Serving Frederick County, MD and Northern Loudoun County, VA

The ABC’s of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

 

As a speech-language pathologist, I understand how Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) can impact a child’s ability to communicate effectively. In this blog post, you’ll learn valuable information about the causes, characteristics, diagnosis, treatment and support for CAS. 

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech

CAS is a neurological speech sound disorder that affects a child’s ability to plan and coordinate the movements necessary for speech. Children with CAS may have difficulty making speech sounds and combining them into words and phrases which can lead to frustration and anxiety about communicating.

Essentially, your child knows what they want to say but the brain has difficulty sending that message to their mouth.

Causes of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

In most cases, the exact cause of CAS is unknown. However,  it is believed to be related to a problem with the neural pathways that control speech movements. CAS can occur in children with no other developmental or neurological issues. Also, it may be associated with other conditions such as genetic disorders, prematurity, or brain injury.

Symptoms of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Children with CAS may exhibit a variety of symptoms. These include, difficulty making speech sounds, inconsistent errors in speech production, difficulty with word and phrase repetition, and difficulty with the prosody of speech, including intonation, stress, and rhythm. Other characteristics include limited consonants and vowel and voicing errors. There is often a physical component to verbal apraxia which includes a groping-like movement in which the child’s mouth appears to be struggling to form words.

Diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Diagnosing CAS typically involves a comprehensive speech and language evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) with experience in treating CAS. The evaluation may include dynamic assessment, observation of speech behaviors, and analysis of speech sound patterns. 

Treatment of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Treatment for CAS typically involves intensive speech therapy with an SLP who has experience in treating motor speech disorders (hello, Bright Beginnings!). Therapy may focus on improving speech sound production and improving the overall clarity and intelligibility of their speech. Therefore, therapy involves the use of visual cues, such as pictures or gestures, to help a child plan and coordinate their speech movements.

Supporting a Child with Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Parents and caregivers can help support a child with CAS by providing a supportive and encouraging environment, working closely with their SLP to implement individualized therapy techniques at home, and advocating for their child’s needs within their school and community. Also, it is important to be patient and understanding, as progress may be slow and the road to effective communication may be long. 

Prognosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

The prognosis for CAS varies depending on the severity of the disorder, any comorbidities and the child’s response to therapy. With appropriate treatment, many children with CAS can improve their speech production and develop the skills necessary for effective communication. However, some children may continue to experience difficulty with speech.

If you suspect that your child may have CAS, it is important to seek the help of a qualified speech-language pathologist. With the right diagnosis, treatment, and support, children with CAS can develop the communication skills they need to thrive. Remember, as a parent or caregiver, you play an essential role in your child’s journey to effective communication.


If you live in Frederick County, Maryland or Loudoun County, Virginia and suspect your child may have apraxia, let’s talk!  Book a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss how I can help your child with CAS or any other speech and language needs. Together we can help your child reach his or her full potential.

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