Children who have CAS have difficulty with production in saying sounds, syllables or words. Muscle weakness or paralysis does not cause CAS, it is caused when the brain doesn’t connect well with body parts like lips, jaw or tongue which are necessary for correct speech production. Most children know exactly what they want to express however their brain cannot coordinate the muscle movements that are required to say the words.
Some tools used with children, as an alternative to form speech approximations is sign language or an Alternative Communication System (AAC) device. Some families fear that using tools like signing or AAC devices will replace all forms of communication however that is not the case with CAS. CAS can be very difficult and frustrating for the child and having an alternative aide can be very helpful. When speech production is improved then the need for alternative support systems will reduce.
A crucial component to supporting your child’s improvement of speech is practicing at home and educating family members about CAS. Children with CAS need a supportive environment that helps them feel productive with communication. Most families will receive assignments “homework” to help their child’s progress to apply at home and in other settings in order to assure maximum development in therapy. Remember treatment of apraxia of speech takes time and dedication and will not happen overnight but with persistence and consistency, your child will improve his or her communication!