CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH (CAS)
Take a look at the picture on the left. Most of you have tried to fix your hair, using a hand-held mirror and a wall mirror. It can be frustrating! You try to brush your hair in one direction, but you end up brushing it in the opposite direction! Your brain knows what you want to do, and your hand and arm muscles are fine! But, there is a breakdown in sending the brain’s motor message to the muscles.
Take a look at the photo on the right. When you were a child, did you ever try patting your head while you rubbed your stomach? Again, your brain knows what you want to do…your muscles are fine! But, the signal from your brain to the muscles of your hands gets discombobulated and you end up rubbing your head at the same time as you rub your tummy, or patting your tummy and head!
This is what it feels like to have motor apraxia!
For children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, the brain tries to send the signals to the speech muscles to make speech sounds and sequences; but, the message gets discombobulated; hence, what comes out of the mouth is NOT what the child intended!
WHAT IS CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH?
A non-linguistic (non-language related), neurological sensorimotor disorder of articulation
It is characterized by a “breakdown” in the NEURAL transmission of the brain’s message to the speech muscles
It is a disorder of motor PLANNING, not motor weakness
Can affect the coordination of SOME or ALL systems associated with speech production: respiration, phonation, resonation as well as articulation
Can occur in pure form/by itself or in conjunction with other disorders.
Can be accompanied by gross motor and/or fine motor planning difficulties.
IMPORTANT POINTS FOR THERAPY
Therapy programs must be tailored to the needs of the individual child! No cookie-cutter/cook book programs!
Our FIRST PRIORITY in therapy is to help the child gain an effective means of communication (i.e., pictures, signs) while his/her motor-speech goals are being addressed.
A child with CAS must experience early success in therapy! Incorporate any sound(s) that the child is able to produce into therapy from the beginning so he/she may have early successes.
Correlate speech targets with familiar vocabulary that is associated with the child’s daily life. Familiar vocabulary= frequent opportunities for practice!
CAS treatment is intensive, takes time and requires a commitment.