Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that affects children. Children with apraxia often are unable to produce the movements of the tongue that relate to speech. When children are diagnosed with CAS, many parents and clinicians focus on just helping a child speak, but it’s important to consider how children process information and comprehend what is being told to them. When a child has difficulty speaking, they might have issues with comprehension. Language processing is the mental operation that is used to understand and remember words, sounds and sentences. It all happens in the head, which makes diagnosing it more difficult. Speaking and understanding are directly linked, which is why children with CAS often experience language processing disorder and need treatment.
Symptoms of Comprehension Issues
Children often learn single words and have a large vocabulary, but they might not be able to understand whole phrase or sentences. You might feel like your child is not paying attention or simply “not trying.” Another common symptom of a comprehension problem is when a child operates more effectively in everyday situations rather than times when there are no clues for context. Your child might know a routine, but may repeatedly ask “Huh?” when in a newer situation. Abstract or complex sentences may not be understood, especially when spoken fast. If you are seeing these types of issues, it’s important to make sure the child has normal hearing. Speech-language pathologists offer auditory processing disorder treatment and speech therapy for apraxia.
Suggestion for Dealing With Language Processing Disorder
When a child has a language processing disorder, you’ll need to work with a speech and language pathologist to provide direct therapy to assist your child. There are things you can do at home to assist your child. Demonstrate that you don’t always understand when people speak to you. Don’t pretend you understand something when you really don’t. Show how to work with another person to fix a communication breakdown. You can also point out speech sounds in words. Make silly sound games or rhyming part of your daily routine. A tongue twister, such as “Sally sells seashells by the seashore,” helps your child understand how some words and sounds are very similar to each other. To help kids with articulation problems, you may need to slow down your own speech when talking to your child to ensure they don’t just “get by.” Teach them to ask someone to slow down when speaking or to re-explain. This way, as they get older, they have the tools they need to perform more effectively.