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Motor Speech Disorders

  • MSDs include dysarthria and apraxia of speech; neurological-based; occurs when there is disruption between parts of the brain and additional parts of the body required for speech


  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder where the planning and programming required for speech is impaired. While treatment for articulation and phonology disorders focuses on individual sounds/patterns of sounds, treatment for CAS prioritizes the movements and proprioception required for intelligible and efficient speech production. 

  • Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder where the execution of speech is impaired typically due to a brain injury, but can also occur in childhood. This can present with muscle weakness, slurred speech, difficulty regulating volume and/or speaking rate, resonance disturbance, and/or robotic or choppy sounding speech. Treatment primarily focuses on targeting the deficits specific to each client while incorporating cues for movement and proprioception.


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The evaluation process for a motor speech disorder is typically more in-depth and lengthier than a "traditional" speech assessment. Assessment for a motor speech disorder most commonly includes a structure functional examination to assess structure and function of the articulators and respiration at rest, in speech tasks, and non-speech tasks; a speech sound assessment; a speech/language sample; and a dynamic motor speech examination. If this is the first evaluation conducted by a speech-language pathologist, a language assessment will also be conducted. 

There are a variety of treatment approaches for motor-based speech disorders such as dysarthria and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Depending on differential diagnosis, etiology, client participation, and family involvement, treatment will be tailor-made to the client's specific needs. One can expect for a motor-based disorder to be treated more intensely than a single sound error/substitution. Best practice includes incorporating principles of motor learning for all speech sound disorders, including motor speech disorders. 


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Remember- movement is key, not individual sounds!


The Once Upon a Time Foundation and Child Apraxia Treatment provide evidence-based resources and information for caregivers and clinicians. Support is offered in the form of informative videos, research articles, blog posts, etc. 

Apraxia Kids is a non-profit organization that provides evidence-based resources and information for caregivers and clinicians. Apraxia Kids also provides community support opportunities and hosts a yearly conference in July.  

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