Upon noticing speech delays in a child, most parents immediately tend to think it is because of the typical slow-down in their speaking processes as a child. In contrast, not everyone considers the underlying potential problem of childhood apraxia of speech in children who take up to 1 to 2 years to speak their first words.
Yes, you are not the only one. So don’t worry if it took you some time, but if you observe slower than average speech delays in your child, it might be best to consult a doctor. Your child could be suffering from Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech – or more commonly referred to as CAS, is the inability of children to form words and utter any from their mouths. This is because, in order to speak, your brain needs to send messages of how and when to move to your mouth muscles. But a CAS child cannot move the mouth muscles because the messages sent from the brain are not coherent enough. This is not because of the weakness of muscles but has more to do with the messages sent from the brain.
In some CAS cases, a child cannot move his mouth or tongue properly while speaking, whereas, in others, they are not able to speak at all. In reality, children with CAS perfectly know what to say, but their brain fails to convey the messages and instruct the mouth muscles to move accurately.
Symptoms and Signs to Catch CAS
Before a doctor can diagnose your child’s CAS, you should be able to catch it early on in order to prevent it from advancing any further. When looking for signs and symptoms of CAS, keep in mind that not all cases are identical to one another. You could notice some of the signs mentioned below in your child or maybe all of them. It is better to consult a doctor and get a complete professional diagnosis.
The signs and symptoms to catch in a child older than 3 years old are:
- The difference in pronunciation or inability to form words at times
- Tend to focus on the wrong word or syllable
- Change or distort the sounds of the words
- Can form shorter words compared to longer words
In children younger than 3 years old, there could be other signs, including:
- Delayed language
- Difficulty in fine skills of motor
- Issues with the ability to write, read, or spell words
How to Diagnose CAS?
The process of diagnosis of CAS begins at the doctor’s clinic. No matter how extensively your research regarding the topic is, there can be no better professional than a certified doctor. Upon consultation, your doctor will inquire about your child’s medical history and examine them. Upon noticing any signs of CAS, the doctor will then directly recommend you to be a speech therapist for further diagnosis.
Furthermore, the speech therapists of CAS children carry out specific tests to confirm the diagnosis. In these tests, the therapist will focus on listening to how and what sounds, words, and sentences your child can speak precisely.
Facts Regarding CAS
Being the parent of a child suffering from CAS can indeed be confusing and certainly challenging to deal with early on. So in this article, we will talk about the do’s and don’ts of parenthood as a guardian of a child facing difficulties of CAS. Before delving into that, here are some hard facts about Childhood of Apraxia of Speech children every parent should be aware of – as it can help deal with the cases better:
- CAS exists as a rare disorder. It is stated to be found in one of 1,000 children worldwide.
- It is primarily characterized as amongst many motor speech disorders and found to be inconsistent. Hence, we can’t guarantee that there is or will ever be a one-size-fits-all treatment for all cases of CAS. Each child gets a customized CAS treatment from their respective speech therapists.
- Certified and professional speech therapists must always make the final diagnosis of CAS to be considered.
- If you put a child suffering from CAS through traditional speech therapy tests and treatments, they might never show any signs of improvement. Hence, only certified speech therapists can prescribe treatments and tests for CAS children. CAS patients might be in need of treatments based on motor learning principles.
- For causes, there hasn’t ever been a concrete answer to the definite causes of CAS in a child. It could have resulted from anything ranging from stores, brain tumors, brain injuries, or any kind of genetic disorders in their central nervous systems.
- Before they can speak and get full treatments, CAS children communicate through sign languages or picture boards which they must learn early.
Do’s and Don’ts for a Parent of a CAS Child
Children with imperfect brain development, injuries, strokes, brain deficiencies, or motor delay issues can often suffer from CAS. But it is much more complicated than it may sound, especially for a parent.
If your child has just gone through a CAS diagnosis, then here are some do’s and don’ts you must take care of:
- Please do not get frustrated and always acknowledge and respond to their in-coherent and imperfect efforts of making communications.
- If speaking or making proper syllables is something that does not come easy to them, teach them other ways of communication and always be cooperative.
- Even if your child can’t often respond or even understand what you are saying, still talk to them. This is the best way to teach them the art of speaking.
- Is your child given a list of phrases and words to practice at home as speech therapy? Then make them a part of their daily syllable and activity at home.
- Don’t frequently correct your child for their wrong speaking turns or phrases. Let them be independent with their words and speech throughout treatment.
- Don’t bombard your child with hundreds of questions and overwhelm them in any way.
- Do not try to make your child repeat an incorrect word, as it can be derogatory for them. Consult the problem with the speech therapist and let them help your child.
In the end, CAS is not something that can not be diagnosed or treated early on in a child. All you, as a parent, have to do is look for signs and symptoms in case your child is unable to start speaking till 2 to 3 years of age. Through solid diagnosis and treatment, your child can counter this difficulty in a short period.
Hope AMC is one of the best child rehabilitation centers in Dubai. We have the most experienced and competent speech therapists in our team. Our therapists analyze the children’s conditions and design therapy plans that are suited to the child’s individual needs. We also teach and assist parents on how to support their children throughout the therapy.
Click here to Consult our top speech therapist today.
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