Acquired Apraxia of Speech: Speech Motor Control

How do we learn to speak? And what is Speech Motor Control?

The act of speaking itself is a motor skill. It is something that we learn to do as children.

We start out "not so great" when compared to adult speech, but slowly and surely practice this skill over years and years.

In our infantile days, we start out with just crying and making sounds.

Then we move on to what is called babbling which is where we put in strings of syllables together.

Then we learn to speak words.

By the time human beings reach roughly reach around 7 years of age, most children can independently hold conversations with all the sounds that are involved in their native language (English, German etc etc).

So that means, speech is something that takes countless hours of practice and perfection. That is a lot of speech motor training that our body goes through before we get it to sound the way most adult normal speech sounds like.

This very act of learning to speak by:
  • learning the sounds, 
  • controlling the muscles that are needed to make the movements,
  • and then eventually form the sounds that make the words,
  • and finally speaking fluently from motor memory. 
 -all come under what is known as Speech Motor Control.

How does this tie into Apraxia of Speech?

Here's how:
  • Knowing how speech works  and how sounds are made helps one understand the processes that get impacted when the system takes a beating ( like for example in a stroke).
  • Knowing how sounds are made and thinking about them helps one understand that parts of the body that need to be focused on. This can help recover impacted speech components especially if speech planning is an issue like in a disorder like AOS.
  • Speech motor control is a huge area filled with models and hypotheses that are postulated from research done on normal adults and children as well as on children with disordered speech. However, there is often much that we can learn from this pool of information that could potentially be applied to Acquired Apraxia of Speech.
  • Having models to go by helps clinicians and clients make sense of what can often come across as a mysterious, frustrating or a confusing disorder.
  • For years people have generated much literature of Motor Learning which can help us immensely in the rehabilitation of AOS. Researchers are continuing to put the pieces together towards this complex condition. There is a plethora of single subject design studies that offer valuable techniques and strategies that could help with Apraxia of Speech and many of them are often based on some form of speech motor control model.

Building a customized treatment program for Apraxia of Speech is often a critical component toward its recovery. To learn more: Contact Us

Please see here for a related article on AOS

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