Apraxia and Poor Oral Motor Skills

Apraxia is a condition related to poor oral motor skills. Children with apraxia find it difficult to plan and produce the precise, highly-refined and specific series of movements of the speech mechanism. Children with apraxia particularly struggle in repeating successions of vowels and consonants. It is often much easier for children with apraxia to repeat simpler motor sounds such as vowels or consonants in isolation.

The Importance of Babbling

Children typically begin to develop oral motor skills during the babbling stage. Children babble when auditorily connected and begin to relate cause-and-effect principles. An infant begins babbling by first instinctively making sounds (cooing) and then noticing the different sounds made by moving the tongue, lips or other parts of the mouth. Auditorily connected to those sounds, children are rewarded and therefore continue to make more sounds, thus creating more oral motor movement. The process allows for the continued development of oral motor skills. Being auditorily connected is thus very important to the early development of oral motor skills. Infants who are not auditorily connected or who fail to connect cause and affect principles are often described as being “relatively quiet babies.” Many parents claim that their child “babbled a little bit, but not like [their] other children.”

Apraxia and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

Upon case history, it is often noted that many children diagnosed with apraxia never babbled, or babbled minimally. Since being auditorily connected is a significant prerequisite to babbling and since babbling is prerequisite to developing oral motor skills, it is often evident that auditory processing weaknesses or delays may be a piece of the puzzle in children diagnosed with apraxia.

When evaluating a child diagnosed with apraxia, it is important to note whether or not the child babbled on time or with frequency. It is also important to note whether or not the child appears to be auditorily connected to his or her environment. In the absence of an auditory connection, the child may be at risk for auditory processing weaknesses and should thus seek further evaluation.

A “Daily Listening Diet”

When auditory processing deficits become a piece of the puzzle, a “daily listening diet” can prove quite helpful. Learn why a daily listening diet is a critical element in remediating an auditory processing problem.