What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a speech label for a type of speech sound disorder in which children have difficulty coordinating and planning the precise movements for speech. In a nutshell, apraxia of speech is due to an inefficiency in the messages sent from the brain to the articulators (lips, tongue, jaw, voice box, etc) which results in an unintelligible word or utterance. In most cases, childhood apraxia of speech has an unknown cause. However, apraxia can also be due to a genetic disorder and can occur following a traumatic brain injury such as a stroke.
Childhood apraxia of speech is best and most effectively diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist with additional post-graduate training in the differential diagnosis of speech sound disorders and apraxia. In most graduate school programs, CAS is not touched on in the depth it needs to be to effectively assess and treat it. That is why if you are a parent concerned about your child's progress in speech therapy and notice signs of CAS, it is recommended to seek a specialist in your area. The Apraxia Kids website has a fantastic provider directory that is vetted to ensure the therapist has the training and skills necessary: https://www.apraxia-kids.org/speech-language-pathologist-directory/
There are 4 methods to treating childhood apraxia of speech which have the strongest evidence to support effectiveness.
The methods include:
Dynamic Temporal Tactile Cueing (DTTC)
Rapid Syllable Transition Training (ReST)
Integrated Phonological Awareness Training (IPA)
Nuffield Dyspraxia Program, Third Edition (NDP3)
It is best practice to incorporate all areas of evidence into speech therapy (research, clinical expertise, and client/parent perspectives. Therefore, clinicians should also possess experience, knowledge, and skills of making clinically appropriate decisions for when to switch approaches, when to combine approaches, or when to modify approaches to effectively meet a client's individual needs.
Stay tuned for more information on apraxia of speech to come!