Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to carry out skilled or planned movements and gestures, specifically those movements having to do with speech production. Though doctors are uncertain what causes this disorder, they do know that while your child may have the intention to communicate, the desired message gets disrupted on its way to articulation. This can be frustrating for both children and parents alike.
Is It Treatable?
While there are no widely confirmed statistics for apraxia treatment, speech-language pathologists have found that most children with CAS, with individualized help, eventually learn to speak clearly. Though some children may continue to have some minor differences in their speech patterns or intonation, most children can be taught to speak in a way that others understand.
Finding a Speech-Language Pathologist
The most important thing to do as a parent is find a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) to determine whether or not your child has apraxia and, if so, to provide proper treatment. Because apraxia is a communications disorder, not seeking treatment or waiting to seek treatment can lead to other learning disabilities or difficulties later on.
Each child with CAS is different and therefore will demonstrate a unique profile of language and learning abilities as well as needs. A certified SLP will be able to conduct evaluations to conclude whether or not your child has apraxia.
If it is determined that your child does have apraxia, the speech-language pathologist will develop an appropriate treatment method.
If you are looking for a speech therapy provider in the Chicago, Karen George is a fully licensed speech-language pathologist and she or a member of her highly qualified team would be happy to provide more information or conduct an assessment. You can read more about her practice or contact Karen by clicking here.
What Parents Can do at Home
While attaining professional help is key to your child’s treatment, there are constructive speech therapy activities you can conduct at home with your family that will further help your child develop healthy communications skills. Easy-going and fun verbal games and exercises are a great way to get involved. This might include:
- Songs, especially those with repetitive verses like Old MacDonald
- Daily routines like greetings and saluting the flag
- Reading books on a regular basis, like I Love You Forever or Goodnight Moon
- Repetitive verbal activities like naming clothes items as you put them on
It’s important to remember that these should be low-pressure exercises; placing undue stress on your child to “say it” will only lead to frustration and will ultimately prove counterproductive. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t sing or talk along; the key is just to provide a supportive environment for her or him to do so individually.
It should be noted that these types of exercises are not a substitute for certified speech therapy and you should discuss the use of these exercises with your speech therapist before employing them with your child.