Developmental apraxia of speech is characterized by the inability to plan and execute motor-speech tasks. More specifically, it is the inability to coordinate oral movements that are necessary to form syllables and words in the absence of oral paresis or paralysis. The speech of children with developmental apraxia of speech is filled with inconsistent articulation errors. The errors in this population increase with word length. These children exhibit more errors in consonants than in vowels, especially in the initial consonants of words and in consonant clusters (Wertz, LaPointe, and Rosenbek, 1991).
Children who are able to produce many sounds in isolation, yet exhibit difficulty maintaining sound combinations, reduce the number of syllables in simple words, or inconsistently substitute sounds are appropriate candidates for a speech-language evaluation. A speech-language evaluation should also be complemented with a detailed case history, as certain answers may assist in the diagnosis of developmental apraxia.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2007) identified the features consistent with the developmental apraxia diagnosis. These features include inconsistent errors on consonants and vowels in repeated syllables or words, lengthened and disrupted co-articulatory transitions between sounds and syllables, and inappropriate prosody (ASHA, 2007).
Rose Costanzo MA CF-SLP, TSSLD