Apraxia is a diagnosis that confounds many people, including some speech paths too! Apraxia of speech, is sometimes referred to as verbal apraxia or dyspraxia. It is a neurological condition affecting the planning and programming of spoken language. It affects a person’s ability to produce sounds, syllables and words, which makes communication difficult. At its core, apraxia of speech occurs when an individual has trouble sequencing movements correctly in order to produce the desired sound or syllable.
For many individuals with apraxia of speech, their difficulty may manifest itself differently depending on their age and history. For example, some children have apraxia that starts during the developmental process. However, adults may acquire apraxia after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke. The video I recorded above explores what apraxia of speech is and the key facts to help identify it in students. I’ve worked with students with apraxia for many years (in Spanish no less) and I’ve learned a few things that I want to share with you!
What is Apraxia Speech Therapy-Wise?
Ultimately, apraxia of speech is a communication disorder. It is characterized by difficulty producing speech sounds in the correct order and with the correct prosody. The most important features of apraxia of speech include impaired ability to accurately plan, sequence, and execute motor movements for speech production. That leads to inconsistent use of previously acquired words and phrases. Other concerns are difficulties with verbal repetition and an inability to imitate other speakers or imitate oneself. One thing I have seen with my students is difficulty with vowels. When I hear a client making errors on vowels, I may suspect apraxia. Why? Vowel errors are rare.
Diagnosis typically involves analysis of the individual’s language and speech production abilities. That starts with their ability to produce meaningful messages and an assessment of their motor planning and sequencing skills. Treatment of apraxia of speech typically involves intensive practice of targeted language, speech, and motor planning activities under the guidance of a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP).