Having and raising children is no small feat. Unfortunately, our minis do not come with instruction manuals and try as we might, we cannot predict everything they may face or deal with throughout their developmental years. Still, some challenges they face can be diagnosed early, including Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), commonly referred to as just Apraxia.
Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for our children to make sounds, syllables, and words with their mouths and jaw muscles. It is not that children with apraxia do not understand speech, the information to reciprocate just cannot make it out of their little brains. It is just as frustrating for them as it is for us parents trying to understand them.
As the owner and founder of Grey Matters of Carmel, I have first-hand experience with CAS. My son, Grey, was nonverbal before trying neurofeedback. Now, Grey is a bubbly, fun, talkative kid and keeps up with all his peers in school. However, it took me years to finally nail down Grey’s diagnosis. Now, I want to help you learn more and discover the early signs of CAS, too.
6 Early Signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Lack of Baby Babble
We all love the cooing and babbling sounds our babies make. As an infant grows and develops, they observe and try to mimic the sounds and words we make, eventually leading to their first words of ‘momma’ or ‘dada’ or ‘ball.’ Unfortunately, a baby with Apraxia will babble noticeably less than their peers – a lot less. Additionally, the onset of their first words will be delayed and is something you should certainly take note of.
Simplification of Words
As toddlers learn to talk more and more, they will simplify words but eventually learn to say them correctly. Unfortunately, CAS prevents this development, and we parents often notice that our child never grows out of saying a word incorrectly. It can be frustrating, but the key thing to remember is that your child is not doing it on purpose – Their little brains just are not processing information and motor skills correctly. Grey used to grunt his words out — “ah-ul” was “apple” and “ah-er” was “water,” for example.
Physically Appears to Struggle
Because CAS directly affects facial motor skills and capabilities, children find it challenging to move their tongues, lips, and jaws correctly – commonly referred to as oral groping. In most cases, your child may appear to pause for a length of time between words or phrases as they try to get their facial muscles to match the sound or expression in their brain. Parents notice this and assume their child has a stutter or speech delay when it is really CAS.
Difficulty Imitating Your Words or Sounds
The CAS brain incorrectly fires or sends the wrong signal, dramatically affecting how your child physically produces sounds and words. Your child can hear you and understand you fine, but their brain will not allow them to imitate that same sound or word back to you. The neural processes that need to take place to imitate you simply do not occur correctly.
Apraxia of speech also leaves children with limited intonation, meaning their speech might sound monotone or robotic. They will also make vowel sound errors and stress their words incorrectly. Additionally, it is not uncommon for CAS kids to segment longer words into syllables and vowels, saying each piece rather than blending the entire word or phrase together as one.
Words that Ghost
We know that CAS can be confusing, especially in the early years of development (think 18 months to 2 years). Your child is still learning words and the language, and it is not uncommon for neurotypical kids to forget words, but they always come back to it eventually. Unfortunately, this is not the case with CAS. A child might say a word once but then is unable to ever say it again – It disappears like a ghost.
How Neurofeedback Helps with CAS
Parents often struggle to find the right treatment path for their children. It can be scary and frustrating to navigate the ins and outs of CAS therapy and treatments. That is why we make it easy! Children with CAS often display low brain wave functionality in the areas associated with language and motor skills — Something that we can see on their brain maps.
Thankfully, this allows us to develop a personalized treatment plan to change those brain waves and create healthier, better-functioning pathways. Neurofeedback also calms down the Central Nervous System, which is usually dysregulated in children with CAS. By bringing calm and stability to their nervous systems and training the brain to create more sustainable and regulated informational pathways, we can help improve your child’s speech and communication.
If you’re ready to discover what neurofeedback can do for you and the entire family, get your free consultation from Grey Matters of Carmel today. We are accepting new patients and can treat all types of mental irregularities, including ADHD, anxiety, and concussions.