The term “apraxia” refers to a group of neurological conditions that impair one’s ability to control fine and large motor movements and gestures. While some people develop apraxia after a brain injury, some people are born with it. People with acquired apraxia may experience a spontaneous resolution. Still, those who are born with the disorder will always need therapy to manage it.
Apraxia can impair a person’s ability to move their legs, feet, toes, and face muscles. Additionally, it may impair communication skills. Despite having the physical stamina, mental capacity, and desire to move with control and purpose, people with apraxia frequently are unable to do so. The brain’s parietal lobes are thought to be the source of the different types of apraxia.
What Is Speech Apraxia?
The ability to use the tongue, lips, and jaw to form spoken words is specifically affected by apraxia of speech (AOS), a form of apraxia. The two primary types of apraxia of speech are acquired apraxia of speech, which develops after a brain damage, and childhood apraxia of speech, which is present from birth. People with AOS may experience mild to severe effects, making verbal communication challenging or impossible.
Although patients with childhood AOS frequently have family members who have been identified with learning disabilities and other communication difficulties, apraxia of speech is not a developmental disability. Additionally, it is not brought on by the speech muscles’ weakening or paralysis. One form of neurodivergence is AOS.
According to research, male children are more likely than female children to have childhood apraxia of speech, however, the discrepancy in diagnosis may be influenced by sexism, as in the case of autism.
A medical test is not available to identify apraxia of speech. Instead, certified speech-language pathologists (SLPs) examine for symptoms specific to the illness and rule out other conditions. AOS in children cannot be outgrown and needs ongoing speech therapy sessions to be treated or managed.
Speech Apraxia Symptoms Include:
- sound distortion
- making inconsistent speaking mistakes.
- finding the appropriate sounds or words is difficult.
- search for noises (attempts to find the right word or sound).
- slow speech pace.
- making mistakes with rhythm, tension, or tone.
Children could display:
- supremacy by delayed or mixed hands.
- disordered sensory processing
- issues with fine motor control.
- sluggish speaking
- writing and reading challenges.
How Do Speech Therapists Handle Speech Apraxia?
Apraxia of speech sufferers may receive rigorous therapy from speech-language pathologists to help them communicate more effectively. A lot of kids begin with three to five sessions each week.
The major objectives of treatment are to plan the motions required to produce sounds and execute those movements properly at the appropriate moments. Speaking activities will be included in this training rather than mouth muscle strengthening. Among the therapeutic methods employed are:
- Touch cues: Using your finger to feel the motion that particular sounds make on your lips.
- Speaking while gazing into a mirror is a visual cue.
- Recording noises and listening to the results provide listening cues.
In the Classroom
Students with apraxia have particular demands in the classroom. They often take in knowledge well and comprehend instructions, but they sometimes struggle to put what they have learned into practice. Students may become very frustrated as a result of this. A special education professional can frequently help children with apraxia.
In various contexts, sign language can be a helpful communication tool. If the youngster can speak, it’s crucial to try spoken language as well as sign language. Utilizing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools, such as tablets or low-tech whiteboards, is another method of communicating.
Since each individual with apraxia experiences it differently, educators and parents should work to come up with alternative strategies for pupils to engage in meaningful classroom participation.
Working with students, occupational, physical, and speech therapists can offer useful advice on how to modify lessons and course materials to encourage participation and reduce students’ levels of dissatisfaction. It’s crucial to give children with apraxia social supports like peer buddy groups in addition to particular methods for enhancing and sustaining speech.
AAC does not prevent verbal communication, contrary to what some parents worry will happen to their kids if they have access to it. In fact, research found that after receiving AAC assistance, 89 percent of AAC users’ speech development improved, compared to 11 percent who had no change and 0% who experienced a decline.
Be understanding of how your child can interact with you and the outside world if they are forced to utilize sign language or AAC or prefer to do so. Be courteous and understanding to them.
Celebrate the fact that they now have access to a variety of communication tools, and if they use sign language to communicate, try your best to learn it. If you can only fingerspell at first, that’s okay. Building your child’s confidence and self-esteem requires putting more emphasis on what they can do than on the challenges they confront. Additionally, it will convey to them your complete acceptance and affection.