Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder which is characterized with trouble planning and producing the exact movements necessary to make speech sounds. In regards to speech, the brain tells the muscles of the articulators in our mouth (i.e., lips, jaw, tongue, palate) the order, timing, and placement so that we can make a word. Pretty neat right? It affects 1-5 in every 1,000 children. It does not affect intelligence. However, it can co-occur with other diagnoses.
It is important to know that a child with CAS differs from a child with a developmental speech delay. A child with a true developmental delay will still follow a typical pattern of speech development, albeit slower. Their comprehension of language and their ability to use it usually progresses simultaneously. However, for a child with CAS, a wide gap typically evolves between their comprehension and their ability to use words to communicate. You may even see increased frustration with the children. Below are more characteristics associated with a child who has CAS:
- Limited vowels
- Errors vary from one production to the next
- Errors increase with the length of the sentence
- Rate of sentences is impaired (possible significant pauses between syllables/words)
- Movements of the articulators appears to be a struggle (i.e., groping)
- Poor speech intelligibility
- Delayed onset of speech development
- Limited babbling as an infant
- Possible loss of previously spoken words
My child shows these characteristics, now what?
First off, a pediatric speech-language pathologist will make this diagnosis. You and your child’s speech therapist will become important components of the team to treating your child. Yes, your child will make progress! Overall severity of their CAS is a component in determining progress, in addition to any other co-occurring diagnoses. Consistent practice is important for this to happen!
If you are feeling overwhelmed following a diagnosis, along with your child’s speech therapist, the following are great resources:
- CASANA- The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America
- “Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech”- (Book and Facebook page)
- American Speech, Language, Hearing Association