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What is Apraxia?

Parents of children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) commonly say things like “Nobody can understand my child,” “He knows what he wants to say but cannot get it out,” or “Sometimes they can say the word and other times they can’t.” Sometimes referred to as dyspraxia, developmental verbal dyspraxia, or speech apraxia, Childhood Apraxia of Speech is so important to catch and treat early!


Parents of children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) commonly say things like “Nobody can understand my child.”

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?

CAS is characterized by challenges with planning the motor movements needed for speech. This results in speech that is very difficult to understand. One way to think about this is to compare talking to building a house. When you build a house, you need a blueprint first. Without a blueprint, your house might not end up how you want it to. Similarly, when you are talking, the muscles needed for speech need a plan first. Apraxia impacts the ability of your brain to send that plan to your muscles, resulting in speech sounding jumbled and hard for others to understand.


Childhood apraxia of speech first becomes apparent when a young child is learning how to talk. A child with CAS knows what they want to say, but their brain has difficulty telling the mouth muscles how to move in order to say what they want. Children with CAS have difficulty with the speed, accuracy, and timing of movement sequences needed for producing speech.


In most cases, the cause is unknown. CAS is not something that a child will outgrow and treatment is required to make progress. A speech-language pathologist can diagnose and help treat the condition. With treatment, most children make progress in improving their speech.


CAS is not something that a child will outgrow and treatment is required to make progress. A speech-language pathologist can diagnose and help treat the condition.

Signs Your Child May Have CAS


Not all children with CAS have the same symptoms and there is no one sign that indicates apraxia. If your child shows some of the signs listed below, consider speaking to your pediatrician or contacting us for an evaluation.


In very young children:

  • Do not coo or babble as an infant

  • First words are late

  • Only able to say a few different sounds

  • Difficulty combining sounds

  • The child understands much more language than they can produce

In older children:

  • Make inconsistent speech sound errors, such as having difficulty saying a sound or word they have previously been able to say correctly

  • Is difficult to understand

  • Speech sounds slow and effortful and they may make awkward speech movements

  • Longer words and sentences are more difficult to produce than shorter words and phrases

  • Odd or “robot-like” speech due to monotone speech and unusual pauses while speaking

  • Anxiety may negatively impact a child’s speech quality


Children with CAS may have other problems, including:

  • Difficulty with fine motor skills

  • Delayed language development

  • Problems with reading, spelling, and writing


Diagnosis and Treatment


Since CAS is a speech-sound disorder, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are the most qualified professionals to diagnose and treat it. An accurate diagnosis requires a comprehensive speech and language evaluation. Children with apraxia require specialized treatment based on the principals of motor learning. The SLPs at Talk Time will develop a customized evidence-based treatment plan for each child. This will include targeting correct sound production in a fun play setting and ideas for the parent to incorporate at home.


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