Speech Apraxia: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Speech apraxia is a condition where a person finds it difficult to move his or her mouth to speak, despite the muscles being normal. Read this lesson to find out the symptoms and treatment options for a person with speech apraxia.

What is Speech Apraxia?

Apraxia is a neurological disorder where a person has problems getting his or her muscles to do what they want, even though the muscles are physically fine. How frustrating! Speech apraxia is a specific type of the condition where a person has trouble moving the muscles in his or her mouth and tongue, making it difficult - or impossible - to speak.

Speech apraxia has two different forms: acquired apraxia and developmental apraxia. Acquired apraxia can occur at any stage of life, but usually it affects adults who lose the ability to speak over time. They previously had no problems until the condition presented itself later in life. With developmental apraxia, a child is born with the condition and has trouble forming words and speaking from the very beginning.

Symptoms of Speech Apraxia

There are a number of different symptoms that may result due to speech apraxia. In children, they may make few attempts to talk during infancy. For example, the random babbling typically heard from babies may not be present. In general, a person with speech apraxia may try to repeat a word over and over without being able to properly say it. They might have difficultly stringing syllables of words together, or they may not be able to do it at all. This is especially apparent with long or complex words. They might place the accent on the wrong syllable of the word or be able to say a word correctly only part of the time. Finally, some people have difficulties with just certain vowels or consonants found only at the beginning or end of a word. In any case, the person knows what they want to say, and their muscles are capable of making the movement; however, there is a disconnect and they just struggle or fail to speak smoothly.

Causes of Speech Apraxia

So what causes speech apraxia? Usually, there has been some type of damage to the area of the brain that controls the ability to speak. In acquired apraxia, this damage could be caused by brain tumors, head trauma, or stroke. However, the causes of developmental apraxia in children are still mostly unknown.

There are many regions of the brain responsible for different aspects of speaking, and trauma can bring about speech apraxia.
regions of the brain

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