When children have childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), they cannot speak well. They understand language. They know what they want to say. And the muscles of the mouth and throat have the strength and tone needed to speak. But their brains aren't able to plan the order and timing needed for the muscles to move together to create speech that others can understand.
CAS makes it hard for infants and toddlers to practice the sounds they hear when people talk to them. In older children, CAS can make it impossible for family members or other people to understand them. If your child has CAS, both you and your child can get frustrated and anxious.
Experts don't know what causes CAS. But with treatment, most children can learn to communicate better.
Diagnosis starts with your child's doctor. The doctor will do a physical examination and ask questions about your child's medical history. The doctor will also ask you questions about whether your child has reached speech and language milestones for his or her age.
If it looks like your child has a speech problem, the doctor will refer your child to a speech-language pathologist (SLP). SLPs diagnose and treat speech and language problems. They are also called speech therapists.
Your doctor or SLP may suggest other tests to:
To test your child's speech, the SLP will listen to your child talk. He or she will ask your child to say certain sounds, words, and sentences.
If your child has CAS, he or she will need regular speech therapy to learn how to speak clearly. The speech-language pathologist may:
Treatment works best when problems are caught early. Your child's speech therapy team will help you decide on the best schedule for treatment.
A common schedule is for a child to get therapy once or twice a week and to practice every day at home. Often the SLP will suggest that it's best for the child to have several short practice sessions over the course of a day.
Here are some tips for helping a child who has speech problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: March 28, 2018
John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
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