It is generally true that childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that influences people’s ability to plan, produce, coordinate and sequence speech sounds. The diagnosis of this disability is challenging, especially for the children under the age of 3. Moreover, kids who are suffering from this disorder have considerable disabilities in coordination of the movements of tongue, lips and jaw that are vital in speech production. It is needless to say that CAS is not a paralysis or muscle weakness; this issue is related to problems with brain. It can be illustrated by the fact that a child clearly understands what he/ she wants to say. However, he/she may have significant difficulties in coordinating parts of their body that are responsible for speech. Furthermore, the children who have CAS are not able to produce words and phrases intelligibly or automatically, that can be observed in children with normal development.
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Generally childhood apraxia of speech can be observed in conditions such as neurological impairment, complex neurodevelopment, and idiopathic speech disorder. The first one, neurological development can be caused by injury, disease, or infections. It can be seen before or after birth; moreover, it can cause fatal development. The presence of complications in the brain can be evident in a positive result on the magnetic resonance imaging scan of a child’s brain. The second condition or the complex neurodevelopment disorder can be a reason for the development of children apraxia. This category includes the following disorders that coexist with CAS: Galactosemia, Chromosome translocations, Autism, and Fragile X. The third issue, idiopathic speech disorder is a sickness with undefined reasons. This last condition is fully related to childhood apraxia of speech; since children with this disorder have not been diagnosed as having serious neurological abnormalities (Kumin, 2007).
There are two types of this disorder: acquired apraxia of speech and developmental apraxia of speech. The former is a disorder that can be caused by a stroke, tumor, head injury, or other diseases influencing the brain. It can be observed at any age, both in children and grown-ups. The latter may result from muscle weakness that affects speech production or language ability. Developmental apraxia (DAS) of speech is a disorder that is present form the birth of a child. Scholars often refer to this disability as the mental one; since it significantly influences mostly boys than girls. DAS is a delay of a flow of words that is usually slower than normal.
Additionally, it is necessary to discuss the symptoms of childhood apraxia of speech. It is vital to point out that the signs mentioned below may not be present in every child. In this case, it is important to have the child examined by a speech-language pathologist, who can professionally make a diagnosis, find out whether it is CAS or not, and provide a good treatment. The most evident symptoms of childhood apraxia of speech can be classified into two groups that are observed in very young and older children. Firstly, a small kid may not babble as healthy infant and be combining the sounds incorrectly, making big pauses between them. Moreover, these children can have a delay of development of the first words. Secondly, older children can make sound errors resulting not from the lack of immaturity. Furthermore, a child can pronounce the words monotonously, laying the stress on incorrect syllables. Older children with CAS can choke when trying to pronounce a long word or to coordinate their jaw, lips, or tongue. It is often obvious if a child with CAS is under nervous tension. It is quite evident when children are suffering from childhood apraxia of speech, because they are confusing word order and recalling unnecessary sounds.
Another point which is worth mentioning here is the treatment of children with CAS. An appropriate motor therapy for children with CAS is different from the treatment that is used for children who have other language disorders. One of the main areas that the attention should be paid to in order to coordinate the speech of a child with CAS concerns the sequencing for the movements from shorter to longer syllables. While doing this exercise, it is necessary to add new syllables one by one, so that the word will not be too complicated to pronounce. A good idea is to apply a prosodic approach; for instance, melodic therapy can significantly help to strengthen the child’s muscular organs of speech. Furthermore, a child should constantly practice speech by getting feedback in tactile and visualized methods. For example, the kid can look in the mirror while pronouncing the words. In this case, the mirror will act as a feedback from audience or the listener, controlling the movement sequences (National Institutes of Health, 2002).
If parents have the suspicion that their child is suffering from CAS; it is vital to seek help of a speech-language pathologist, who can choose the appropriate method of treating this sickness. Moreover, the family members should also remember that treatment of CAS is a long and intensive program, which can last for an extended period of time. In this case, mutual support and patience are essential. No doubt, putting a pressure on a person with CAS will considerably impair this disorder and lead to its undesirable development.
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