Written by Smita Srivastava
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a speech disorder that affects a toddler’s ability to make precise motions while speaking. This condition affects a very small percentage of toddlers. Speech apraxia in toddlers makes it difficult for them to plan speech movements. The inability of the brain to properly guide or coordinate the motions of the muscles involved in speech, results in abnormal performance. The ability to arrange the movements of the lips, mouth, and tongue that lead to regular speed and rhythm in speaking is a skill your toddler’s brain cannot seem to work out.
Speech apraxia in toddlers is characterized as a motor speech condition. The child’s brain is malfunctioning in a way that prevents the proper transmission of speech-producing motor commands. Most instances have no clear root cause. Toddlers with CAS won’t get better until they get proper treatment. And it’s not a condition they will grow out of.
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Signals must be sent from your brain to your lips for speech. These signals instruct the muscles to operate in a certain way and at a specific time to produce sounds. When a toddler develops apraxia of speech, the messages that are intended to be conveyed do not do so appropriately.
Even if the toddler’s muscles are not very weak, they may be unable to move their lips or tongue appropriately. There may be periods when the kid won’t be able to speak very much at all. Toddlers who have CAS are aware of what they want to convey. The issue is not how the toddler thinks but how the brain instructs the muscles in the toddler’s lips to move.
If your toddler has childhood apraxia of speech, they may have trouble with verbal communication. Even though they know what they want to say, children with CAS have difficulty making the physical motions of their lips necessary to generate speech effectively.
Apraxia in toddlers is a challenging illness to understand. Diagnosing may be challenging as well. As a result, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) may be required for an accurate diagnosis. It may be necessary for both parents and the SLP to keep a close eye on a toddler’s speech development throughout time. However, please note that speech apraxia in toddlers is a very rare disorder. It is so rare that only 1-2 out of every 1,000 children in the United States suffer from it.
Childhood apraxia of speech is a genetic disease in which the brain does not seem to function properly. However, in most instances, a definite cause cannot be identified. A child’s brain impairment due to CAS may not be immediately noticeable to doctors. However, some of the most common causes of speech apraxia in toddlers are
The term developmental apraxia is sometimes used to refer to CAS. Toddlers with CAS, however, may not outgrow the disorder as they mature. Many children with speech delays or developmental problems follow typical language acquisition patterns but do so at a slower rate.
Apraxia is characterized by a wide range of speech-related symptoms. These symptoms may differ from one toddler to another. Some of the symptoms are
Many factors contribute to impaired communication skills in toddlers with apraxia of speech. These problems may or may not be related to the disease. However, these difficulties are quite typical for toddlers with childhood apraxia of speech:
Make an appointment with a speech-language pathologist if your toddler is showing symptoms of CAS or is failing to meet language development milestones such as learning to talk or identifying familiar items. If you notice that your toddler is having difficulty eating or coordinating movements with their mouth unrelated to speaking, you should contact your healthcare practitioner as soon as possible.
Your toddler could potentially benefit from a linguistic evaluation. The speech-language pathologist will assess your toddler and start therapy accordingly. Some cases of speech apraxia may require more intense treatment. So, the speech-language pathologist may call your child 4-5 times in a week as well.
Treatment for speech apraxia involves-
For us adults, it gets pretty frustrating if you’ve met someone several times but cannot recall their name. Your todller with CAS may feel the same way when they know someone’s name but are unable to say it because they lack the speech skills necessary to do so. Your toddler will need ongoing speech therapy to enhance their communication ability, and will benefit greatly from it. Every day, your toddler will progress in communicating with you, and you should be there to support and encourage them.
CAS is a disorder that does not go away as the child ages, and there is no treatment for it. Your toddler may exhibit dissatisfaction if they want to say something but cannot transmit that message. Receiving therapy as soon as possible might help ease that frustration.
With proper treatment a child with apraxia can lead a normal life. Children with more severe speech apraxia at the outset are more likely to recover fully with intensive speech treatment than those with less or severe co-occurring difficulties. However, with the right help, children with multiple severe issues can improve their communication and language skills. Last but not least, the motivation of both the kid and the family is often a factor that contributes to the long-term consequences.
There is no way that one can prevent speech apraxia in a toddler, as it is a neurological condition. Some cases of speech apraxia are also linked to genetic mutation. So, if you are pregnant or plan to conceive, then you can ask your doctor for genetic screening to assess your risk of having a child with genetic issues.
With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.
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