Apraxia is a neurological motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to plan and execute a motor movement, even though their muscles are normal. The posterior parietal cortex of the brain is responsible for assisting a person in motor planning and the completion of a motor task with good control. If this area of the brain does not develop normally or is damage, it can cause a disruption of the messages from the brain to the muscles, resulting in an inability to perform the task requested. It doesn’t mean that your child has low intelligence or muscle weakness, but a “disconnect”, if you will, between the synchronization of the brain and muscles.
A mild form of apraxia can also be called dyspraxia. Other names for apraxia include developmental coordination disorder, motor planning difficulty, or motor learning difficulty. Some professionals may use terms like:
- Ideomotor dyspraxia: Makes it hard to complete single-step motor tasks such as combing hair and waving goodbye.
- Ideational dyspraxia: Makes it more difficult to perform a sequence of movements, like brushing teeth or making a bed.
- Oromotor dyspraxia, also called verbal apraxia or apraxia of speech: Makes it difficult to coordinate muscle movements needed to pronounce words. Kids with dyspraxia may have speech that is slurred and difficult to understand because they’re unable to enunciate.
- Constructional dyspraxia: Makes it harder to understand spatial relationships. Kids with this type of dyspraxia may have difficulty copying geometric drawings or using building blocks. (Understanding Apraxia by Erica Patino)
Apraxia may be seen at birth or acquired later in life. In a young child the symptoms of ataxia become apparent as the child develops and grows. Acquired apraxia is the term given to an apraxia that develops in a person who was previously able to perform the motor task. Some of the more common causes of acquired apraxia are traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, stroke, or a degenerative disease of the nervous system.
A child with a speech apraxia has difficulty saying words or making sounds correctly because they cannot move their tongue or lips to the correct position; their speech may be slurred or difficult to understand. In another form of motor apraxia affecting the extremities (arms and leg), a child may have difficulty figuring out how to move through an obstacle course, how to hold and manipulate a pencil, how to put on and button a shirt, etc.
Next week we will feature Part II of “Apraxia—What is It? How Can I Get Help for my Child?”
Blog Administrator: Trisha Roberts
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