Childhood mispronunciations are a normal part of language development; most parents have fond memories of cute mispronunciations like “effalent” for elephant. But what happens when your child’s speech problems are more severe? Last week we talked about one speech disorder, that can leave a child with speech that is nearly unintelligible: childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). In our last blog, we discussed some of the signs and symptoms of apraxia of speech, and the importance of seeking the evaluation of a speech-language pathologist. Today, we’ll talk about how a speech-language pathologist works with a child with apraxia of speech after they’ve been diagnosed.
Since apraxia impacts the brain’s ability to send messages to the speech muscles, speech therapy focuses on improving the planning, sequencing, and coordination of muscle movements for speech production. One technique often used in speech therapy is providing multisensory feedback. Typically a child only gets feedback on their speech by listening to themselves. To improve coordination for speech, a speech therapist may provide additional feedback, like visual or tactile (touch) cues. For example, the child may watch himself speak in a mirror, or the clinician may provide touch cues on the child’s face as they speak. In order to provide more practice and help the child generalize their skills beyond therapy, the speech-language pathologist will usually provide the family with exercises and homework they can do with their child between sessions.
If a child’s speech issues are so severe that they are preventing the child from communicating their wants and needs, the speech therapist may also recommend some form of augmentative or alternative communication. This can range from simple hand gestures to high-tech options like speech generating computers. As the child’s speech improves, their reliance on alternative and augmentative communication will gradually decrease.
If your child has been diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech, it’s important to get them the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Research shows that children with apraxia of speech are more successful when they receive frequent and intensive speech therapy.
Do you have a child with apraxia of speech? Share your story in the comments section below!
If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give us a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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