What is Verbal Dyspraxia?

 

Verbal dyspraxia is a type of dyspraxia that can affect a person’s speech. Different terms for it include developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD) childhood apraxia for speech (CAS – apraxia is another term for dyspraxia) or developmental apraxia of speech (DAS).

 

This disorder can show when a child is first learning to speak. The child may “have difficulty planning and co-ordinating their movement of muscles used” such as their tongue, lips, jaw and palate “to produce the right speech sounds or words. There is no physical damage to the child’s nerves or muscles used in speech because they are affected by the brain.

 

The signs and symptoms of verbal dyspraxia include the following:

 

  • Difficulty making sounds
  • Difficulty repeating sequences of sounds or words
  • Making different mistakes when saying the same words
  • Difficulty with intonation, such as speaking in a monotone voice
  • Having a very limited vocabulary
  • Speaking more slowly than fellow peers
  • Using more pauses and fewer words
  • Making searching movements with their lips and tongue when trying to say a sound.
  • Being unable to speak or gesture at all
  • Sometimes being able to say automatic phrases such as counting, but not able to engage in conversations
  • Having ‘jumbled up ‘sounding speech and be difficult to understand
  • Becoming stuck on a word or a sound
  • Taking a lot of effort for them to speak

 

Parents who are concerned about their child’s speech should book an appointment with their GP. The GP may refer the child to a speech pathologist. The parent and child can visit the speech pathologist in private. Adults who have verbal dyspraxia may want to visit GPs and speech pathologists alone or accompanied by another adult.

 

Treatment for verbal dyspraxia includes speech therapy that is carried out by therapists who specialise in the condition. This might be more beneficial for children who have mild verbal dyspraxia. People who have more severe verbal dyspraxia could find sign language more helpful.

 

Practical suggestions that others can try when communicating with a person who has verbal dyspraxia include the following:

 

  • Respecting the person with verbal dyspraxia as an equal
  • Allowing them time to get their message across
  • Facing the person when talking to them
  • Sitting and/or standing close to the person when they are together
  • Trying to talk in a quiet environment
  • Asking questions that require shorter answers
  • Asking specific questions to help identify the subject being discussed such as, “Is there anything you need help with?”
  • Being honest and telling the person when they are hard to understand

 

Sources

 

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne’s Verbal dyspraxia: https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Verbal_dyspraxia/

 

NHS York Teaching Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust’s Verbal Dyspraxia: https://www.yorkhospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/a-z-of-services/speech-and-language-therapy/speech-and-language-therapy—adult-services/verbal-dyspraxia/

 

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