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Progressus Therapy

Developmental Apraxia of Speech

Suzanne Hungerford ., Ph.D,CCC

September 15, 2003



At what age is it possible to diagnose apraxia? Is apraxia in children a precursor to other disorders that may appear in the future? Is this different than dyspraxia?


First, dyspraxia is indeed the same as apraxia. Since the question is about children, I assumed that you're asking about what's called Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS) (also known as Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD)). This is a condition in which children have difficulty planning and sequencing the speech movements to realize speech sounds. The muscles themselves are not affected; that is, there is no weakness, spasticity, etc.

The diagnosis is not always easy to make because there is no single symptom that represents DAS. There is a constellation of symptoms that are commonly present in children considered to have DAS and these include: phonemic errors (often phoneme omissions), better receptive than expressive language, more articulatory errors with increasing length and complexity of words, inconsistent errors, articulatory groping when trying to speak, and vowel errors (Strand, 2000). Many children can be diagnosed at 3 years of age - which is a good time to start therapy. Diagnosis is more difficult in younger children.

DAS is also associated with difficulties in a child's phonological system. This puts children with DAS at risk for difficulties with phonological awareness - the ability to consciously parse, sequence, and manipulate the individual sounds (phonemes) that make up words. As a result, many later have difficulty with spelling, reading and writing - skills that depend heavily on the phonologic system.

Suzanne Hungerford, Ph.D., CCC/SLP is Associate Professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at Plattsburgh State University of New York. She is a member of the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS). Her research and teaching interests include pediatric neurologic communication disorders and special populations (e.g., pervasive developmental disorders and selective mutism).

Related Courses

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Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) requires multiple repetitions and practice of sounds, syllables, words, and sentences. This course will help you develop a treatment plan so you know where to begin, develop fun and exciting activities for preschoolers and provide you with home practice suggestions for families and caregivers.

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This course is focused on the treatment of children with speech sound disorders that involve varying degrees of motor planning/programming deficits (i.e., CAS). Specific techniques will be described and modeled, and service delivery options that maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of treatment outcomes will be discussed.

Special Education Eligibility: When is a Speech-Language Impairment Also a Disability?
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Determining a child’s eligibility for special education with a disability of speech-language impairment reflects specific requirements of special education law. This course will review the unique expectations of special education and provide recommendations on effective approaches to eligibility.

Primary Progressive Apraxia of Speech and Aphasia in a Complex Case of Neurodegenerative Disease, presented in partnership with Rush University
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The clinical presentation of progressive apraxia of speech and aphasia will be described. Recommendations for management of this condition will be provided. This course is presented in partnership with Rush University.

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This case-based presentation will describe the process of differential diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), and detail an initial treatment plan for a child with severe CAS based on dynamic assessment results. Evidence-based assessment tools and techniques will be described and demonstrated, and treatment planning will be briefly discussed.