Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), also known as developmental apraxia of speech, is a motor speech disorder that affects a child's ability to plan, coordinate, and execute the movements necessary for speech.
In children with CAS, the brain has difficulty coordinating the movements necessary for speech, resulting in inconsistent errors, difficulty with complex sounds, and a limited speech repertoire.
This makes it difficult for a child to speak clearly and consistently and can also impact a child's ability to communicate effectively.
Early detection and intervention are key to the successful treatment of CAS.
Diagnosing CAS can be challenging because it shares some similarities with other speech disorders. However, an experienced speech pathologist will look for specific characteristics of CAS, such as:
Delayed speech development: A child with CAS may have difficulty meeting speech milestones, such as babbling or saying their first words.
Inconsistent errors: A child with CAS may produce a sound or word correctly one time but then have difficulty repeating it consistently.
Difficulty with complex sounds or sequences: A child with CAS may have difficulty with more complex sounds or sequences of sounds, such as consonant blends or longer words.
Limited speech repertoire: A child with CAS may have a limited number of sounds or words in their speech repertoire.
It is important to note that CAS is not caused by muscle weakness or paralysis but rather by a breakdown in the planning and coordination of movements necessary for speech. While the exact cause of CAS is not yet fully understood, it is believed to be related to differences in the way the brain processes and plans movements.
In Australia, CAS is estimated to affect around 3-5% of children with speech and language difficulties. This translates to around 12,000-20,000 Australian children under the age of 18 who may have CAS.
So, if you suspect that your child may have CAS, don't worry; you're not alone.
Once a diagnosis is made, your speech pathologist will create a treatment plan tailored to your child's specific needs. Treatment for CAS is typically ongoing and requires regular, intensive therapy sessions.
Your speech pathologist will work with your child to improve their ability to plan, coordinate, and execute the movements necessary for speech. This may involve a range of speech drills, multisensory cueing, as well as strategies for improving their communication skills in social situations. The use of AAC devices may also be recommended if the child has severe difficulty speaking.
It is important to note that every child is unique and may respond differently to treatment. However, with early intervention and ongoing support from an experienced speech pathologist, children with CAS can make significant progress in their communication skills. Some children may continue to experience mild speech difficulties into adulthood, but others may fully resolve their CAS with early intervention and ongoing speech therapy.
If your child is hard to understand and you suspect that your child may have CAS, don't hesitate to consult a speech pathologist for evaluation and treatment. An experienced speech pathologist can help you and your child navigate their speech difficulties and work towards improving their communication skills.
At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we're here to help. Our speech pathologists are experienced in effectively diagnosing and treating speech sound disorders, including CAS. To find out more, contact us for further information on how we can help your child's communication development.