There are many different language delays and disorders found in the pediatric population. Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is one of the most common of these disorders. Dr. Libby Kumin defines CAS as “a motor speech disorder where children have difficulty planning, coordinating, producing and sequencing speech sounds” (Kumin, n.d.). Apraxia does not occur because of weakness or paralysis of facial and oral muscles. It occurs when a child’s brain cannot properly plan the movement of body parts necessary for normal speech production (“Childhood Apraxia,” 2011). Though CAS is the most common name for this specific disorder, it is also referred to as a variety of other names. Some of these names include: dyspraxia, developmental apraxia, pediatric verbal apraxia, or just apraxia (Kumin, n.d.).
It can be difficult to determine the specific cause of CAS in most children. However, it could potentially arise as the result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, genetic disorder, or syndrome. ASHA states that it is important for one to “note that while CAS may be referred to as ‘developmental apraxia,’ it is not a disorder that children simply ‘outgrow’” (“Causes and Numbers,” 2011). With most disorders related to speech development, the child learns everything in the same order as others, just slightly slower than their peers. If a child is experiencing CAS, on the other hand, they do not learn sounds in the usual patterns and cannot improve without therapy or treatment. Though there is no cure for CAS, much progress can be made with “appropriate, intensive intervention” (“Causes and Numbers,” 2011).
The list of symptoms and defining characteristics of CAS is rather extensive. That being said, all children with CAS are not the same. They could show signs of some, all, or none of the following symptoms (“Childhood Apraxia,” 2011). With a very young child, they may not coo or babble during infancy, produce first words late and lack some sounds, only produce a few different consonant and vowel sounds, have difficulty combining sounds, avoid using difficult sounds by replacing or deleting them, and experience eating problems. In older children, common signs are that they can comprehend language much easier than they can produce it, struggle more with language production when anxious, are hard to understand, sound choppy and monotonous, seem to grope to produce certain sounds, and have difficulty imitating speech, though they are more fluid and clear with imitation than with spontaneous production. At any age, a child may portray delayed language development, issues with expressive language, fine motor impairments, hypersensitivity, hyposensitivity, and difficulty learning to write (“Childhood Apraxia,” 2011). Other reported possible symptoms of CAS include extended reliance on nonverbal communication and omission of consonant sounds in the initial and final positions of words (“Apraxia: Symptoms, Causes,” n.d.).
CAS is one of the most...