Apraxia of Speech

What is apraxia?

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. Children with the diagnosis of apraxia of speech generally have a good understanding of language and know what they want to say. However, they have difficulty learning or carrying out the complex sequenced movements that are necessary for intelligible speech. (Taken from Apraxia Kids website: https://www.apraxia-kids.org/ ) Apraxia is a motor planning disorder. Again, a child knows what to say, they just can’t seem to get it out. This is caused by a disconnect somewhere between the motor strip in their brain and the muscles in their tongue and mouth. Apraxia is not a childhood only diagnosis. It frequently happens in adults after a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).


What’s the cause?

  • Currently the exact cause for Apraxia alone is unknown.
  • Can be developed from brain damage such as a stroke, TBI, or a genetic syndrome.
  • Apraxia does NOT cause autism, but many children with autism have apraxia.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Connected speech is extremely unintelligible.
  • Word production is not consistent.
  • The same word is produced different ways on different days.
  • Sometimes shorter words are more clear than longer ones.
  • Sounds are often distorted or substituted.
  • Abnormal syllable stress.
  • Planned/frequently used words or phrases come out more clearly.

How do we fix it?

You’ll never guess….speech therapy! The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends therapy begin with 3-5x per week and can be reduced as progress is made. During therapy clients learn to correct motor patterns and create clearer, more intelligible speech. This is typically done through visual and tactile (touch) cues instead of auditory cues.

Remember the disconnect in the motor path We talked about earlier? If the only direction a child with CAS is given is to “say it like this,” we are depriving them of the visual and tactile support they need to produce speech sounds accurately. A popular tactile approach is called PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets). This program assigns a hand signal or touch to each sound. For instance, the cue for “M” is a finger to the lips, a hand on the neck/throat, and a finger on the side of the nose. This shows the need for lip closure and that your voice should be “on,” and that the sound is nasal.

The Personal Side of Apraxia

If you know or love someone who has been diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech, you probably understand how frustrating it can be. I highly recommend finding a support system whether it be another mom at the clinic you’re attending, a Facebook group, a blog writer, etc. Here are some Facebook pages, blog posts, success stories, and other resources:

Parents please know: you’re doing a GOOD job. Stop beating yourself up.



Information in this post on Apraxia came from the following:

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