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Does Apraxia of Speech Affect Adults? 

Yes, apraxia of speech (AOS) can affect adults. AOS is a neurologic speech disorder that results from impaired planning or programming of sensorimotor commands for phonetically and prosodically normal speech. AOS is often referred to as verbal apraxia or dyspraxia, and it can affect adults of all ages. To give you an insight into AOS in adults, this article will discuss the various apraxia of speech treatment options available for AOS and what factors may contribute to its onset.


In this article we will discuss:


Speech Apraxia can affect adults due to stroke or traumatic brain injury.

What is Apraxia of Speech?


A 57-year-old man experiences a stroke that damages his brainstem. This damage disrupts the neural pathways that control his speech muscles, resulting in apraxia of speech. The man has difficulty saying the names of people and places, as well as common words and phrases. He often substitutes one word for another (e.g., saying “dog” instead of “cat”) and uses incorrect stress patterns, pauses, and inflection. With the help of speech therapy, the man gradually improves his apraxia of speech over several months.


Apraxia of Speech starts in the brain.


It is typically caused by a neurological condition or damage to certain areas of the brain, including the frontal lobe and areas in the parietal and temporal lobes that are involved with speech. This damage can result from a variety of factors.


Types of Apraxia.


Children Apraxia of Speech (CAS). It is believed to be caused by a neurological problem rather than behavioral or learning issues. Developmental apraxia of speech is often related to cerebral palsy or other motor-skill disorders. Children with down syndrome are also one of the largest groups of children with apraxia. Apraxia can be linked to delayed speech in children as it is difficult to produce the sounds and syllables of speech.


Acquired apraxia of speech (AOS) is caused by damage to the nervous system due to stroke, head injury, or degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. AOS can also be brought on by certain infections, such as encephalitis or meningitis.


Progressive apraxia of speech (PAS) is a rare degenerative disease that attacks the nervous system, causing muscle weakness and impairing the ability to speak. PAS is often seen in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Apraxia of speech can affect adults

Book a consultation for Adults with Apraxia of Speech

The symptoms of apraxia of speech will depend on the type of apraxia.


CAS usually appears in early childhood, between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. The child may have difficulty saying certain sounds or may use made-up words or babble instead of real words. He or she may also have trouble imitating sounds or may have difficulty with speech and language development in general.

CAS or children apraxia of speech.

Children with apraxia of speech have a hard time imitating complex movements, such as opening and closing the mouth, moving lips and cheeks, sticking out the tongue, or moving the jaw up and down. These difficulties usually cause problems with eating, chewing gum, and blowing bubbles.


Acquired apraxia of speech, however, can appear at any age. The symptoms of AOS will depend on the severity of the damage to the brain. A person with mild AOS may have difficulty saying certain words or may hesitate when speaking. A person with more severe AOS may be unable to say any words at all.


AOS is a neurological speech disorder.


AOS is a neurological speech disorder that can make it difficult or impossible to produce speech sounds correctly. Speech apraxia can make it hard to say what you want to, and it can affect your ability to communicate with others.


AOS is different from other speech disorders, such as stuttering or dysarthria. Speech apraxia is not caused by muscle weakness or paralysis. Instead, AOS is caused by problems with the way the brain plans and coordinates the muscles used for speaking.


What are the symptoms of apraxia of speech in adults?

The symptoms of apraxia of speech vary from person to person, and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms include:

  1. phoneme distortions and distorted substitutions or additions

  2. reduced overall speech rate,

  3. reduced and/or inconsistent stress across words,

  4. groping for a word that is on the tip of one’s tongue,

  5. syllable segregation with extended intra- and intersegmental durations such as vowels

Overall, apraxia of speech affects a person’s articulation, fluency, and prosody. Adults with apraxia of speech may have trouble saying the names of people and places, as well as common words and phrases. They may also use incorrect stress patterns, pauses, and inflection when speaking.


Is apraxia of speech the same as oral apraxia?

Oral Apraxia happens when adults have a hard time planning oral movements.

No. Oral apraxia is a different condition from Speech apraxia. Oral apraxia is a motor planning disorder that affects the muscles of the mouth and face. This can make it hard to perform certain movements, such as sticking out your tongue or closing your lips. People with oral apraxia often have trouble with eating and drinking.


However, studies show that there is a relationship between apraxia of speech and oral apraxia. Many people with apraxia of speech also have oral apraxia. And, people with oral apraxia are more likely to have apraxia of speech. This is because apraxia of speech and oral apraxia affects the same neuroanatomical system.


