May is Apraxia Awareness Month so we’ll be shedding some light on Apraxia in our blog posts this month.  Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) might be something you’ve never heard of! Or you might be familiar with the name but don’t know anymore about it. So, let’s talk about it! and find out exactly what is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)? 

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder that makes it hard for children to speak. When a person speaks, messages go from their brain to their mouth. When a child has CAS, the messages have difficulty getting through correctly. So, they generally know what they want to say but they have difficulty getting the message from the brain to their mouth. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. With CAS, even though the muscles a child needs for speech are not weak, the child might not be able to move their tongue or lips in the right ways to make the sounds. The brain has difficulty planning the movements of the lips, tongue and jaw, as well as coordinating the muscle movements to form the sounds and words the child wants to say. 

What is the difference between CAS and a speech delay?

When a child has a speech delay, their speech development follows a “typical” path, but they develop at a slower rate. However, when a child has CAS, their speech development does not follow the typical path— they may have inconsistent errors and difficulty transitioning from sound to sound to form words. For example, a child with a speech delay might say “tat” for “cat,” but a child with CAS might say “cat” a different way each time they try to say the word, such as “pat,” “cab” or “mat.”

What are the signs and symptoms of CAS?

Children with CAS can have a range of abilities; not all of them are the same. Although a child might not show all of these signs, it is recommended that you talk to a speech pathologist (SP) if your child is older than three and exhibits the following signs/symptoms:

  • Distorts or changes sounds
  • Puts stress on the wrong syllable
  • Does not always say words the same way every time
  • Can say shorter words more clearly than longer words.

In addition, a child with CAS may mix up the order of sounds in words, have difficulty imitating sounds and words, and use a limited number of consonant sounds while speaking. 

How is CAS diagnosed?

The team at Active Speech Pathology are able to assess, diagnose and provide therapy for children with CAS. We will assess your child’s ability to understand language and use language to express themselves. To test for CAS, the SP will assess your child’s oral motor skills, motor speech skills, and speech melody or prosody. An audiologist should also perform an evaluation to rule out hearing loss as a possible cause of your child’s speech difficulties. 

We are always available to answer your questions – call us on 3103 0776.