Apraxia of speech is a neurological condition in which a person finds it impossible to move their mouth or tongue to speak (Apraxia, 2005). There are two main types of apraxia; they are acquired apraxia of speech and developmental apraxia of speech (Apraxia of Speech, 2002). This paper is about Developmental Apraxia of Speech, its symptoms, causes, and appropriate treatments.
Developmental apraxia of speech is also called childhood apraxia of speech, because it is present from birth (2002). There are many symptoms of developmental apraxia, and each child may have different symptoms (Childhood, 1997). Some symptoms of very young children include problems eating, not cooing as an infant, late first words, problems combining sounds, and deleting difficult sounds and replacing them with easier ones more often than normal children (1997).
In older children, symptoms can include making inconsistent sound errors, understanding of language better than their ability to talk, difficulty imitating speech, difficulty saying long phrases or words clearly, difficulty for others to understand their speech, and speech which sounds choppy or monotonous (1997). Other symptoms may include delayed language development, word order confusion, word recall issues, difficult fine motor development and coordination, over sensitivity or under sensitivity of the mouth, and trouble reading, writing, and spelling (1997). Because there are so many possible symptoms of developmental apraxia, it is important to have children evaluated by a professional to rule out other causes of speech problems (1997).
Developmental apraxia is believed by many researchers to be a neurologically based speech-motor disorder, but exact causes have not been isolated (Causes of Apraxia, 2010). Researcher’s studies have not shown a difference or abnormalities in the brains of children with developmental apraxia (2002). Children with developmental apraxia often have family members with learning disabilities or communication disorders (2002). Researchers continue to conduct studies to find any brain abnormalities and genetic factors which may cause developmental apraxia (2005). Speech language therapy is used for treating developmental apraxia. Intensive intervention which begins early is best for children with this disorder (Lederman, 2012). In the beginning, children should have treatment 3-5 times per week (1997).
Children diagnosed with developmental apraxia show improvement more quickly when they receive treatment individually (1997). Speech language therapy for children with developmental apraxia differs from the therapy of children with other language disorders (2012). Treatment is based on the principles of motor learning, including repetition to establish and develop motor plans, practice opportunities to maintain learned patterns, use of relevant words and phrases, increased sensory feedback, and work on sound and word sequences (2012). There are still many things to learn about developmental apraxia, and studies regarding causes and treatments are still ongoing (2002). There is also research being done to find more specific criteria to identify and diagnose developmental apraxia and to distinguish it from other communication disorders (2002).
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Childhood Apraxia of Speech (1997).
Lederman, D. (2012). Speech Language Therapy for Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Apraxia of Speech
University of Rochester Medical Center. Causes of Apraxia (2010). www.urmc.rochester.
edu/speech-pathology/speech-language-disorders/apraxia/causes-apraxia.cfm Web MD. Apraxia: Symptoms, Causes, Tests, Treatments (2005). www.webmd.com/
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