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Genetic and Neurological Correlates of Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Genetic and Neurological Correlates of Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Barbara Lewis
March 14, 2011


This text-based course is a written transcript of the course, "Genetic and Neurological Correlates of Childhood Apraxia of Speech," presented by Barbara Lewis, Ph.D., CCC-SLP on October 14, 2011.

Click Here to View Supplemental Handouts

>> Amy: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's Expert eSeminar presented by Dr. Barbara Lewis entitled "Genetic and Neurological Correlates of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. As you know, today's seminar is a part of a week-long series of seminars on childhood apraxia of speech and we're very pleased that you could join us today.

At this time I would like to introduce Dr. Barbara Lewis. Barbara Lewis is a Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences at Case Western University. She has conducted research on the genetic basis of speech sound disorders and Childhood Apraxia of Speech for over 20 years. Her interests include longitudinal follow up studies of children with early childhood speech sound disorders and the relationship of language and literacy to speech sound disorders. Most recently she has developed functional imaging studies of individuals with CAS and other speech sound disorders. So welcome, Dr. Lewis, and thank you so much for joining us today.

>> Dr. Lewis: Thank you, Amy. Today I get to share with you some of my research on genetics and neuroimaging that I have been doing.


First, I want to start by talking about how genetic studies are important to our field. In the past decade or so, genetics has taken off exponentially and new techniques come out weekly to study genes.

What does this all mean to the field of speech pathology? In the work that we've been doing we find that there are candidate genes that reside in chromosome regions that influence neural development. It is our hope that if we can identify the relationship of genes to neural processes and the resulting speech and language behavior, then we will be able to identify differences and deficits in individuals with speech sound disorders, in general, and specifically in childhood apraxia of speech.

Ultimately we hope that as we identify specific components that are in deficit in individuals with speech sound disorders we will be able to tailor therapy that will treat the specific deficit rather than provide a generic type of therapy for all children with childhood apraxia of speech.

We believe that neuroimaging techniques might be able to track the effectiveness of our therapy. There has been some research on dyslexia that has tested children pre- and post therapy that has shown that neurological changes actually occurred. This is a very exciting topic and very relevant to our field.

What I want to do today is to take some time to:

  • Discuss genetic studies as a whole.

  • Discuss speech sound disorders, and I consider apraxia to be a subtype of a speech sound disorder.

  • Review some of the genetic studies that have been done to date.

  • Discuss the functional imaging studies we've been piloting and some future directions that we hope to take with this line of research.

Justification for Genetic Studies

Often I am asked, "What is the justification for genetic studies? Why should we be concerned about the genetics? Aren't we just treating the behavior?" There are several reasons why we should study the genetics of speech and language disorders. First, we hope that identifying genes for speech and language disorders will allow us to identify at-risk children earlier and, hopefully, implement some environmental intervention at a younger age. We want to understand some of the normal processes of speech and language production, and identifying genes for normal speech and language might help us do that.

barbara lewis

Barbara Lewis

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