The prevalence of apraxia of speech in adults doesn’t occur at nearly the rate it does in children. However, it frequently accompanies aphasia post-stroke or brain injury. Download our “3 Tips to Help Adults with Apraxia of Speech.”
When someone experiences brain damage due to stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, tumors, or progressive neurological disorders, there is a strong possibility that apraxia of speech will follow. This decrease in motor planning disorder means that messages from the brain to the mouth are interrupted, causing the person not to be able to coordinate the movement of his/her lips, tongue and jaw, in ways to say the sounds correctly, even in the absence of dysarthria (muscle weakness).
A person who knows that he wants to say “coffee,” but actually says “co-ee” or a made-up word (“bafoo”) may know his mistake and try to correct it; however, the right word doesn’t always come out. Many times, this leads to frustration and resignation.
Additionally, patients with apraxia of speech may experience the following:
- difficulty imitating and producing speech sounds, marked by speech errors such as sound distortions, substitutions, and/or omissions
- inconsistent speech errors
- groping of the tongue and lips to make specific sounds and words
- slow speech rate
- impaired rhythm and prosody (intonation) of speech
- better automatic speech (e.g., greetings) than purposeful speech
- inability to produce any sound at all in severe cases.
The good news? Patients who work with an SLP can definitely improve their speech abilities and overall communication skills. From retraining speech muscles to sequencing sounds into words, patients can work to lessen the impact of apraxia. AAC devices and speech apps may also prove to be beneficial when practicing word formation and to clarify a message when communication breakdown occurs.
For a few tips on how you can better help your adult patients with apraxia of speech, download our tip sheet.
Information adapted from: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ApraxiaAdults/