Dyspraxia Speech Therapy

Vocalsaints Therapists are trained to provide techniques proven to help correct severe speech sound disorders – including Dyspraxia. We’ve enjoyed positive feedback from our success in this area, such as from Jen, who contacted us after researching apraxia of speech (also known as dyspraxia):

“While you have been working with Caleb you have been really great and we have noticed a vast improvement within his speech.
Again we want to thank you for all your help”.
- Jen, Seatoun

Concerned With Your Child’s Speech Clarity?
Call a Vocalsaints Speech Therapist today.


Dyspraxia Described
Dyspraxia – also known as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) – is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what s/he wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.


Signs or Symptoms
Not all children with CAS are the same. All of the signs and symptoms listed below may not be present in every child. It is important to have your child evaluated by a Speech-Language Therapist who has knowledge of CAS to rule out other causes of speech problems. General things to look for include the following:

  • A Very Young Child
    • Does not coo or babble as an infant
    • First words are late, and they may be missing sounds
    • Only a few different consonant and vowel sounds
    • Problems combining sounds; may show long pauses between sounds
    • Simplifies words by replacing difficult sounds with easier ones or by deleting difficult sounds (although all children do this, the child with dyspraxia does so more often)
    • May have problems eating
  • An Older Child
    • Makes inconsistent sound errors that are not the result of immaturity
    • Can understand language much better than s/he can talk
    • Has difficulty imitating speech, but imitated speech is more clear than spontaneous speech
    • May appear to be groping when attempting to produce sounds or to coordinate the lips, tongue, and jaw for purposeful movement
    • Has more difficulty saying longer words or phrases clearly than shorter ones
    • Appears to have more difficulty when he or she is anxious
    • Is hard to understand, especially for an unfamiliar listener
    • Sounds choppy, monotonous, or stresses the wrong syllable or word
  • Potential Other Problems
    • Delayed language development
    • Other expressive language problems like word order confusions and word recall
    • Difficulties with fine motor movement/coordination
    • Over sensitive (hypersensitive) or under sensitive (hyposensitive) in their mouths (e.g., may not like tooth-brushing or crunchy foods, may not be able to identify an object in their mouth through touch)
    • Children with CAS or other speech problems may have problems when learning to read, spell, and write


Problems Can Arise In the Classroom
Classroom difficulties for children with severe speech and language disorders include:

  • problems with speech production
  • word-finding difficulty, connected with problems in learning, storing, and retrieving words
  • learning specialist vocabulary
  • joining words together to form meaningful language
  • language and scientific reasoning
  • social communication and interaction
  • difficulty understanding relational concepts and abstract concepts
  • problems in following instructions
  • general lack of progress in literacy


How is Dyspraxia Diagnosed?
A qualified Speech-Language Therapist assess the child’s oral-motor abilities, melody of speech, and speech sound development. The Therapist can diagnose CAS and rule out other speech disorders. An oral-motor assessment involves:

  • checking for signs of weakness or low muscle tone in the lips, jaw, and tongue, called dysarthria. Children with CAS do not usually have weakness, but checking for weakness will help the Therapist make a diagnosis.
  • seeing how well the child can coordinate the movement of the mouth by having him or her imitate non-speech actions (e.g., moving the tongue from side to side, smiling, frowning, puckering the lips)
  • evaluating the coordination and sequencing of muscle movements for speech while the child performs tasks such as the diadochokinetic rate, which requires the child to repeat strings of sounds (e.g., puh-tuh-kuh) as fast as possible
  • examining rote abilities by testing the child’s skills in functional or “real-life” situations (e.g., licking a lollipop) and comparing this to skills in non-functional or “pretend” situations (e.g., pretending to lick a lollipop)

A Therapist may also examine the child’s receptive and expressive language skills and literacy skills to see if there are co-existing problems in these areas.


Treating Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Dyspraxia)
Research shows that children with CAS have more success when they receive frequent (3-5 times per week) and intensive treatment. Children seen alone for treatment tend to do better than children seen in groups. As the child improves, they may need treatment less often, and group therapy may be a better alternative.
Some children may be taught to use sign language or an augmentative and alternative communication system (e.g., a portable computer that writes and/or produces speech) if the dyspraxia makes speaking very difficult. Becoming more common is the use of iPad or Android Applications designed to assist fine motor skill development, such as BinarayLab Inc’s Dexteria. Once speech production is improved, the need for these systems may lessen, but they can be used to support speech or move the child more quickly to higher levels of language complexity.


The Family’s Role
Practice at home is very important. Families will often be given assignments to help the child progress and allow the child to use new strategies outside of the treatment room, and to assure optimal progress in therapy. One of the most important things for the family to remember is that treatment of dyspraxia takes time and commitment. Children with CAS need a supportive environment that helps them feel successful with communication. For children who also receive other services, such as physical or occupational therapy, families and professionals need to schedule services in a way that does not make the child too tired and unable to make the best use of therapy time.


Concerned With Your Child’s Speech Clarity?
Call a Vocalsaints Speech Therapist today.

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