Apraxia: Symptoms, Causes, Tests, Treatments
Are There Tests to Diagnose Apraxia of Speech? continued...
When diagnosing apraxia, experts may look for the presence of other symptoms. For instance, they may look for weakness or difficulties with language comprehension. Both of these are indicative of other conditions and their presence would help rule out apraxia. For people with possible acquired apraxia, an MRI of the brain may be useful to determine the extent and location of any brain damage.
Typically, a diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech cannot be made before a child's second birthday. Before this time, most children are unable to understand or perform the tasks needed to determine the presence of apraxia.
Are There Treatments for Apraxia of Speech?
In some cases of acquired apraxia, the condition resolves spontaneously. This is not the case with developmental apraxia of speech, which does not go away without treatment.
There are various treatment approaches used for apraxia. How effective they are can vary from person to person. For the best results, apraxia treatment must be developed to meet a given individual's needs. Most children with apraxia of speech benefit from meeting one on one with a speech-language pathologist three to five times a week. They may also need to work with their parents or guardians to practice the skills they are developing.
Therapy for childhood apraxia of speech aims to improve speech coordination. Exercises may include:
- Repeatedly practicing the formation and pronunciation of sounds and words
- Practicing stringing together sounds to make speech
- Working with rhythms or melodies
- Using multisensory approaches, such as watching in a mirror while trying to form words or touching the face while talking
Many therapists believe that sign language is beneficial for children who have difficulty being understood. They often recommend that children attempt to say the words they are signing to practice making the necessary movements with their mouths.
People with more extreme cases of acquired apraxia may also benefit from sign language. Or they may use assistive electronic devices, including computers that can be used to produce words and sentences.
Very few studies have been done to determine the relative effectiveness of various treatment approaches for childhood apraxia of speech. This may be due, in part, to ongoing debate among experts as to which symptoms and characteristics merit a diagnosis of apraxia.