Proper Treatment Can Help Childhood Apraxia of Speech

 In Speech-Language Pathology

Being a child can be incredibly tough. This is especially the case when there is a communication disorder which impairs their ability to form close bonds and relationships outside of — and sometimes even within — a family environment. Children can become nervous and lose confidence, feeling embarrassed or something similar, and choose not to engage with others.

It’s not just concerning for the children, either. Being a parent with a child with childhood apraxia of speech can be very disconcerting as well. Parents can often sit up worrying about their children, wondering what is going to happen, if they’re developing normally, and whether or not they’ll be left behind.

We get this, and we have seen what can happen, both from a self-esteem perspective for the child, as well as the concern that many parents feel. But there’s good news. Treatment is available, and with work and dedication, the condition can be addressed with some very successful outcomes.

Let’s start out by talking about what apraxia is and how it affects the children who suffer from it.

A Primer on Childhood Apraxia of Speech

First of all, the condition is somewhat uncommon, and it affects different children in different ways. This is why it’s really important to have the child evaluated by a professional.

At its root, the child knows in their mind what they want to say. What is happening is there is a disconnect between how the brain thinks and how the brain directs the muscles of the mouth to act. The good news in this that some parents find is that it likely means that the child is still processing the world, taking in information, and learning, albeit sometimes with difficulty learning to read and write. They simply have an issue communicating what is in their head.

However, this isn’t a condition that will be outgrown. It will take time and practice, as well as developmental exercises to improve their ability to speak.

Here are some common signs of childhood apraxia of speech:

  • Stressing the wrong syllable of a word
  • Difficulty moving from one sound to another
  • Distorting vowel sounds
  • Putting space, or pauses, in between syllables that should flow
  • Not being able to replicate simple words
  • Not being consistent in word pronunciation

There is more, of course, but if your child has consistently had some of these more common issues, it can be a good idea to go ahead and get them tested for the condition.

The cause of childhood apraxia of speech is largely unknown, but some causes are thought to be developmental brain issues, genetic disorders, or something caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

How Treatment Works

When a child is found to have the condition, one of our trained speech therapists can begin treating the child. They take a very individualized approach, working with the child and family on strategies and techniques that will enable the child a more sophisticated approach to learning to communicate.

They will focus on exercises that will directly impact both speech motor planning and speech motor programming, focusing on how words flow together, and the muscles used by the mouth to form sounds.

The outcome from this practice when structured correctly is that, over time, the child begins to compensate for the issue preventing their speech. There are many different degrees of success, but every step of improvement is also an improvement in the child’s ability to engage with the world and to be more confident in what they say and the relationships they form.

Family Support

It’s critical for parents to be aware and involved in the process. This way, the parent can ensure that their child is employing the techniques learned in their speech therapy sessions at home and school. The parent can provide a critical link between teachers and schools as well, in order to ensure that the child is getting all of the support they deserve in their education.

Ultimately, everyone’s goal is to adapt their child’s habits so that they can live the best life they are able to live. Many of us can sometimes take basic developmental communication for granted, and it can be challenging to not be able to communicate effectively with our family members, both for those suffering with the condition and the other family members supporting them.

So if you have any questions about childhood apraxia of speech and would like to inquire about testing or treatment, please make sure and contact us today to set up a consultation.

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