A broad understanding of apraxia is that it is a neurological condition. People who have it find it difficult or impossible to make certain motor movements, even though their muscles are normal. Milder forms of apraxia are known as dyspraxia.
Apraxia can occur in a number of different forms. One form is orofacial apraxia. People with orofacial apraxia are unable to voluntarily perform certain movements involving facial muscles. For instance, they may not be able to lick their lips or wink. Another form of apraxia affects a person's ability to intentionally move arms and legs.
With apraxia of speech a person finds it difficult or impossible to move his or her mouth and tongue to speak.
Acquired apraxia results from brain damage to those areas of the brain that control the ability to speak. Conditions that may produce acquired apraxia include head trauma, stroke, or a brain tumor.
There are a variety of speech-related symptoms that can be associated with apraxia, including:
- Difficulty stringing syllables together in the appropriate order to make words or inability to do so
- Minimal babbling during infancy
- Difficulty saying long or complex words
- Repeated attempts at pronunciation of words
- Speech inconsistencies, such as being able to say a sound or word properly at certain times but not others
- Incorrect inflections or stresses on certain sounds or words
- Excessive use of nonverbal forms of communication
- Distorting of vowel sounds
- Omitting consonants at the beginnings and ends of words
- Seeming to struggle to make words
Therapy for apraxia of speech aims to improve speech coordination.
A Speech Language Pathologist can use the following exercises as a part of the treatment program:
- 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.
- Oral Placement Therapy techniques