What are the symptoms of Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a severe speech disorder that affects two to three children per 1,000. To put it simply, with CAS, the physical structures of the mouth are fine but the message is not getting from the brain to the mouth to produce clear speech.
Some of the characteristics to look for that differentiate this speech disorder from other speech disorders include but are not limited to:
- adding extra sounds or syllables to words.
- reversing sounds or syllables, such as "shif" for "fish."
- more difficulty with words that have two or more syllables.
- saying a word one day and losing it the next day or even the next minute.
- moving the mouth in funny ways to attempt to say a word before speaking.
- changing vowel sounds when talking.
Almost all children with CAS are late talkers, so these symptoms will show up when they begin to talk. That could be as early as 24 months or as late as 3 or 4 years old. However, all children who are not talking by the time they are 18 months old should be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist.
A rule of thumb I always tell parents is that if you are at all concerned with your child's speech and language development, at any age, have him evaluated. Do not "wait and see" as some professionals may suggest. Due to how the brain develops, it's easier to learn language before the age of 5. So the earlier speech or language disorders are treated, the better the outcome will be.
Don't get hung up on an early diagnosis though. CAS can't be consistently diagnosed before the age of 4. That's because there are other speech disorders that have similar symptoms. What matters is getting treatment for the difficulties your child is having.