What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor-planning disorder in which an individual has the language capacity to talk, but the signals between his or her brain and mouth muscles are not sent correctly.

A child with CAS may know exactly what they want to say but their brain struggles to communicate with the muscles in their mouth to tell them how to move in order to make the appropriate sounds.

Unfortunately, CAS is not an issue that children will outgrow on their own. It can take a lot of work, but the child’s speech can improve with treatment from a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist.

What are the symptoms?

All children are unique, and that's especially true for children with CAS. Symptoms can vary and are sometimes difficult to spot. You should talk to your doctor or a speech-language pathologist (SLP) if your child:

  • Pronounces the same word differently each time
  • Stresses the wrong syllable of a word, or the wrong word in a sentence (i.e. “but-TER-fly”)
  • Places equal stress on all syllables of a word (i.e. “BUT-TER-FLY”)
  • Distorts or changes sounds in a word
  • Struggles to pronounce longer words
  • Makes groping movements with the lips, jaw, or tongue to make the correct speech sounds
  • Produces inconsistent voicing errors, such as “bull” for “pull”

How does CAS differ from other speech sound disorders?

Some of the symptoms in CAS are indistinguishable from other speech difficulties, such as phonological disorders. If your child demonstrates the following symptoms, differential diagnosis by a certified speech-language pathologist may be warranted:

  • Produces their first words late (between 12 and 18 months)
  • Uses a limited number of consonants and vowels
  • Frequently omits or leaves out sounds in words
  • Produces speech that is difficult to understand

Causes of Childhood Apraxia

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the cause of CAS is unknown in most cases. Though CAS can come as a result of a stroke or traumatic brain injury, it is also considered to be genetically inherited.

How is it treated?

Children with CAS should work with a Speech-Language Pathologist. Speech therapy has been proven effective for improving speech outcomes for children with CAS.

Your speech therapist will help your child pronounce sounds, words, and sentences more clearly. Early on, your child may require frequent speech therapy. However, as their speech improves, treatment may be needed less often.

Practice will be the key to improving speech outcomes for children with CAS. That is why it’s incredibly important that families practice the lessons and strategies they learn with their SLP in between therapy sessions.

How can Expressable help?

Treating apraxia is different from other speech sound disorders, and therefore differential diagnosis by an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist is essential for designing an appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention improves outcomes and intensive or high-frequency treatment is often recommended for CAS.

Online speech therapy with Expressable offers families the opportunity to receive individualized treatment at a fraction of the cost of traditional speech therapy. Treatment is done using online video sessions, so there’s no need to travel multiple times per week to a speech clinic. Best of all, Expressable believes that empowered families increase outcomes for clients - so family education and personalized home exercises are included in every subscription plan.

Schedule a free consultation with Expressable if you have concerns regarding your speech or that of a family member.