Nearly every parent that comes to me with a toddler who has a speech delay asks me the same thing: “Do you think s/he has apraxia?”
Childhood apraxia of speech or CAS is a neurological speech sound disorder in which speech movements are impaired by deficits in reflexes and tone of the speech mechanism. CAS is caused by neurological impairment, either developmental or acquired from an injury. The impairment is displayed through errors in speech sound production and prosody.
This disorder is not as common as many believe. It is often marked by some or all of the following; groping, drooling, a change in vowels, and different productions of the same words over time (dog –> dod, da, gog, did). More often, children have a phonological processing disorder which is marked by similar production of the same word over time (dog –> dod, dod, dod) and similar errors across words (g is always produced d).
CAS is often over-diagnosed and under-treated. There are many tell-tale signs of both disorders but the only people who should ever diagnose and treat CAS are trained speech-language pathologists. If your child is still highly unintelligible by age 3, it may be time to make an appointment with a speech-language pathologist.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech – How Do I Know If My Child Has It?