To diagnose CAS, an SLP will learn about your child's history, including known medical problems. The SLP will also evaluate your child's hearing, oral motor skills, and intonation (tone), as well as the way he pronounces sounds. Your child's speech therapist will examine your child's lips, tongue, jaw, and palate for structural problems, such as tongue tethering or cleft palate, or other problems, such as low muscle tone. Low muscle tone is usually not associated with CAS, but it can be a sign of other conditions.
There is no single test or procedure used to diagnose childhood apraxia of speech. The diagnosis is complicated by the fact that speech and language pathologists have different opinions about what symptoms indicate the condition. Many other speech and language disorders can result in limited or unclear speech. Childhood apraxia is a very complex disorder.
It can be difficult to diagnose. Because of this, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) may need to diagnose the condition. An SLP has a lot of experience with speech problems. This helps you distinguish childhood apraxia from other types of speech disorders.
If you're concerned about this condition, the first step is to see a maternal and child health nurse or doctor, who can refer you to a speech therapist. The speech therapist will perform several speech tests to detect signs that it could be apraxia of speech. Very few studies have been conducted to determine the relative effectiveness of the various treatment approaches for childhood apraxia of speech. There are several support groups available for parents of children with childhood apraxia of speech.
Treatment is most effective if it is done by a therapist experienced in apraxia of speech several times a week. See the ASHA information for professionals on the apraxia of speech in children on the apraxia of speech in children on the practice portal. Children with apraxia of speech tend to have a much greater ability to understand speech than to express themselves with spoken words. Apraxia refers to the difficulty a person has in initiating and executing the movements necessary to speak.
Most children with childhood apraxia of speech will experience significant improvement, if not complete recovery, with appropriate treatment. Ongoing research is focused on determining if the brain abnormalities that cause apraxia of speech can be identified. Apraxia of speech is sometimes caused by problems with a gene or by damage to the brain, for example, due to brain injury or stroke. Most children with apraxia of speech benefit from meeting personally with a speech therapist three to five times a week.
There are different types of therapy programs, depending on the age of the person with apraxia of speech. Apraxia of speech is very rare and only affects 1 or 2 children out of every 1000 who see a speech therapist. With apraxia of speech, a person finds it difficult or impossible to move their mouth and tongue to speak. Apraxia is a rare type of speech disorder that makes it difficult to move your mouth in the way necessary to produce sounds and words.
In severe cases, a person with apraxia of speech may need to learn different ways of communicating, such as sign language, using a computer, or pointing to a book.