Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a rare speech disorder that impacts children’s ability to say sounds, syllables, and words. Children with CAS are unable to speak with ease because their brains struggle to control the body parts (jaw, lips, tongue, etc.) and muscle movements associated with speech.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech symptoms will vary in children based on age and the severity of the disorder. In addition to signs of a general speech disorder, symptoms characteristic of CAS include the following:
Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder that results from a disability in the brain function that controls the muscles and body parts needed for speech. Normally, the cause behind CAS in a particular child is indeterminable. However, doctors and other experts believe that possible causes of CAS can include:
It is important to note that while CAS is also known as “developmental apraxia,” this does not necessarily mean that children will outgrow the disorder as they get older.
Children suspected of having a language delay such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech are evaluated by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). The evaluation will most likely include a process that reviews your child’s speech abilities, muscles movements, and medical history. It can be particularly difficult to diagnose CAS because the process requires multiple tests and observations and also because it may be difficult for the speech-language pathologist to communicate with your child. Initially, a hearing test may be performed to determine if hearing loss could be causing speech problems. Afterwards, your child’s SLP will conduct an evaluation that involves the following:
The main form of treatment for Childhood Apraxia of Speech is speech therapy. Therapy for CAS focuses on improving muscle coordination for speech and is often very intensive. Studies have shown that frequent (3-5 days a week) and individual treatment tends to be more successful in improving a child’s speech. Some common characteristics of speech therapy for CAS include: