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What’s the Difference Between Dyspraxia and Apraxia?

By Kelli Johnson, MA

Question: I’ve heard two words used to describe my daughter’s trouble making speech sounds: dyspraxia and apraxia. Is there a difference between the two?

Answer:

This is a good question. If your child has trouble pronouncing words, you may have heard the terms childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and verbal dyspraxia. Both conditions can make it hard for the brain to plan the movements needed to make speech sounds.

Not all kids with CAS or verbal dyspraxia have the same symptoms. But many have trouble stressing the right word in a sentence or syllable in a word. It’s also common for kids with these conditions to pronounce the same word in different ways. Longer words with multiple syllables can be especially tough. Kids who struggle with speech in these ways can be hard for others to understand—even people who know them well.

You’re more likely to hear speech-language pathologists (SLPs) use the term CAS. That’s because it’s preferred by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This group oversees certification, research, and policy in the speech and hearing professions.

Other types of health professionals may be more likely to use the term verbal dyspraxia. That’s because it’s mentioned in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 lists verbal dyspraxia as another name for speech sound disorder.

Whether you call it CAS, verbal dyspraxia, or speech sound disorder, trouble producing speech sounds can occur on its own. Or it can go along with a broader set of motor issues called developmental coordination disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia.

If your child has trouble with movement, speech, or language, talk with your child’s teacher or health care provider. They may refer you to a specialist who can help kids in these areas.


Read about the difference between a speech impairment and a language disorder.

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