Monday, August 3, 2009

Apraxia, A Speech Disorder

Izzie is currently 35 months old, has been in speech therapy since she was 20 months old, and was just recently diagnosed with Apraxia, a speech disorder. She is progressing with her expressive language development, but still is not at age-level. However, her cognitive and receptive abilities are above age-level. Therefore, she completely understands and comprehends everything that is said to her, but has trouble saying what she wants to say correctly and consistently.

What is Apraxia? It is a disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently.

What causes Apraxia? The cause or causes of Apraxia are not yet known. Some scientists believe that Apraxia is a disorder related to a child's overall language development. Others believe it is a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to send the proper signals to move the muscles involved in speech.

What are the symptoms? One of the most notable symptoms is difficulty putting sounds and syllables together in the correct order to form words. Longer or more complex words are usually harder to say than shorter or simpler words. People with Apraxia of speech also tend to make inconsistent mistakes when speaking. For example, they may say a difficult word correctly but then have trouble repeating it, or they may be able to say a particular sound one day and have trouble with the same sound the next day. People with Apraxia of speech often appear to be groping for the right sound or word, and may try saying a word several times before they say it correctly. Children with developmental Apraxia of speech generally can understand language much better than they are able to use language to express themselves. Some children with the disorder may also have other problems. These can include other speech problems, such as dysarthria; language problems such as poor vocabulary, incorrect grammar, and difficulty in clearly organizing spoken information; problems with reading, writing, spelling, or math; coordination or "motor-skill" problems; and chewing and swallowing difficulties.

How is it treated? Children with developmental Apraxia of speech will not outgrow the problem on their own; speech-language therapy is often helpful for these children. In severe cases, people with developmental Apraxia of speech may need to use other ways to express themselves. These might include formal or informal sign language or a language notebook with pictures or written words that the person can show to other people. I read that many children with Apraxia of speech, even at young ages, have some awareness of their difficulty. I would completely agree with this statement. Izzie knows exactly what she wants to say and will try to say it and can hear and recognize that it came out wrong; then she gets extremely upset and frustrated.

Izzie attends therapy once a week and will increase to twice a week starting in September when she turns three years old. She is consistently saying 2-word phrases now and has recently begun saying 3-word sentences. However, many words are unrecognizable to outsiders and can only be understood in context or paired with sign language.

We have many more years of therapy ahead of us, but each day when she says a new sound or attempts a new word, it gives me hope that she will overcome Apraxia.

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  1. Several have commented that my "Post A Comment" section is not working...just checking it.


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