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better hearing and speech month BHSM 2021 building connections

May 4, 2021-- Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides the district an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of speech-language pathologists in providing life-altering treatment.

This week the focus is on childhood apraxia of speech. What is apraxia?

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a neurological childhood (pediatric) speech sound disorder in which the precision and consistency of movements underlying speech are impaired in the absence of neuromuscular deficits (e.g., abnormal reflexes, abnormal tone). In simpler terms, the brain sends the message to the mouth to move the articulators such as the tongue and lips in a specific pattern to produce sounds; however, the muscles of the mouth are not coordinated enough to be able to produce them as it is heard in the brain. (ASHA, 2007b, Definitions of CAS section, para. 1). Apraxia is not a medical diagnosis. There is no medical test, genetic test, brain scans, blood tests that diagnose childhood apraxia of speech. It is a speech label to describe a speech disorder. Speech-language pathologists are trained to provide a dynamic evaluation for childhood speech apraxia. The biggest red flags for childhood apraxia of speech are:

  • Limited vocalizations in the first two years of life
  • Lack of a consonant by 12 months of age
  • Use of fewer than 3 consonants by 16 months of age
  • Use of fewer than 5 consonants by 24 months of age
  • Limited to no velar (/k, g/) productions
  • Favoritism of stops (/p, b, d, t/) and nasals (/m, n/) over other consonants
  • Productions at 13-18 months are largely vowels, with little use of other syllable shapes

Stay tuned for more in-depth explorations of hearing and speech during the month of May.