Pediatric Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Therapy, And Physical Therapy for Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and other special needs

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Childhood Apraxia of Speech| What is it?

Apraxia is caused by brain disease or brain damage. The brain is unable to make and deliver correct movement instructions to the body.

One type of apraxia affects speech. The brain struggles with lip, jaw and tongue movements. Other types affect the accuracy of limb movements, response to verbal commands and facial movements, such as winking.

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech.

Oral Motor Deficits | How Is It Different From Apraxia?

The muscles of the oral mechanism include the muscles of the lip, tongue, and jaw. Very often when these muscles are weak your child will present with an open mouth position with the tongue placed anteriorly.

Your child might experience severe drooling and have difficulty eating, drinking and maintaining a closed seal around a straw. Weakness of the lips, tongue and jaw will most certainly impact your child’s ability to produce precise articulation (movements of the tongue, lips and jaw) and will likely result in adversely affecting your child’s ability to produce understandable speech.

Additionally, low tone may result in difficulty chewing, swallowing and can result in an inability to stick the tongue out, or move it from side to side. Drooling can also be caused by weakness in the muscles of the mouth. Strengthening these muscles can be very important in improving both feeding deficits and speech intelligibility.

During mealtime, weakness of the muscles of the lip, tongue, or jaw can have a negative impact on the ability to maneuver the food laterally and posteriorly in the mouth as well as efficiently removing the food from the spoon or fork, and swallowing. A heightened gag reflex and frequent choking may be caused by weak oral motor muscles, which make feeding your child quite challenging.

Treatment may include pediatric physical, speech and occupational therapy.

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