Dyspraxia or Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words. There is no cure for Dyspraxia although significant improvement can occur with intense practice of speech sounds.
General things to look for include the following:
A Very Young Child
• Does not coo or babble as an infant
• First words are late, and they may be missing sounds
• Only a few different consonant and vowel sounds (reduced repertoire of speech sounds for their age)
• Problems combining sounds; may show long pauses between sounds
• Simplifies words by replacing difficult sounds with easier ones or by deleting difficult sounds (although all children do this, the child with apraxia of speech does so more often)
• May have problems eating
An Older Child
• Makes inconsistent sound errors that are not the result of immaturity
• Can understand language much better than he or she can talk
• Has difficulty imitating speech, but imitated speech is more clear than spontaneous speech
• May appear to be groping (visible struggle) when attempting to produce sounds or to coordinate the lips, tongue, and jaw for purposeful movement
• Has more difficulty saying longer words or phrases clearly than shorter ones
• Appears to have more difficulty when he or she is anxious
• Is hard to understand, especially for an unfamiliar listener
• Sounds choppy, monotonous, or stresses the wrong syllable or word