Apraxia: Speech Disorder in Children

speech disorder in children; It can occur as different types such as articulation disorder (inability to say letters), stuttering, delayed language. One of them is apraxia, which is a motor speech disorder.

Let’s separate it first: Language disorder and speech disorder are different things

Generally, language development and speech retardation in children are perceived as the same thing. But language and speech problems in children are different things.

  • If the child has difficulty in understanding what is being said and expressing himself, we can talk about a language disorder. In such a case, the child makes shorter sentences than his peers, uses the suffixes incorrectly or short, and his vocabulary is not wide.
  • If a child cannot produce sounds properly or fluently, it is a speech disorder.

What is apraxia?

It is a neurogenic disorder caused by the inability to transmit the message from the brain towards the speech muscles or limbs. Although there is no weakness affecting motor skills in apraxia, desired movements cannot be performed.

What are the types of apraxia that cause speech disorders?

Among the types of apraxia, apraxia of speech (verbal apraxia), also known as verbal dyspraxia, and oral apraxia cause speech disorders in children. Motor apraxia also indirectly causes speech problems in children.

  • apraxia of speech; It negatively affects the programming of the children’s speech organs and the rapid and fluent sequence of the muscle movements necessary to produce the sounds.
  • Oral apraxia; It is the inability of children to perform mouth movements used for speech such as blowing and licking their lips. When prompted for such nonverbal gestures, the child may not be able to do them in the correct order.
  • Motor apraxia is errors in programming all hand and body movements.

What are the symptoms of apraxia in children?

So, how do you know if your child is suffering from apraxia?

Speech apraxia (Verbal dyspraxia)Oral apraxiamotor apraxia
His speech is extremely incomprehensible.Since he cannot manage tongue and lip movements, he may drool even while eating ice cream.in all age-appropriate skills,
It simplifies and shortens words (Ex: aba instead of car.).Sucking, blowing, licking and swallowing skills are weak.in acquiring new skills,
Replaces letters (like “ball” and “pot”).To generalize what has been learned,
He has difficulty in making sounds, he searches for the sound he wants to make with tongue and lip movements.in handwriting,
There is a delay in language development.Timing and rhythm skills
He makes exaggerated hand gestures because he has trouble speaking.Learning the rules
Has difficulty repeating sounds such as pa-ta-kaThere is retardation and difficulty in learning speed.

In general, we can list the symptoms of apraxia as follows:

  • The longer the spoken word, the longer the child with apraxia makes mistakes.
  • Comprehension is stronger than verbal expression.
  • The child realizes that he has made a mistake. That’s why he often tries to correct the words by repeating them.
  • Cannot use sounds and syllables in the correct order.
  • Allows long pauses between sounds.
  • Speech intelligibility is very difficult.

What are the causes of apraxia in children?

The causes of apraxia are not fully known. But it’s definitely not a problem with the speech muscles. Although there is no weakness in the muscles, brain signals cannot be transmitted to the speech organs and commands cannot be performed.

There are thoughts that genetic factors may cause apraxia.

Apraxia is more common in men and children with autism.

How is apraxia treated in children?

  • If your child has apraxia, he should go to speech therapy 3-5 times a week.
  • One-on-one therapies are more effective than group therapy in children with apraxia.
  • According to the program of speech and language therapy, the frequency of therapy can be reduced when the child is improving.
  • Speech therapist helps the child plan the muscle movements necessary for speech production, sequencing sounds and syllables, and gain coordination skills.
  • Continuous practice is very helpful for apraxia of speech.
  • It is important that your child receives visual, auditory and tactile feedback while practicing speaking. This is why mirrors are often used in speech and language therapy. The speech therapist can follow the child’s tongue, lip and jaw movements by looking in the mirror while making certain sounds. Later, he can practice speaking by doing these movements himself in front of the mirror.
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