Apraxia is an rare motor speech disorder, which is caused by brain damage, wherein people face difficulty producing speech and certain motor movements. Apraxia can affect adults and children alike. Childhood Apraxia is an uncommon speech disorder in which a child has problems making accurate movements while speaking. They have difficulty saying sounds, syllables and words, which do not happen from muscle weakness or paralysis. Here the brain is unable to plan movement of lips, tongue and jaw, which are vital for speech. Although the child knows what to say, he/she fails to speak those words due to brain’s inability in coordinating muscle movements.

Apraxia in children might manifest itself in different ways – not all children with Apraxia will exhibit the same symptoms and signs. Hence, it’s important to get your child checked by a qualified Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) to rule out possible speech problems.

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Apraxia symptoms in younger children/infants:

  • The child does not coo or babble.
  • They learn speaking quite late and often miss words.
  • Usage of consonants and vowel sounds are limited.
  • Failing to combine sounds and long pauses between sounds.
  • Replacing difficult sounds with easier ones.
  • Possible difficulty in eating.
  • Difficulty in moving from one sound/word to another.
  • Distortion in vowel sounds.
  • Using incorrect/equal stress in words or syllables.
  • Frequently leaving out sounds.
  • Inability imitating simple words.
  • Inconsistency or error in saying the same word twice.

Apraxia symptoms in older children:

  • Understands language better than talking.
  • Incoherent sound errors that might not be due to immaturity.
  • Stresses on the wrong word or syllable. Speech is choppy or monotonous.
  • Difficulty saying longer words/phrases than the shorter ones.
  • Trouble imitating speech, but it’s clearer than spontaneous speech.
  • Hard to comprehend, especially for unfamiliar listeners.

There are other potential problems like late language development, word recall/word order confusion, difficulty in coordination and fine motor movement, over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity in mouth and problems reading, spelling and writing.

An audiologist can do a hearing evaluation to assess hearing loss as a possible cause behind a child’s speech difficulties. Always get in touch with a certified and well-informed SLP to evaluate oral-motor disorders, speech mellifluousness and speech sound development. A Speech Therapist can analyze childhood Apraxia of speech and prevent speech incongruencies when treated on time. SPL’s test and treat receptive, expressive language, sentence structure, vocabulary and literacy skills to check probable problems in these areas. They also review your child’s medical history, examine muscles used for speech and how your child produces speech sounds, words and phrases. Studies reveal that children receiving regular and intensive treatment have more success and improvement. As the child improves, therapy might be a better option. Frequent sessions with an Speech Language Pathologists will help.