Help for My Son With Speech Apraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder?

Question by Shadowbox: Help for my son with speech apraxia and sensory processing disorder?
I have a son who just turned 3. He does not talk or use sign language. He has been diagnosed with speech apraxia and sensory processing disorder. Also they think he may be autistic. He is receiving multiple therapies including speech, DT, OT, hippotherapy, and behavioral/social. Some of his therapists are recommending that he needs a more “oral motor” approach in speech therapy, while others tell me that some research indicates that this will make the situation worse. I don’t know which ones to believe, as they all have different opinions. I have researched on the internet and read some books with regard to sensory processing disorder and am no closer to deciding which would be better.

I realize this might be difficult for someone to answer, without knowing the specifics of my son. But I would appreciate any help or advice from someone who has been through this. If someone has used oral motor speech with an apraxic child – did it work with yours? Thanks!

Best answer:

Answer by boogeywoogy
A strictly oral-motor approach for apraxia of speech, in my opinion, is counterproductive. Oral-motor exercises are used when there is weakness, slowness, or incoordination of movement because there is something wrong with the musculature. Apraxia, by definition, means there is aberrant movement in the presence of normal muscle function. It is a disorder of motor PLANNING, as a person cannot make purposeful movements on purpose. They can, however, move automatically, as seen when chewing food, yawning, and managing saliva.
My approach to apraxia is simple, really. One works from gross to fine; larger, more relaxed and open movements and sounds to narrower, tenser, and more closed ones. I start with movements related to eating and drinking first. For example, the child licks a spoon with pudding (automatic movement) without prompting, as in, “Sammy, have some pudding”, after which he does it on command for deliberate movement (i.e. “Sammy, lick the pudding off the spoon”.)
You may want to talk to the OT and speech pathologist about a couple of sessions of “co-treatment”, which provide OT/ST in the same session so the sensory issues are fully addressed and everyone is on the same page.
Email me via my avatar if I can be of further assistance.

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