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Apraxia of Speech


Apraxia of speech (AOS) is a motor speech disorder, characterized by impaired planning or programming of speech movements, as a result of damage in the brain.


What is Apraxia of Speech (AOS)?

Apraxia of speech (AOS) is a motor speech disorder, characterized by impaired planning or programming of speech movements, as a result of damage in the brain. A person with AOS frequently has difficulty sequencing sounds in words or sentences.

What are the common causes?

AOS happens when there is damage to one or some parts of the brain which control motor speech planning or programming. A common cause of AOS is stroke. Other causes include:

  • Brain tumour
  • Head injury
  • Degenerative neurological diseases

What are the signs and symptoms?

A person with AOS may exhibit one or more of the following features during speech production:

  • Inaccurate articulation, with inconsistent consonant or vowel distortions
  • Difficulty in imitating speech sounds
  • Effortful trial-and-error groping during speech production
  • Slow rate of speech, especially on longer words
  • Somewhat preserved ability to produce "automatic speech" such as counting, reciting previously memorized pieces, responding to social routines – “Hello”, “How are you?”, “Thank you”

A person with AOS may not usually exhibit any problems with eating and swallowing.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor may refer you to a speech therapist for further detailed assessment when signs of speech problems are observed. The speech therapist will determine the nature and severity of any speech difficulties. He/she may ask the person to carry out volitional or spontaneous speech tasks, such as counting, saying words and non-speech tasks, such as, blowing, tongue rotation movement.

What are the risk factors?

Stroke is a major risk factor of AOS. Some risk factors of stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Aging
  • Heart diseases
  • Previous stroke disease or transient ischemic attack (TIA)

What types of treatment are available?

Treatment depends on the cause, type, and severity of the symptoms. The speech therapist may use various therapy methods specially tailored for the person with AOS, which focuses on his/her strengths and weaknesses.

Possible goals of treatment may include:

  • Improving clarity of speech with speech drills based on modeling
  • Using a sing-song method to reduce groping during speech production
  • Increasing rate of speech
  • Teaching caregivers and family members strategies to facilitate communication with the person with Apraxia of Speech (AOS)

In severe cases, learning to use alternative communication methods (e.g. simple gestures, alphabet boards, or electronic or computer-based equipment).

What can I do to help myself?

As stroke is one of the main risk factors for developing AOS, taking steps to prevent a stroke will in turn help reduce the risk of develping AOS.

If you are diagnosed with AOS, it is important to do exercises or carry out the strategies that are given by your speech therapist regularly in order to see improvement in speech production.

- Last updated 1 Jul 2011,5:27 pm

The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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