An expert in speech pathology can help children with speech impediments, stuttering, and sounds, but their skillset expands far beyond oral communication. A speech therapist is also someone who can help your child to communicate on other levels, with idea expression, thought organization, and attention spans.
Speech and language disorders don’t fit in a box, which means that even children with disabilities and conditions like apraxia, for example, can see great benefit from working with a speech pathologist.
For any parent with a child with apraxia, or waiting for an apraxia diagnosis, there is much unknown information. How do you know what to expect? How do you know what to look out for? How can a speech pathologist help? Read on to find out more about apraxia and your child.
What is Apraxia?
Apraxia is a motor disorder that causes children and adults to have difficulty speaking. Children may know what they want to say, but forming the words and getting them out can prove tricky. The condition is not caused by an underlying disease, but rather damage to the posterior parietal cortex part of the brain.
How Can I Tell if My Child Has Apraxia?
No parent can ever be sure without taking their child to a GP who then refers them to someone in the speech pathology field. Self-diagnosis is discouraged, and even a neurologist or another medical practitioner can not provide a diagnosis.
Early signs of childhood apraxia include inconsistent and increased errors with word shapes and complex syllables, vowel errors, emphasis on single-syllable use, limited babbling in the early years of a child’s life, and a lack of phonetic diversity.
Every child is different, but awkwardness and clumsiness, motor skill delays, and even problems with smiling can all end up being signs of the condition. Once again, a referral from a GP to a speech pathologist is essential to receiving a diagnosis or ruling out the condition.
How Can Speech Pathology Help with Apraxia?
A diagnosis of apraxia made by a speech pathologist can kickstart a myriad of different treatment options to help. Childhood treatment is paramount for improvements to be made in later life. Sometimes, as many as five speech pathology sessions per week can be essential, depending on the severity of the condition.
During these sessions, children can learn how to make proper speech movements. Sensory, visual, and physical cues are also worked on so children can learn how to make appropriate sounds and movements.
How to Diagnose Apraxia
There is no single sure-fire way to diagnose apraxia, and each speech therapist may approach the situation differently. Opinions can also differ in the speech therapy field about which symptoms indicate apraxia, as well.
Most therapists will look for multiple symptoms to indicate the condition, such as the inability to recite or repeat a word accurately. An example of this would be play, playful, and playfully.
Interaction with the child is key to forming a diagnosis, which can involve using syllables, sounds, and words to find out how they communicate. Speech pathologists may also examine the child’s tongue, mouth, and face to look for any structural problems.
Any parent who has concern for their child should see a GP first and foremost. While a GP can not offer a diagnosis of apraxia, they can refer you to a speech pathologist who can diagnose or rule out a condition that may require treatment.