What is it?
Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it hard to speak, even when you know what you want to say. After an event that causes brain damage (like a stroke or TBI), the messages that used to travel from the brain to the mouth encounter a roadblock. This results in a lack of control over lip, tongue, or jaw movement which makes it difficult to speak as easily as you used to. It can happen on its own or at the same time as other speech and language problems. Apraxia can feel like trying to run in a dream- you know how and when you want your body to move, but it doesn’t cooperate with your intention and you end up moving in a completely different way than what you had planned. If you feel as if the words you want to say are right at the tip of your tongue, but it’s a struggle to be able to say them correctly, you may be exhibiting signs of acquired apraxia of speech.
What does therapy look like?
Since Apraxia is a motor speech disorder, therapy focuses on getting the speech muscles to move correctly once again. Even though you know what you want to say, Apraxia requires you to re-teach your muscles how to move in the right way. During a session with your Speech-Language Pathologist, you will do exercises to teach your muscles how to make sounds again, and practice coordinating those sounds into words.
What else can you do?
In addition to therapy, you can use strategies to improve your speech, like using a slow rate of speech and keeping a steady beat. Using a slow rate of speech means intentionally making your speech very slow (even slower than you think you need to!) and taking your time getting your message across. When thinking about keeping a steady beat, imagine that there is a metronome in your mind that ticks slowly from side to side. Try to say one word at a time, imagining that you say a word when the metronome ticks to each side. This will help you to focus on each word on its own and keep your rate of speech even.
If you suspect that you or someone you know has Apraxia or other motor planning difficulties, contact us to discuss your concerns and schedule a speech and language evaluation!