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Childhood Apraxia of Speech... How much do we know about it?

Updated: Sep 29, 2023


Speech Sounds Disorders (SSD) is a huge umbrella governing organic SSD (developmental and/or acquired) and functional SSD (with unknown cause).


Typically organic SSD associates with structural insufficiencies such as cleft palate, hearing difficulties and neurologically. The functional SSD appears to be struggling with the rules of sounds (phonological SSD) and the placement of our oral motor (articulation SSD). Among them, there is one type of SSD often overlooked or easily misdiagnosed due to limitations in research to support the identification and treatment efficacy. However, that does not deny the struggles of those who live with it-- Childhood Apraxia of Speech.


Childhood Apraxia of Speech, in abbreviation CAS, refers to the neurological condition in our brain that affects the ability to speak smoothly and clearly. It is a motor speech disorder, individuals with CAS primarily struggle at the level of planning and programming of speech movements. It often gives the public impression of ‘my child is not speaking as well as other children of the same age’.


As a Speech- Language Therapist (SLT), it is pretty common to receive parent concerns as below:


“ My child uses gestures to communicate most of the time, and even if he speaks, he only produces sounds like ‘aaaa’ ‘oooo’. But he is 3 years old.”


OR


“ My child is 7 years old but she still doesn’t speak clearly no matter how hard we show her.”


I’m pretty sure these sound familiar at some point. Nonetheless they all share something in common- parents’ expectation and disappointment. But most importantly-- the child’s struggles and frustration that are yet to be understood.






It is not about I won’t, it is about I can’t.

CariebertSeminars.com






Individuals with only CAS often understand and know exactly what they want to say. They know what topic brings the fun in a party; they know the words and grammar that they should use in a formal occasion; they even know what kind of intonation they should use if they are to act in a show on Children’s Day.



But due to limitations at the programming and planning level in the brain, they just could not execute them smoothly and clearly. Hence, there is often a big gap between their understanding of concepts and language versus their speech productions. This may cause public misconceptions, what we often hear are:


“You are just stubborn! Say it out.”

OR

“Why are you being so lazy? Move your mouth.”

OR

“ Can’t you just stop being clumsy? Think before you speak.”


It is time to stop all the misunderstandings and misconceptions-- throw it all away. Instead, find ways to support them when they can’t say their words clearly, build their confidence to communicate and express themselves in other ways while they continue to work hard on their sounds.





Earlier last month in May, we had a webinar sharing about CAS. Do find out more in Webinar On Demands.




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