There is a difference between a language disorder and a speech disorder. A child with a language disorder may have difficulty understanding what another person is saying or is not understood by others because they have difficulty expressing their thoughts. Apraxia of Speech is an example of a speech disorder.
Developmental apraxia of speech (DAS), also known as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), occurs in children and is present from birth. It is usually detected around 2 years of age when speech development appears to be delayed. A child’s speech may be unintelligible and sound like ‘babbling’ or jargon. The child may show symptoms by having difficulty saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. However, DAS is not due to simply weakness or a paralysis of the speech muscles. The child will generally not have trouble chewing or biting down on objects.
As stated by the National Institute of Health,
“One of the most notable symptoms is difficulty putting sounds and syllables together in the correct order to form words. Longer or more complex words are usually harder to say than shorter or simpler words. People with apraxia of speech also tend to make inconsistent mistakes when speaking. For example, they may say a difficult word correctly but then have trouble repeating it, or they may be able to say a particular sound one day and have trouble with the same sound the next day. People with apraxia of speech often appear to be groping for the right sound or word, and may try saying a word several times before they say it correctly. Another common characteristic of apraxia of speech is the incorrect use of “prosody” — that is, the varying rhythms, stresses, and inflections of speech that are used to help express meaning.
Children with developmental apraxia of speech generally can understand language much better than they are able to use language to express themselves. Some children with the disorder may also have other problems. These can include other speech problems, such as dysarthria; language problems such as poor vocabulary, incorrect grammar, and difficulty in clearly organizing spoken information; problems with reading, writing, spelling, or math; coordination or “motor-skill” problems; and chewing and swallowing difficulties.”
Identifying signs of communication problems are unique to the child and are likely to change over time. The difficulty with speech and later language development may even result in problems with reading and spelling as the child gets older. So, it is important to diagnose and treat any suspected speech disorders early in the child’s development. A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) should be engaged to diagnose and treat developmental apraxia of speech. The speech pathologist can evaluate and rule out possible contributing factors, such as muscle weakness or language-comprehension problems. An early diagnosis and treatment of developmental apraxia of speech are essential to the child’s success.
Although there is no single factor or test that can be used to diagnose DAS, an experienced speech pathologist, such as Beth Fine of Fine Communication in Manhattan, is available to assess your child’s speech and advise you as to the most effective approach to remediate your child’s communication problem.
Contact Beth Fine at Fine Communication to learn more about developmental apraxia of speech, its diagnosis and its treatment.