Apraxia of Speech (AOS) is a motor speech disorder in which voluntary movement of the articulators and sequencing of speech sounds is impaired. AOS may be acquired or developmental.
Acquired apraxia may result from stroke, head injury, brain tumors, toxins or infections. It often co-occurs with dysarthria and aphasia, as these conditions are all caused by damage to the area of the brain responsible for speech and language.
Individuals with apraxia may demonstrate:
- difficulty imitating and producing speech sounds, marked by speech errors such as sound distortions, substitutions, and/or omissions;
- inconsistent speech errors;
- groping of the tongue and lips to make specific sounds and words;
- slow speech rate;
- impaired rhythm and prosody (intonation) of speech;
- better automatic speech (e.g., greetings) than purposeful speech;
- inability to produce any sound at all in severe cases.
Speech-language pathologists use a variety of approaches in treating AOS, and treatment must be tailored to the needs of the individual. Frequent, intensive (3-5 times per week), one-on-one treatment has proven most effective, and speech-language problems that co-occur with AOS must also addressed during therapy. Family participation is strongly encouraged to help the client practice new skills and use them in outside environments.
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