Apraxia of speech can be incredibly frustrating for children because they know what they want to say, but their mouth doesn't always cooperate. Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP, at Speech Success, holds an advanced certification in the evaluation and treatment of apraxia of speech. She implements an intensive speech therapy program that improves their ability to speak properly and enjoy communicating. Dr. Ahrens often uses PROMPT® speech therapy, a program that engages children's senses using items like pictures to represent the words they're learning to articulate. Then she builds on that connection using hand cues that help children learn and remember how to move the structure in their mouth. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Emerson, New Jersey, or use the online booking feature today.
Apraxia of speech is a neurological condition that affects your child's ability to express what they want to say. Your child can think of what they want to say, but the brain pathways responsible for speech don't function properly.
As a result, the brain can't tell the muscles in your child's mouth how to move to make sounds and words.
Children with apraxia may have noticeable behaviors such as opening their mouth as though they want to speak, but then nothing comes out.
Your child may pronounce the same word differently each time they say it, or they may say a difficult word once but have trouble repeating it. You may also notice they can say short words more easily or clearly than long words.
Many children with apraxia have difficulty with the rhythm and flow of speech. As a result, they put the stress on the wrong syllable, or their tone is off.
You may also notice that your child:
Your child may leave out sounds in words, switch the sounds around, or add sounds that aren't part of the word.
Some children with apraxia of speech may have a language disorder or problems with spelling, writing, and reading too.
Children don't outgrow apraxia. Since the problem is in their brains, they won't naturally improve. However, with speech therapy, they have hope for improving their skills.
Most children need frequent, one-on-one speech therapy at the start to get the consistent practice they need to improve apraxia. When working with children who need help with motor control, Dr. Ahrens often uses PROMPT® therapy. PROMPT therapists use their hands to help children make the jaw, lip, and tongue movements needed to produce sounds and words.
In severe cases, she teaches children alternative ways to express their thoughts, such as sign language, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS®), or electronic communication devices. These systems allow a child to communicate their wants and needs while working on their verbal communication skills in therapy.
Dr. Ahrens gives parents tips about the steps they can take at home to support their child's progress. When needed, she also offers guidance to schools for planning your child's individualized education program (IEP).
If you notice your child struggles to speak, call Speech Success or book an appointment online today.