Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder that affects children and adults. It is caused by damage to parts of the brain that control muscle movement. Messages from the brain to the mouth are disrupted, resulting in difficulty planning and producing the series of movements which are necessary to say words correctly. The child or adult knows what they want to say, but can not move their lips, jaw or tongue to the right place to make the correct sounds. We provide our apraxic clients and their families emotional support to cope with this highly frustrating disorder.
Verbal apraxia and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) are motor planning disorders which result in inconsistent errors; as the person attempts to self-correct, the errors become more complicated and speech becomes less intelligible. Common causes for adults include stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, brain tumors and progressive neurological disorders. Childhood Apraxia of Speech is extremely rare and may occur in otherwise healthy children, as well as in children who have experienced brain damage from infections, trauma or rare genetic disorders. CAS may also occur in some children with autism or epilepsy.
Symptoms include inconsistent speech errors, choppy speech and, in severe cases, an inability to produce any sound at all. Other problems occur when combining sounds, saying longer words or phrases and when imitating speech. Children with CAS often have additional difficulties in language development, fine motor coordination, reading and writing.
Intensive therapy is needed to improve speech coordination but not to strengthen oral muscles. Frequent therapy sessions, provided by a speech language pathologist who has experience in treating apraxia, as well as consistent practice at home, are essential.