Our previous blog post confirmed that Childhood Apraxia of Speech or CAS is a motor speech disorder. If you didn’t catch the blog you can read it here. A motor speech disorder means a difficulty with planning or programming the movements required for speech. Today’s blog outlines treatment for Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) – What the Evidence Says. 

Speech therapy for CAS needs to focus on the motor planning and programming of speech movements during speech attempts. The focus of speech therapy is to help with child with CAS shape their speech to be more clear and accurate. For this reason,  speech therapy will target motor movements. Just like you would practice your golf swing or learning to ride a bike, to improve speech we have to practice speech. We do this through something called motor learning. 

What is Motor Learning? 

Simply put, this is the process of practice and experience that leads to the learning of a new movement skill (e.g. riding a bike). 

How is Motor Learning Taught?

There is a large body of evidence available to tell us how motor learning occurs. This evidence forms the basis of speech therapy for CAS (and our work with clients at Active Speech). Speech Pathologists will apply the Principles of Motor Learning to ensure your child has the most success possible regardless of the specific intervention program being used. For more information about the principles of motor learning check out this website here.

What Makes Speech Therapy Different for Children with CAS? 

Within a session, you can expect:

  • Frequent and Intensive Practice – Children with CAS need to practice a lot, and they need to practice often!
  • A Focus on Movement – This includes planning and programming the movements from sound to sound, syllable to syllable and word to word. Speech is a series of rapid movements and children with CAS need help planning how to make the specific movements required for speech.
  • Multi-sensory Input – This will involve the clinician using a variety of different cueing methods or ways to provide support to help your child improve their speech. It may involve touch, visuals, gestures or auditory information to help your child achieve success.
  • Specific Types of Practice – it could be the same target over and over also known as blocked practice, or it could be targets practiced in a random order.
  • Specific Types of Feedback – Initially it will be specific feedback (e.g. “you need to put your teeth on your lip”) and move to more general feedback (e.g. “you got it right”) as therapy progresses. 
  • A Focus on Prosody – This included fluency, rate, pauses, pitch, rhythm and stress. Prosody is used to change meaning and indicate moods and emotions. This is often difficult for children with CAS because it involves small changes to motor movements making it is a focus of treatment right from the outset. 

Treatment Programs for CAS

There are many different types of treatment for CAS, some for younger children, some for older children. Some are targeted towards severe CAS and others more mild. Here is a list of the evidence based treatment approaches: 

  1. Dynamic Temporal Tactile Cueing – a multi-sensory approach that incorporates principles of motor learning for children 2 years and up with moderate to severe CAS. 
  2. Rapid Syllable Transition Training – a multi-sensory approach which incorporates principle of motor learning. Appropriate for children 4-12 years old with mild to severe CAS. 
  3. Nuffield Dyspraxia Program Third Edition – a multi-sensory approach which incorporates principles of motor learning. Aimed at treating children aged 3-7 years with severe CAS. 
  4. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – used of AAC to help your child communicate without using speech while they are still learning to plan and program speech motor movements 

If you have concerns about your child’s speech development don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team here at Active Speech Pathology. We have the knowledge and training to help your child develop their speech skills.