FOCUS Therapy

FOCUS Therapy Dedicated to Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

This week, FOCUS Therapy was among the many organizations promoting awareness of childhood apraxia of speech, a motor speech disorder that typically becomes apparent as a young child is just learning to talk. The condition is often misdiagnosed because it is relatively rare, though our speech therapists in Fort Myers have successfully treated numerous children with this diagnosis.

The 2017 Apraxia Awareness Day was recognized May 14, the fifth year since it was designated by the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). The motto of the organization is, “Every Child Deserves a Voice.”

We work toward that goal in our own speech therapy program, with the firm belief that it starts with correctly identifying the condition early on, and beginning therapy as soon as possible. Children with apraxia who do not receive early intervention may have great difficulty developing speech that is intelligible – a problem that can lead to struggle in all aspects throughout their lives. This is precisely why Apraxia Awareness Day is so critically important. 

Childhood apraxia of speech affects approximately two children for every 1,000. For this reason, even many doctors don’t spot it right away. Unfortunately, even many speech therapists are inadequately trained to recommend a diagnosis and offer the right kind of treatment. At FOCUS Therapy, this is one of our special areas of expertise, one in which Owner and Founder Jennifer Voltz is highly skilled and experienced.

Given that most pediatricians have trouble recognizing CAS when it’s presented, we certainly don’t expect parents to know for sure either. However, most parents have an inkling their child may need some type of intervention when they fail to keep pace with the speech development of their peers. We have noted an (understandable) tendency to brush off concerns, trying not to compare children to their siblings or peers. They assume their child will catch up eventually. However, the truth of the matter is most children with a speech delay need intervention to reach their full functional capacity. That’s true regardless of whether it’s apraxia of speech or autism or Down Syndrome or simply a global developmental delay. Children with speech and language delays or difficulties may be exceptionally bright, but without help learning to effectively communicate, they may continue to struggle.

For youngsters with childhood apraxia of speech, closing that gap requires effective speech therapy. If you suspect your child may have a speech delay, our Southwest Florida clinic offers free screenings to help you assess whether further action is necessary.

As noted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there is no concrete list of features that solidly differentiates childhood apraxia of speech from other speech sound disorders. Still, some indications that might throw up a red flag include:

  • High rate of vowel distortions;
  • Delayed language development;
  • Limited babbling or limited variation within babbling;
  • Inconsistent sound errors.
  • Difficulty with the “melody” of speech.

The condition is also sometimes associated with non-speech issues, such as impaired oral movement (smiling, kissing, puckering), trouble with feeding and delays with fine or gross motor skills.

These are all issues our compassionate, dedicated speech therapists are ready to discuss and help you address.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

2017 Apraxia Awareness Day, May 14, 2017, CASANA

More Blog Entries:

Communication Temptations: How Speech Therapists Get Your Child to Talk, April 17, 2017, FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog

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