Most young children have some mispronunciations in their speech, for example the child who asks their mom for “sketti” instead of spaghetti or asks to see the “ephelants” at the zoo. But for some children, speech difficulties may be far more severe, to the point that even their own parents have trouble understanding their speech. One possible cause for severely distorted speech is a condition known as childhood apraxia of speech.
Childhood apraxia of speech (also known as CAS) is a motor planning disorder. This means that the child has difficulty forming words and other speech sounds, but not because the muscles themselves are weak. Apraxia affects the brain’s ability to coordinate muscle movements. In CAS, this discoordination specifically affects the ability to speak. A child with apraxia of speech knows what they want to say, but the difficulty in planning these movements at the neurological level leaves their speech garbled and difficult to understand.
No two children with childhood apraxia of speech are exactly the same, but there are some common warning signs and symptoms of the disorder:
- delayed first words
- words that contain only a few different consonant and vowel sounds
- inconsistent sound errors that are not the result of immaturity
- the ability to understand language much better than he or she can talk
- difficulty imitating speech, but imitated speech is clearer than spontaneous speech
- groping when attempting to produce sounds
- difficulty saying longer words or phrases
- increased difficulty speaking when anxious
- speech that is choppy, monotonous, or stresses the wrong syllable or word
Stay tuned: Next week we’ll talk about some of the ways a speech-language pathologist can help a child with apraxia of speech communicate better!
Do you know a child who has difficulty with speech? Early intervention is key. While many speech difficulties are a natural part of development, they may also be a sign of a larger problem. Contact a certified speech-language pathologist today for a full assessment and put your child on the road to better communication.
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212)308-7725 or visit our website at www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!