Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

CAS is a speech disorder characterised by the difficulty organising and planning the oral muscles to make voluntary movements in order to produce speech sounds.

Characteristics of CAS include.

  • difficulty saying words or sounds when pressure is applied (when they are told to do so),
  • difficulty sequencing sounds to form words,
  • difficulty with longer words and sentences,
  • searching movements when trying to make speech sounds,
  • slow progress with learning new sounds
  • the use of their own system (gestures) to communicate

CAS is not due to muscle weakness rather a weakness is the neural (nerve) pathways to the muscles. CAS can affect the muscles for speech (verbal dyspraxia), the muscles for eating (oral dyspraxia) or the muscles for completing motor movements such as running or drawing (motor dyspraxia).

CAS can co-occur with other disabilities such as Autism and Hearing Impairment or can occur on its own.

The Speech Pathologists’ role in treating children with CAS involves teaching them new sounds and teaching the child to use these sounds easily without cueing or careful concentration in words and then sentences. The child will need to get the production of the sounds more accurate and produced rapidly to enable the sounds to be added to the words and then words to form sentences.

A child with CAS will not just “outgrow it”. The majority of children with intensive treatment will eventually be able to functionally communicate using speech.

Children with dyspraxia often make significant progress in therapy however therapy needs to be individual, frequent and intense.