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What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

childhood apraxia of speech

This is a difficult question to answer, as there are many schools of thought on the diagnosis and treatment of Apraxia of Speech.

While Speech Apraxia affects people of all ages and manifests itself differently from one person to the next, Speech Apraxia in adults is much different from that of a child. For adults, the cause of Apraxia of speech is normally a result of a traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, or dementia.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is caused by a neurological impairment. According to the American Speech and Hearing Association, Childhood apraxia of speech is a neurological speech sound disorder. It is not because the child has abnormal facial tone or reflexes. For example, if your child has down syndrome, more than likely it is the low muscle tone (dysarthria) causing speech delays, not speech apraxia. It could be the result of a neurological impairment or it may exist alone being in itself the only neurological impairment a child may have.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech affects the neurological planning and execution of making speech sounds. For example, assume the child is asked to make a “k” sound. In response, the child struggles to comply and finds himself pronouncing the “s” sound instead. No matter how hard the child tries to produce a “k” sound, they simply cannot. Their brain is telling their tongue to move in a certain way, but it’s not doing it. There is a disconnect somewhere in the neural pathway between the brain and the articulators (i.e.mouth, tongue, lips, etc.). Imagine how frustrating it must be for a child to hear the /k/ sound but be unable to pronounce it. Also, it is frustrating for the parent who so badly wants to understand the child.

Being in the field over 10 years, no child presents the same no matter what the diagnosis might be. Each child is unique, they respond to various treatments differently, and makes progress at their individual pace. A lot of parents come to me, and are afraid their child might have childhood apraxia of speech. I will do my best to properly test them and look at all aspects of the child’s development to make an accurate diagnosis.

Getting the diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech should not change the course of treatment! After doing a full assessment on a child, I develop an individual plan for that specific child. There is no “one plan that fits all” approach and yet there are some who claim the opposite, falsely promising remedies and results. If you hear of or are offered such a program—Run away!

Nicole Yates
About the author

I have been working in the speech-language field since 2007. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in 2006, and my masters from University of South Florida in 2009. I have worked in the school system, hospital, independent clinic, and home health settings. I decided to leave the hospital to work for myself, because I was frustrated with the amount of children required for me to see daily. Starting my own company has allowed me time to adequately prepare for each of my patients so that I can serve them and their families in the best way possible. Every child is so different, and I can now give them the time they need. I myself was in speech therapy as a child and know what it feels like not to be understood. It is my passion to help every child reach their fullest potential in the area of communication. There is nothing more fulfilling than hearing a child tell their parents they love them for the first time! I would be grateful to be a part of your child’s journey.