Signs and Symptoms of Apraxia
Identifying symptoms of apraxia of speech can be tricky when you are dealing with a child. That’s because some children are simply delayed in their speech and language skills. It’s not uncommon to find a child who stutters or gets stuck finding the words to get his point across. That’s why getting a professional opinion as to whether the problem is actually apraxia is vital.
Most parents consider their pediatrician the expert to consult. But while an MD is expert on many areas, speech and language is a specialty unto itself – and so are tests to determine the actual diagnosis. So while this article should be of help to you, do not make the determination yourself. And don’t rely solely on your pediatrician’s opinion that your child is a late talker or will outgrow the symptoms. Early intervention is key. Use the following information to ease your mind or confirm your intuition that something just isn’t right. If your recognize one or two symptoms of apraxia, don’t panic. It could very well not be speech apraxia and normal developmental delay that will improve over time.
The most obvious symptom of CAS is the child’s inability to pronounce words, especially words with more than one syllable. It has nothing to do with the child’s not wanting to speak, but because the muscles used for speaking are not getting the proper instructions from the brain.
Developmental Apraxia is already present at birth, but will only show itself when the child is expected to form sounds and start talking. These children know exactly what you are saying and what they want to say but they literally cannot put those thoughts into proper words. One of the earliest symptoms to look for is less babbling as a baby. As a toddler, the child will have a hard time putting the proper stress on certain words.
Another symptom is distortion of certain sounds, especially vowels. As for the consonants, there is a tendency to totally omit the consonants at the beginning and end of some words. Sometimes a middle consonant is also omitted. The child will also have a hard time putting syllables together. He or she will struggle to say the word, and may end up giving up altogether. But if you ask the child to imitate a sound that he omitted and you model it for him, he very well might be able to do it. He just can’t use that sound within the structure of a word.
In addition to speech problems, a child with speech apraxia may also have exhibit difficulty with motor skills and simple oral movements like chewing or swallowing. His hand and eye coordination will also be clumsy and ineffective.
Children with speech apraxia will have a limited vocabulary, using only the words that he is comfortable that he can say. Being grammatically correct is also symptomatic of the disorder.
While the symptoms may seem frightening, you should know that if symptoms are recognized early and a speech evaluation confirms the diagnosis, with speech therapy the child will outgrow this disorder and learn to speak normally.