The diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech is challenging. The main problem with diagnosis is that none of the characteristics of childhood apraxia of speech are found exclusively in this condition: other speech disorders are associated with either co-articulation errors, inconsistent errors or prosodic disturbance. Although standardised assessment can and should be used with this population of children, there is no one standardised assessment that can be used to diagnose childhood apraxia of speech.
Therefore the diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech requires the skills of an experienced speech pathologist.
- It is important to see a speech specialist (called a speech pathologist or speech therapist) to confirm a diagnosis. This is because CAS is a complex condition with a number of signs and associated conditions and speech pathologists are specially trained to be able to recognise CAS.
- Your doctor may refer you to a speech pathologist but your teacher and other health professionals can too. To diagnose CAS, your speech pathologist will get your child to do a number of ‘talking tests’. In consultation with your speech pathologist, your GP may also decide whether to refer you for genetic testing.
- CAS often cannot be diagnosed until a child is around three or four years of age because the language and speech skills of toddlers naturally vary a lot. This means that before three years of age, many children share some of the early signs of CAS (e.g. slow to talk, poor appetite etc) without actually having CAS. Because CAS is rare, if you or your speech pathologist are unsure about your child’s diagnosis, it is essential to see a speech pathologist with experience diagnosing CAS.
Professional content written by Associate Professor Angela Morgan, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute University of Melbourne Australia