Understanding Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
In order for speech to occur, messages need to go from our brain to our mouth. These messages tell the muscles how and when to move to make sounds. When a child has apraxia of speech, the messages do not get through correctly. The child might not be able to move their lips or tongue in the right ways, even though their muscles are not weak. Sometimes, the child might not be able to say much at all. The problem is not about how the brain can think; rather, how the brain instructs the muscles of the mouth to move.
Causes of CAS
Damage to the brain due to syndromic conditions or traumatic brain injury are the common causes of CAS; however, most of the time the cause is unknown. CAS can co-occur with Autism, Down syndrome, dyslexia or other language disorders.
Core Characteristics of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
Adapted from - American Speech and Hearing Association guidelines (2007)
Who can treat CAS?
Differential diagnosis is crucial to rule out articulation errors, phonological delay or disorder, dysarthria, intellectual disabilities, cluttering, and selective mutism before starting with intervention.
The only professional who qualifies to treat CAS is a speech language pathologist (SLP), who can differentially diagnose, establish baseline and set the right goals. Although, there are many who claim, they treat speech and language disorders or CAS, only a speech pathologist is trained for six years, to provide intervention for communication disorders.
Helpful strategies for parents
Follow these strategies under the guidance of a speech pathologist for best outcomes.
Chitra Thadathil (MSc, Sp& Hg)
References and further reading