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Friday, September 15, 2017

Apraxia—What is It? How Can I Get Help for my Child? Part II By Trisha Roberts

Two weeks ago we presented basic information about apraxia.  This week we continue with more specific information regarding symptoms, seeking an evaluation, and getting treatment. These problems are usually seen in early childhood.  Consider some of the common problems with Motor Apraxia and Speech Apraxia.

Symptoms of Motor Apraxia May Include:

  • Your baby may be slow to reach their milestones like rolling, sitting, or crawling
  • Walking with a wide base of support (after age 2)
  • Failure to develop a heel-toe gait pattern—a child who continues to take short steps with a flat foot
  • Doesn’t like to play with puzzles, Legos, or other construction-type toys

  • A messy eater (remember that all young children take time to learn the art of controlling a fork and spoon!)
  • Inability to run in a smooth, coordinated fashion
  • Inability to jump, gallop, or skip
  • Clumsiness
  • May have trouble with dressing and fasteners like zippers and buttons

  • Has difficulty gripping a crayon or using scissors
  • Difficulty riding a tricycle
  • A child that appears clumsy, even though their muscles are not weak
  • Difficulty learning new motor tasks
  • May not be potty-trained by age 3
  • Difficulty throwing a ball
  • May take a long time to develop a hand preference—right or left

  • Difficulty stringing syllables together in the appropriate order to make words, or inability to do so
  • Minimal babbling during infancy
  • Your baby may have difficulty eating
  • Difficulty saying long or complex words
  • May not be able to talk by age 3
  • Repeated attempts at pronunciation of words

  • Speech inconsistencies, such as being able to say a sound or word properly at certain times but not others
  • Incorrect inflections or stresses on certain sounds or words
  • Excessive use of nonverbal forms of communication
  • Distorting of vowel sounds
  • Omitting consonants at the beginnings and ends of words
  • Seeming to grope or struggle to make words

Childhood apraxia of speech rarely occurs alone. It is often accompanied by other language or cognitive deficits, which may cause:
  • Limited vocabulary
  • Grammatical problems
  • Problems with coordination and fine motor skills
  • Difficulties chewing and swallowing

In a recent study, “How Valid Is the Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder When a Child Has Apraxia of Speech?” in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the investigating team concluded that there was a high correlation between children with Autism and children with Apraxia of Speech.  Their recommendation was to monitor all children on the Autism Spectrum for problems with apraxia and to monitor or screen all children with Speech Apraxia for signs of Autism. Seeking professional help for diagnosing and treating your child is a wise move. The earlier children are diagnosed, the soon treatment can begin.  Accessing resources early can lead to better outcomes.  Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy are recommended services for children diagnosed with apraxia.  In fact, these therapists are the ones who usually make the diagnoses.


Apraxia can affect some children mildly or be more severe. If your child is exhibiting several of these symptoms, you should seek a professional evaluation.

A Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP or Speech Therapist) will be able to evaluate your child to see if they are exhibiting a Speech Apraxia.

 A Physical Therapist should be engaged to determine if your child has a Motor Apraxia; if there are more concerns regarding Fine Motor skills like hand writing, cutting, and dressing, an Occupational Therapist should be your first choice.  Children don’t outgrow apraxia, but they can be taught strategies for dealing with the symptoms.  Children with dyspraxia may improve their muscle tone and coordination over time with support and treatment.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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