My son, Noah at age 2 was much like other two year old boys, except that his speech was not developing at the rate I expected. Speech delay is something that causes many parents concern, especially when your child is not expressing himself like his peers. This page aims to provide some information on Childhood Apraxia of Speech, the cause of our son’s speech delay and to provide some links to sites that I found useful.
What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech is known by several different terms, including verbal dyspraxia and developmental apraxia of speech. Speech apraxia is a condition mostly of unknown cause. It affects the area of the brain that sends signals to the muscles used for speech. There is a problem with coordinating the complex movements that are needed to produce and sequence speech sounds. These children can understand what is said to them. They even know what they want to say. But there is a breakdown in communication between the speech planning area of the brain and the muscles used to produce speech.
This results in difficulty producing speech sounds reliably. A child with apraxia may say the same word differently each time they attempt to say it. The sound errors tend to vary. When they repeat a word back, it is often clearer than if they say the word spontaneously. Many children will display oral groping. As they try to say a word, the mouth and tongue will go through several position changes as they try to find the right position to say the word. There is often a pause between syllables of words and between words in sentences as the child struggles to find the correct sound sequencing. Another feature is that some words are said just once or twice and then don’t appear again. It is as if they have been wiped from the child’s memory.
Apraxia of speech is certainly the most severe of the childhood speech disorders, in that it is a global problem and doesn’t just affect certain sounds. These children need to be taught not just how to produce individual sounds, but how to sequence each sound with other sounds. It requires a lot of practice of sounds over and over in order to build up motor memory. Early intervention is important. These children benefit from attending regular speech therapy sessions in order to plan the order in which speech sounds and sequencing are taught. Parental involvement is so important as most of the practice can be done in the home, using games and activities to provide opportunities to practice certain words and sounds. You can read a little more about our journey with Noah below by clicking on the blog links.
Some useful links