Our Founder, Miranda Daisy is extremely passionate about working with people with additional needs and is constantly researching different types of physical, verbal and learning disabilities.
It came to my attention that Tuesday 13th May is Childhood Speech Apraxia Day, a speech disorder that I do not know much about. I reached out to Miss Danni, one of our Perform-Ability instructors who is studying Speech Pathology to learn more.
Q. Hey Miss Danni! Can you tell me in a quick sentence, what is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to clearly produce sounds. Articulating is difficult because messages from the brain to the mouth do not come through correctly, which affects the coordination of the muscles in the mouth used to make sounds.
Q. I came across CAS as it was listed as a disability awareness day. Would you consider CAS as a disability or more of a speech impediment?
It is considered a speech disorder but depending on the severity it could also become a disability. If you are unable to speak and be understood that could severely affect your quality of life and your ability to participate. When this occurs, having CAS would be a disability.
Q. Is the reason that it is called Childhood Apraxia of Speech because it is something that you can improve on with therapy or grow out of? Is there adult apraxia of speech? What therapy would be used to help improve the speech for a child with CAS?
CAS is discovered in childhood. Treatment for CAS is frequent speech therapy to help improve the coordination of speech. This therapy provides the child with the means to practice planning, programming and then producing accurate movements for speech. However, if the CAS is severe, then improving speech coordination may not be possible. In this case the speech pathologist would provide ways to communicate non-verbally such as picture boards or a speech generating device. Apraxia of speech in adulthood is usually caused by a stroke or other trauma to the brain. Therapy is similar to that of CAS.
Q. Do we know what triggers CAS?
Currently, most of the causes are unknown. However, some children may have CAS as a part of a larger neurological diagnosis such as stroke or as part of a genetic disorder.
Q. Does CAS have a spectrum of ability? How does this affect the child’s social skills?
Yes, like most speech disorders there is a range from mild to severe. The severity affects the child’s ability to participate socially in many ways. For children with CAS, it takes a lot of energy to produce speech, so children may shy away from social situations to avoid conversation. It also causes mispronunciation so children with CAS may not participate as they are worried they might say the wrong thing. Severe CAS may result in the inability to speak at all, which as you can imagine affects every aspect of life. Think about how hard it would be to get across your needs and wants to someone without using speech. Any disorder that affects your ability to communicate affects your quality of life and participation in some way. This true for CAS.