Friday, March 23, 2012

Dyspraxia / Apraxia - So Many Terms - What Do They Mean?



Parents who bring their child to me for Speech Pathology often tell me that they have looked dyspraxia up on the internet, but there are so many different terms that seem to be used it becomes very confusing.

Here are some of the most common terms with their meanings:

Dyspraxia /apraxia

Dyspraxia or apraxia are interchangeable terms which mean that someone is not able to do an action. This is because the brain needs to know how to do an action, plan it, carry it out and make small adjustments, if needed, as the action happens. This is called a motor program or a motor plan. If any disruption happens to this motor planning then the result is a form of dyspraxia (or apraxia).

Developmental dyspraxia / developmental apraxia

The dypraxia is occurring in a child. Children with dyspraxia are born with the condition and it becomes more apparent as a child grows, especially when they have difficulty learning to talk.

Acquired dyspraxia / acquired apraxia

This disorder occurs when there is an interruption to the brain from disease or accident. People who have strokes (CVA) often suffer from dyspraxia. The brain can no longer plan out an action and do it, and this often includes swallowing and speech.

Ideation dyspraxia

Ideation dyspraxia happens when the brain cannot see, or conceptualise, how it is going to start an action or what that action is going to look or feel like. This makes it very difficult for children to learn to do any complex actions like talking, running or climbing.

Ideo-motor dyspraxia

Ideo-motor dyspraxia is when a motor plan cannot be executed (or carried out) properly, even though the person does have the concept of what needs to be done.

Oral dyspraxia / oral apraxia

If a person has dyspraxia that only affects the movements of the face and mouth then this is usually referred to as oral dyspraxia. Oral dyspraxia is often the cause of babies and toddlers drooling and it is hard to make speech sounds. It can also be difficult to blow bubbles, suck through a straw and imitate facial expressions. Babies with oral dyspraxia can find it hard to latch on and establish breastfeeding. When they start to eat food they often resist lumpy food and different textures.

Verbal dyspraxia / verbal apraxia / Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)

Children with verbal dyspraxia find it hard to learn to talk. Babies use only a few sounds when they babble. They have difficulty learning to make all the sounds they need to talk and putting them together. They will then have trouble trying to put all the sounds in words and joining words into longer words and sentences. When very severe, people with dyspraxia may remain non-verbal and need to use a different communication system such as signing or picture exchange, or a high tech AAC device. Most children, however, can be helped to talk by Speech Pathology.

What to do

Most parents are not able to really identify that their child has a difficulty until they realise that the child is not learning to talk easily. Usually children with dyspraxia are able to show that they have good comprehension (understanding) skills.

If you suspect that your child may have any degree of dyspraxia, please find a local Speech Pathologist who can get to know your child and work out why she or he is having difficulty with talking. If your child has dyspraxia the Speech Pathologist can help you understand the terms and how they relate to your child.

The earlier intervention begins the better, according to all the research. So many later developing language skills depend on a child being able to talk and use communication for many different purposes. But whatever stage your child is at, treatment will make sure that they make gains as quickly as possible.

Speech Pathologists often work together with an Occupational Therapist to make sure your child learns all the skills they need for a happy life.

Discover more about how to deal with this issue at

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