Speech Disorders that Co-occurring with Apraxia of Speech


There are a number of speech disorders that can co-occur with apraxia of speech. These include:

  1. Dysarthria: A motor speech disorder that is caused by muscle weakness or paralysis. Dysarthria can make it hard to produce clear speech sounds.

  2. Aphasia: A language disorder that can affect a person’s ability to understand or express spoken or written language.


How is Apraxia of Speech diagnosed in adults


A speech diagnosis is made by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) after conducting a thorough evaluation.


First, an SLP will also ask about your medical history. This is to help the SLP figure out if apraxia of speech could be related to other medical conditions, such as a stroke or brain trauma. Strokes are often followed by speech therapy, as well as brain trauma.


Next, an SLP will assess your speech and determine how apraxia of speech affects you. Tests such as the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination (BDAE) or the Test of Adolescent and Adult Language (TOAL-4) can be used to evaluate apraxia of speech.


SLP’s will also ask you to complete a language sample. This includes assessing your oral-motor movements and oral apraxia components, such as sound processing and sequencing. An SLP should use tests to measure your understanding of spoken language (auditory comprehension) and written language (expressive language).


After the evaluation, the SLP will work with you to develop a treatment plan. The treatment plan will be based on the severity of your apraxia of speech and your individual needs.


Apraxia Treatment for Adults

Apraxia Treatment in speech therapy

There is currently no cure for speech apraxia. However, apraxia can be treated with speech therapy and other interventions. Many adult treatments for apraxia are similar to childhood apraxia of speech treatment.


Apraxia speech therapy focuses on improving motor planning and sequencing skills through exercises that help improve articulation, fluency, and prosody. Speech therapy may also involve using alternative communication methods, like an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device or sign language.

Other interventions include physical therapy to improve oral-motor movements, cognitive rehabilitation to improve executive functioning skills such as memory and problem solving, auditory training to improve sound detection skills, and even music therapy to promote speech production!


Overall, apraxia of speech can have a big impact on your daily life. However, with the right apraxia treatment, you can improve your apraxia of speech and continue to communicate effectively with others.


Speech therapy can help adults with apraxia.


There are lots of apraxia treatments and the best one for you depends on the severity of your apraxia.


Your speech therapist will make a custom apraxia treatment plan for you that targets your particular needs.


Here are some types of apraxia treatments that speech therapists use:


Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT)


This apraxia treatment uses music to help with speech. You sing or hum words and phrases that you have difficulty saying. This helps your brain learn to plan the mouth movements needed for speech.


Verbal Motor Production Treatment (VMPT)

Apraxia Treatment in adults to lessen communication problems.

This apraxia treatment focuses on improving muscle memory for speech sounds. You practice saying sounds, words, and phrases over and over again. This helps your muscles remember how to make the correct mouth movements for speech.


Cued Speech


Cued Speech is a system of hand shapes and positions near the mouth that cue the sound of a letter in speech. It can help you understand what other people are saying and produce clear speech yourself.


Speech Generating Devices (SGD) or Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)


If apraxia makes it hard for you to speak, AAC can help you communicate. AAC devices range from simple picture boards to sophisticated computerized speech-generating devices. There are many different AAC systems. Your speech therapist will work with you to find the best AAC system for your needs.


Overall, apraxia of speech can be a serious condition that affects your ability to communicate. But with the right apraxia treatment plan, you can work with your speech therapist to minimize its effects on your life.


You can help adults with Apraxia at home!


There are things you can do at home to help a loved one with apraxia.

Here are some tips:

  1. Encourage your loved one to practice speech exercises daily. This can be done by reading aloud, singing, or practicing tongue twisters.

  2. Perform supportive activities with your loved one, like going for walks, cooking together, or playing catch. These activities help reduce stress and make speech practice more fun!

  3. Be patient! It can be frustrating to watch someone with apraxia struggle to communicate. Try not to finish their sentences for them. It is important to stay patient, understanding, and supportive.

  4. Be patient when communicating with your loved one. It may take them longer to say what they want to say.

  5. Make sure you are speaking clearly when you talk to your loved one. This will help them understand what you are saying and make it easier for them to respond.

  6. Talk to your loved one’s speech therapist. They can give you more tips on how to help your loved one at home.


Apraxia of speech can be a difficult condition to live with. But with the right apraxia treatment plan and some support from loved ones, people with apraxia can continue to lead happy and fulfilling lives. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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