Apraxia of speech is a lesser-known motor speech disorder. It occurs in 1-2 per 1000 children across the world. Those with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) find it difficult to produce speech sounds. They may know exactly what they want to say, but the lack of lip, tongue, and jaw movements’ coordination keep them from perfectly uttering the word sounds.
Since it is uncommon, there are a number of myths surrounding apraxia of speech in children.
Today, we will debunk the 9 most common myths about CAS –
Myth #1 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: There’s Only One Type of Apraxia
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is more commonly diagnosed in children. CAS is present from birth. Typically, CAS isn’t associated with brain injury or trauma.
Acquired apraxia of speech (AoS) can occur among children as well as adults who were not born with CAS. AoS involves the loss of existing speech skills. AoS is a result of brain injury or trauma that damages the neural pathways involved in speech planning and production. It can be a result of traumatic brain injury, brain tumor or cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, or infections affecting the brain.
Myth #2 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: CAS Is a Result of Muscle Weakness
The exact cause of CAS remains unknown, but it is not a result of weak facial or vocal muscles.
According to some research, CAS may be caused by disruptions of nerve signaling pathways that prevent the brain from sending the right signals to the articulator muscles at the right time!
Therefore, activities that strengthen the muscles of the mouth, face, and voice box will not help a child with CAS. If you are looking for exercises for childhood apraxia of speech, you can refer to this set.
Myth #3 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Speech Delay Is Not a Sign of CAS
Childhood apraxia of speech makes it difficult for the child to make accurate lip, tongue, and jaw movements to produce the correct sounds. To the untrained eye, it may seem like the child is babbling or cooing.
If your 18 to 24-month old child is still babbling or cooing instead of speaking whole words, you should not assume that they are a late-talker. You should seek the help of a trained speech-language pathologist (SLP) for a formal evaluation of your child’s speech.
Myth #4 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: A Child Will Grow Out Of CAS on Their Own
Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a complex disorder that affects the muscles involved in speech production.
Treatment for CAS involves intense speech therapy with an SLP. Initially, your child may require between 3 and 5 sessions per week for improving their speech.
The goals of therapy for each child with apraxia of speech may be different. However, the primary goals include planning movements to say specific (target) sounds and making these movements correctly each time.
Myth #5 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: It Is a Sign of Intellectual Disability
Children with CAS are at a higher risk of motor and sensory function impairment. They may also exhibit a delay in language development, difficulties in fine motor coordination, oral hypersensitivity, and problems in learning to read, write and spell.
However, no studies correlate intellectual disability with the presence of apraxia of speech in children. Longitudinal studies show that individuals with CAS can lead healthy lives as productive members of society.
If you are a resident of the US and your child has CAS, they may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Myth #6 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: CAS And Dyspraxia Are Interchangeable Terms
In the US, childhood apraxia of speech and dyspraxia are not interchangeable terms.
Dyspraxia is also a motor disorder. It affects a person’s fine and gross motor skills. The person may have problems planning and processing motor tasks that may include speaking, posture, and walking. Clumsiness and poor hand-eye coordination are common symptoms of dyspraxia.
Childhood apraxia of speech is also known as verbal dyspraxia. It should not be confused with dyspraxia. The most common symptom includes pronouncing the same word correctly at all times and differences in prosody.
Myth #7 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: A GP or pediatrician can Diagnose It
A general physician (GP) or pediatrician may not be able to differentially diagnose CAS. However, you can ask them for references and guidance.
Here are some questions you can ask your doctor –
Has my child missed any speech and language development milestones? What should I do about it?
Do we need to consult a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for my child’s speech problems?
Avoid common mistakes that parents of children with childhood apraxia of speech often make!
Myth #8 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: CAS Is an Untreatable Disorder
Like several other speech disorders, childhood apraxia of speech or CAS does not have a magic cure. However, it is treatable.
You can speak to a speech therapist or SLP and explore exercises that can help your child gradually control their lip, tongue, jaw, and mouth movements.
Therapy for Childhood Apraxia of Speech should be intensive and continuous. Your child may have to attend 5 sessions per week for 6 weeks before you can notice any difference in their speech.
Myth #9 of Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Children with CAS Cannot grow up to be Highly Educated and Employed Adults
Some research suggests that children with CAS are at high risk for learning difficulties. Apart from receiving help for specific learning disorders like dyslexia, you can choose to access additional resources online for your child's education.
Some parents prefer homeschooling their children. However, you can opt for special educators depending on the severity of your child’s symptoms. It is important to speak to your child’s homeroom or class teacher about CAS.
CAS does not affect the intelligence of an individual. Children with CAS can grow up to be responsible and highly educated adults with respectable jobs.