Apraxia of speech (AOS), also known as verbal dyspraxia or developmental apraxia, is a speech sound disorder. AOS affects brain pathways that contain memories of learned patterns of movement. This translates into a person’s inability to consistently execute the sequence of speech sound movements.
The severity of AOS varies from person to person. Although apraxia is labeled as “developmental,” the condition cannot be outgrown. A child with AOS may learn speech sounds but can only execute them with the help of proper speech therapy. Additionally, while most cases of AOS develop during childhood, the condition can also occur during adulthood.
If you’re concerned that your child or another member of your family may have AOS, here’s what you need to know about its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment:
In most cases, the cause of apraxia of speech is unknown—with its symptoms already present in childhood or even as early as birth.
Some studies suggest that genetics may have a role in a child’s risk for apraxia of speech. Thus, it would help to find out if you have family members with communication or learning difficulties to better assess your child’s risk for AOS.
Furthermore, damage to part of the brain that is responsible for controlling motor functions is a culprit in acquired AOS, which can affect individuals of any age. People who suffered a stroke, sustained a head injury, or have brain tumor are at increased risk of developing acquired AOS.
People with apraxia of speech commonly have trouble uttering words correctly. They often mispronounce words, and this can lead to miscommunication.
Symptoms of AOS may vary from one person to another, but generally include:
- Groping for sounds or trying to say a word or sound several times until correctly pronounced
- Having trouble moving the tongue and lips when speaking
- Making mistakes in tones and rhythms
- Producing distorted sounds or mispronouncing words
- Taking long pauses in between sounds or words
Children with AOS may exhibit symptoms that could overlap with those of other speech disorders. These include:
- Babbling less for toddlers
- Delayed first spoken words
- Limiting the number of sounds for words
- Problems with reading, spelling, and writing
Individuals who have AOS can understand words that they hear. However, they struggle to use them. Patients with this disorder may also experience other speech disorders alongside AOS.
As established, apraxia of speech is a disorder that can be mistaken for other speech disorders, so AOS needs formal, specific testing by a speech pathologist to be detected. Diagnosing the condition involves accomplishing various speech tasks. These will help your speech pathologist examine your child’s speech capabilities.
Formal testing for AOS includes examinations that will:
- Assess your child’s ability to make consonant and vowel sounds.
- Check how others can understand your child’s speech.
- Check non-speech oral motor skills.
- Look at the speech muscles movements.
Aside from speech tasks, your speech pathologist may also conduct hearing tests and ask for medical records to diagnose the disorder accurately.
There is no single, effective approach to treating AOS. Your speech pathologist may recommend speech therapy tailored to your loved one’s needs. To see improvement, most patients require frequent and intensive speech-language treatments over a long period of time.
The rate at which the person will progress in their treatment will vary. They will need support from family and friends to encourage their improvement.
Speech Therapy for Apraxia of Speech in Wooster, OH
Apraxia of speech is a rare disorder that can affect a person’s speech abilities. Since communication is an essential human function, getting your loved one diagnosed and treated for AOS is crucial.
Here at Wooster Community Hospital, our speech pathologists provide comprehensive therapy services to help patients with AOS improve their speech capabilities and ultimately enhance their quality of life.
If you want to learn more about how we treat AOS or to schedule an appointment with one of our speech pathologists, do not hesitate to call us at (330) 263-8144. You may also refer to our contact us page to find our departments’ specific contact information.