What is Apraxia/Verbal Dyspraxia? – a brief introduction

I’ve agreed with Joanna Bendel, an apraxia of speech advocate based in US, to work on raising awareness of speech apraxia/developmental verbal dyspraxia via social media. This is the first of a series of posts.

In particular, in the UK there is less awareness about this particular speech disorder and I’ve found that not many people know about it.

What is apraxia of speech/verbal dyspraxia?

Apraxia of speech (AOS)—also known as acquired apraxia of speech, verbal apraxia, or childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) when diagnosed in children—is a speech sound disorder. In the UK it can be referred to as verbal dyspraxia or developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD).

AOS/DVD is a neurological disorder that affects the brain pathways involved in planning the sequence of movements involved in producing speech. In other words, someone with AOS/DVD has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently.

In a nutshell, the individual knows what he/she wants to say but cannot properly plan and sequence the required speech sound movements.

Apraxia/Verbal Dyspraxia is defined as an inability to execute a voluntary movement, despite being able to demonstrate normal muscle function.

AOS/DVD is not caused by weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles (the muscles of the jaw, tongue, or lips). Weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles results in a separate speech disorder, known as dysarthria. Some people may have both dysarthria and AOS, which can make diagnosis of the two conditions more difficult.

The severity of AOS/DVD 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, someone with AOS/DVD might not be able to communicate effectively by speaking and may need the help of alternative communication methods, such as a communication aid.

References:

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Dyspraxia Foundation

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