What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder characterised by difficulties saying sounds, syllables, and words not due to muscle weakness or paralysis. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but the brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements of body parts (e.g. lips, jaw and tongue) necessary to say those words.
Treatment of CAS can be difficult with young children as therapy requires a lot of repetition and some children don’t always respond well to feedback that requires repetition. This can be disengaging and can often cause them to lose interest in the task. Here are some helpful tips to achieve the most success in CAS therapy.
Tips to make treatment for childhood apraxia of speech successful
- Make sure therapy is fun. The muscles will be more relaxed and easier to work with. This is sometimes easier said than done; however, a good tip to keep in mind is to follow the child’s lead, that way you know it is a task they want to do. Once they are engaged, incorporate the speech goals into the task. Your Speech Pathologist can give you tips on how best to do this.
- Praise the child for effort even when the child doesn’t achieve the target that you are aiming for.
- Start at the right level (the one that is easiest for the child to achieve) and work up from there. Just like adults, children need some level of success in order for them to be motivated to continue a task. If we are constantly unsuccessful with a task then we are more likely to give up, so make sure that the targets are achievable for at least 50% of the time.
- Muscles tire very quickly so watch out for fatigue. Stop as soon as the child shows signs of fatigue or no longer wants to make another attempt.
- Encourage family members to join in so that it is fun and something everyone is doing. However make sure that they are not the only one making incorrect responses as this may be off-putting for the child.
It is important to keep in mind that progress to improve control of muscles is normally very slow so remember to be patient and continue to be encouraging. Every small step is a big leap for the child and brings them one step closer to successful communication. The above tips should be used in conjunction with a therapy plan tailored for your child by a Speech Pathologist experienced in dealing with childhood apraxia of speech.
If you have questions about apraxia of speech or other speech pathology related issues, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.
Read more about Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Click here: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association