.
Book Your Appointment With Sol Speech & Language Therapy
Speech therapy is a great resource to help with childhood apraxia of speech.
The earlier your child is able to start speech therapy, the greater the chances for success.
This is because there will have been less time for bad speech habits to become ingrained.
Remember, this disorder doesn’t necessarily dissipate as your child develops.
Book an appointment today with Sol Speech and Language Therapy to get started and schedule an evaluation.
We’re excited to work with you.
If you’re ready to take the next step, reach out today for a free phone consultation.Sol Speech & Language Therapy
6448 E Hwy 290 Suite E-106,
Austin, TX 78723
Sol Speech & Language Therapy is located in sunny Austin, Texas and offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.