Verbal Apraxia Treatment at Language Fundamentals

Verbal Apraxia, also known as acquired Apraxia of Speech or AOS, is a speech sound disorder. People with Apraxia have trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. Apraxia is a neurological disorder that affects the brain pathways involved in planning the sequence of movements involved in producing speech. The brain knows what it wants to say but cannot properly plan and sequence the required speech sound movements.

Apraxia is not caused by weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles (the muscles of the jaw, tongue, or lips). Some people have both Dysarthria and Apraxia, which can make diagnosis of the two conditions more difficult.

The severity of Apraxia varies from person to person. It can be so mild that it causes trouble with only a few speech sounds or with pronunciation of words that have many syllables. In the most severe cases, a person with Apraxia of Speech might not be able to communicate effectively by speaking and may need the help of alternative communication methods.

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People with Apraxia may have several different speech characteristics, or symptoms:

o          Distorting sounds. People with Apraxia may have difficulty pronouncing words correctly. Sounds, especially vowels, are often distorted. Because the speaker may not place the speech structures (e.g., tongue, jaw) quite in the right place, the sound comes out wrong. Longer or more complex words are usually harder to say than shorter or simpler words. Sound substitutions might also occur when Apraxia is accompanied by aphasia.

o          Making inconsistent errors in speech. For example, someone with Apraxia may say a difficult word correctly but then have trouble repeating it, or may be able to say a particular sound one day and have trouble with the same sound the next day.

o          Groping for sounds. People with Apraxia often appear to be groping for the right sound or word, and may try saying a word several times before they say it correctly.

o          Making errors in tone, stress, or rhythm. Another common characteristic of Apraxia is the incorrect use of prosody, which is the rhythm and inflection of speech that we use to help express meaning. Someone who has trouble with prosody might use equal stress, segment syllables in a word, omit syllables in words and phrases, or pause inappropriately while speaking.

Speech language pathologists from Language Fundamentals use different approaches to treat Apraxia since no single approach has been proven to be the most effective. Therapy is tailored to the individual and is designed to treat other speech or language problems that may occur together with Apraxia. Frequent, intensive, one-on-one speech-language therapy sessions are needed for adults with Apraxia.

In severe cases, adults with Apraxia may need to find other ways to express themselves. These might include formal or informal sign language; a notebook with pictures or written words that can be pointed to and shown to other people; or an electronic communication device—such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer - which can be used to write or produce speech.