What are the signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?

When parents notice their child has reached his or her first birthday and has yet to talk, they may think this delay is simply due to a slowdown in speaking processes. However, there could be an underlying issue responsible for postponing his or her ability to speak. This pause may be due to a disorder referred to as Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Childhood apraxia of speech may also be referred to as developmental apraxia or verbal dyspraxia. Children who have CAS know exactly what they would like to say, they are just unable to verbally express themselves.

What Is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

CAS occurs when the brain neglects to send coherent messages to the child’s mouth muscles to instruct these muscles how and when to move to achieve speech.

What Causes CAS?

The reason a child has verbal dyspraxia is usually unknown. However, in some cases, this disorder is linked to a brain injury, brain deficiency, a genetic disorder, a stroke or some type of syndrome. In addition, childhood apraxia of speech can occur due to developmental or motor delay issues.

What Are the Signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Some children have difficulty moving their mouths or tongues correctly as they attempt to speak, while others are unable to speak altogether. Recognizing the signs of CAS early on and seeking treatment can prevent this disorder from advancing.

Each child is unique. Therefore, parents need to keep in mind that signs and symptoms vary. A child may have all the signs listed below or just a few of them.

Potential signs indicating that a child may have CAS include:

  • A lack of babbling and cooing as an infant.
  • A limited repertoire of consonants.
  • The replacement or deletion of letters in a word to simplify oral-motor movements.
  • Representing words using one syllable (e.g., ma ma ma).
  • Using one word to express many.
  • Only speaking in vowels.
  • Continuing to convey thoughts by grunting and pointing after reaching 24 months.
  • Articulating a single word accurately, but having difficulty with stringing words together, resulting in garbled speech.
  • Spontaneous phrases or words may be verbalized once with total clarity, but never expressed again.
  • Struggling with fine motor skills.
  • A delay in speaking.
  • The occasional inability to form words.
  • Pronunciation issues.
  • Difficulty reading, writing or spelling words.
  • The tendency to focus on an incorrect syllable or word.
  • Finding it easier to say shorter words than longer ones.
  • Changing or distorting the way words sound.

How Is CAS Diagnosed?

The first step in receiving a diagnosis is scheduling an appointment with a doctor. Before this initial consultation, many parents find it helpful to write down the signs and symptoms that have led to the belief that their child is having difficulty with verbal communication. This information can help the doctor determine why the child’s speech is delayed, or the child is experiencing difficulty speaking.

What Happens During This Doctor’s Appointment?

At this initial consultation, the physician needs to know about the child’s medical history. In addition, parents should inform the doctor of any difficulties their child is having with verbal communication.

Following an examination, if warranted, the physician recommends that the child schedule an appointment with an experienced speech therapist. This therapist can help confirm a diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech.

How Does a Speech Therapist Confirm a CAS Diagnosis?

A speech therapist uses a variety of tests to confirm a child has apraxia of speech. During these tests, the therapist focuses on the child’s pronunciation of words and his or her ability to speak precisely.

Childhood apraxia of speech is not a disorder that a child outgrows. Therefore, without treatment, the child’s ability to learn the different sounds of speech in the usual order remains hindered. Nonetheless, a speech therapist can help improve your child’s ability to speak.

If your child has verbal dyspraxia, call 941-758-3140 to schedule an appointment with one of the experienced and caring speech therapists at Therapeutic Potentials, Inc. TPI serves children from Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Florida, and the surrounding areas. If you would rather contact us online, please click here to access TPI’s contact form.

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