Developmental Apraxia of Speech – An In Depth Look
A is for Apraxia. On Monday, we took at look at Apraxia of Speech in children. Specifically, we outlined the types of apraxia of speech and related symptoms. The most common type of apraxia of speech in children is developmental, which means it is a neurologically based speech disorder. While some children with Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS) had specific prenatal or birth injuries, for the most part, there is no specific cause of DAS. This month, we will plan to take a look into the subject of Apraxia of Speech in children in more depth.
What is Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS)
Developmental Apraxia of Speech is also commonly known as childhood apraxia of speech or (CAS). It is a speech disorder in that interferes with a child’s ability to correctly pronounce sounds, syllables and words. A child does not have the ability to consistently position the parts of the mouth and jaw (including face, tongue, lips) for the production of speech sounds and for sequencing the sounds into syllables or words. Even though the child knows what he wants to say, he cannot say it correctly at a given time. Either the wrong sound comes out, or many sounds are left out all together. Often, a child will be able to produce a sound or word at one time and not be able to say is again when he wants to.
How is DAS Different Than a Speech Disorder?
At times, other speech disorders get confused with developmental apraxia of speech because some of the characteristics are the same. These include articulation and phonological disorders. In an articulation disorder, a child has difficulty with specific sounds. She may leave out a particular sound or use another sound in its place. In phonological disorders, a child has certain sound error patterns, such as difficulty producing sounds in the back of his or her mouth. There are, however, some characteristics or “markers” that help distinguish DAS from other types of speech impediments or disorders. These include:
- Difficulty moving smoothly from one sound, syllable or word to another.
- Groping movements with the jaw, lips or tongue to make the correct movement for speech sounds.
- Vowel distortions, such as attempting to use the correct vowel, but saying it incorrectly.
- Using the wrong stress in a word, such as pronouncing “banana” as “BUH-nan-uh” instead of “buh-NAN-uh”.
- Using equal emphasis on all syllables, such as saying “BUH-NAN-UH”.
- Separation of syllables, such as putting a pause or gap between syllables.
- Inconsistency when trying to say the same word at different times (says “cup” a little differently each time)
- Inconsistent voicing errors, such as saying “down” instead of “town,” or “zoo” instead of “Sue”.
If you think your child exhibits any of the characteristics of childhood apraxia of speech, you will want to consult with a speech language pathologist for a complete evaluation. Your child will not outgrow CAS, but with regular speech therapy and treatment, significant progress can be made.
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