What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?
This condition is another motor speech disorder that causes difficulty in speaking in children. Particularly, here, there are problems with planning the movements for speech sound. This results in errors in speech sound production. This is a relatively rare condition, as it occurs in 1 or 2 kids in one thousand kids.
A number of terms are associated with CAS, and they include developmental dyspraxia, developmental apraxia of speech, and developmental verbal apraxia. Children with CAS tend to have a higher likelihood of concomitant reading, language, and/or spelling disorders. However, not all children with CAS display the same symptoms. Parents should take their child to an SLP if the child is older than three years and
- changes or distorts sounds;
- doesn’t always say words the same way;
- is likely to emphasize the wrong word or syllable; or
- is able to utter shorter words more clearly than longer words.
Children with CAS may also suffer from other problems, such as:
- delayed language skills;
- difficulty with fine motor skills; or
- problems with spelling, reading, and writing.
Usually, what causes CAS is mysterious. In some cases, brain damage may trigger the condition. Such damage may be caused by a stroke, genetic syndrome or disorder, metabolic condition, or traumatic brain injury.
Diagnosing childhood apraxia of speech and treating it early on can decrease the risk of this problem persisting for a long time. If a child shows the symptoms mentioned above or experiences speech problems, parents should have a speech-language pathologist (SLP) test the child’s speech and language skills. To test for CAS, The SLP will look at the child’s speech melody (intonation), oral-motor skills, and how he (or she) utters different sounds. The SLP will also examine how well the child utters speech sounds alone and united in words or syllables, and evaluate how well others are able to comprehend what the child says.
Parents should also get their child examined by an audiologist as hearing loss will make the process of learning to talk a lot more difficult. Sometimes, children with CAS may have other problems or display symptoms that interfere with their ability to communicate, such as:
- Delayed motor and intellectual development and problems with spelling, reading, and writing
- Delayed language skills like reduced vocabulary, difficulty understanding speech, or problems in using correct grammar when placing words together in a sentence or phrase
- Hypersensitivity where the child tends to dislike some textures in particular food or clothing or doesn’t like daily activities like brushing teeth
- Problems with fine and gross motor movement skills or coordination
Though these problems or conditions aren’t triggered by CAS, they’re often noticed along with CAS. Thus, it becomes crucial to run tests to confirm if these are troubling the child.
Once the problem is diagnosed, the SLP will start therapy sessions. Initially, the frequency could be 3-5 times a week. As speech improves, the treatment’s frequency will be decreased. Group or individual therapy may be suitable at different stages of treatment, which the SLP will decide.