In Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), the brain has difficulty communicating to the mouth how to effectively move the jaw, lips and tongue to say speech sounds. Apraxia is a movement disorder. PROMPT therapy is one effective way to address apraxia, but with a toddler, the key is to target communication development.
Common characteristics of Childhood Apraxia of Speech or Suspected Motor Speech (SMS) difficulties may include:
- Use of only a few sounds
- Unintelligible and / or inconsistent speech (e.g., difficulty placing sounds in the correct order, deleting sounds)
- Difficulty with imitation of sounds and words
- Family history
- Difficulty planning movement sequences / Limited variety of speech motor movements
- Limited vocabulary (mostly nouns)
- Slow rate of progress
- Use of non speech sounds to communicate
Childhood Apraxia of Speech / Suspected Motor Speech difficulties can be difficult to diagnose in toddlers because children who are late talkers may exhibit the same symptoms. Also, it is difficult to determine if the child has a severe phonological delay (articulation disorder) or apraxia. However, an experienced speech therapist will use a comprehensive treatment approach, addressing the child for language delay and potential Childhood Apraxia of Speech / Suspected Motor Speech difficulty simultaneously.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech can not truly be diagnosed until age 3 or 4, and it is typically a developmental pediatrician or a neurologist who provides the diagnosis.