Developmental verbal dyspraxia
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Developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD), also known as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and developmental apraxia of speech (DAS), is when children have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what they want to say, but their brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown Some observations suggest a genetic cause of DVD, as many with the disorder have a family history of communication disorders.
Developmental verbal dyspraxia is a condition where the child has difficulties in making and co-ordinating the precise movements, which are used in the production of spoken language, although there is no damage to muscles or nerves. (Ripley, Daines and Barrett 1997).
It has been suggested that speech and language therapists consider a label of developmental verbal dyspraxia when they are faced with a child with a speech disorder, who presents as a puzzle. Perhaps they make very slow progress in therapy; perhaps their error pattern is inconsistent or idiosyncratic; perhaps there is evidence of other motor control difficulties i.e. they have generalised dyspraxia or oromotor dyspraxia.
There is no cure for DVD/CAS, but with appropriate, intensive intervention, people with the disorder can improve significantly.
DVD/CAS requires various forms of therapy which varies with the individual needs of the patient. Typically, treatment involves one-on-one therapy with a speech and language therapist. In children with DVD/CAS, consistency is a key element in treatment. Consistency in the form of communication, as well as the development and use of oral communication are extremely important in aiding a child's speech learning process.
Many therapy approaches are not supported by thorough evidence; however, the aspects of treatment that do seem to be agreed upon are the following:
Treatment needs to be intense and highly individualized, with about 3–5 therapy sessions each week
A maximum of 30 minutes per session is best for young children
Principles of motor learning theory and intense speech-motor practice seem to be the most effective
Non-speech oral motor therapy is not necessary or sufficient
For more information on developmental verbal dyspraxia:
Start by looking on this website under: Dyspraxia at a glance: Speech
Download the Dyspraxia Foundation factsheet on: Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia
Also visit the Apraxia kids website on: www.apraxia-kids.org and look under Speech topics for a number of useful articles.
Other sources of Information:
The Dyspraxia Foundation sells two books, which have useful chapters:
Praxis makes Perfect 11, chapter 5 “Developmental verbal dyspraxia” by Pam Williams and Juliette Corrin.
Dyspraxia: A Guide for Teachers and Parents by Ripley, Daines and Barrett (1997) Chapter 5 is on speech and language and includes a useful section on feeding.
Information on Other Organisations:
Association for all speech impaired children (Afasic)
Helpline: 08453 55 55 77