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What is Apraxia of Speech?


Apraxia of speech (verbal apraxia) is a disorder in which the brain cannot coordinate the muscle movements of the mouth, tongue, jaw, and lips in order to correctly produce sounds, syllables, and words.  It is characterized as a motor planning/programming disorder.

When people speak, every word they say is carefully planned in advance by their brains and broken down into sounds and syllables. These signals are then sent to the mouth and formed by the muscle systems. However, apraxia of speech causes those speech signals to break down in route from the brain to the mouth.

Types of Apraxia Speech Disorder


Apraxia of speech comes in several different varieties and can affect an individual to varying degrees. In some cases apraxia is so mild that it manifests itself in a handful of speech errors, while in other cases it is so severe as to stifle all verbal communication.

  • Oral Apraxia means that the child struggles to voluntarily control his or her mouth muscles.

  • Verbal Apraxia is when a

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech is present in a child from birth. The child struggles to plan the voluntary moments necessary to say specific sounds and words (it is more common than oral apraxia).

  • Acquired Apraxia affects an individual later in life, most often during adulthood.

Apraxia can also be referred to as motor dyspraxia, dyspraxia of speech, developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD), Verbal apraxia or verbal dyspraxia, and developmental or childhood apraxia of speech (DAOS or CAS).

How to Identify Apraxia


Because Apraxia is such a varied speech disorder, its signs and symptoms are equally diverse. However, here are some of the most common warning signs that should suggest to parents that their child may need professional speech-language care:

  • Little vocal play or babbling

  • Robotic sounding speech

  • Omission of essential sounds

  • Difficulty imitating words on request

  • Inconsistency in sound production

  • Groping with the tongue, lips, or jaw when attempting to speak

  • Feeding difficulties

  • Behavioral disorders, temper tantrums, and inflexibility in social situations

What Causes Apraxia?


As with most speech disorders, speech-language pathologists are not entirely sure what causes Apraxia of speech. However, acquired Apraxia can be the result of a stroke, head injury, or tumor. It is important to note that with Apraxia the muscles of the mouth are not weak, rather the brain cannot properly coordinate muscle movement.

Apraxia Treatment


While Apraxia of speech may feel like a daunting diagnosis, it is important to remember that trained speech-language pathologists have many tools and techniques to help children reconstruct their powers of speech. However, that reconstructive process typically involves intensive speech therapy sessions 1-5 times per week.

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