How much therapy is usually necessary to treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
Intensity of Speech TherapyIt is essential that a child with Childhood Apraxia of Speech get as many opportunities as possible to actually produce speech. You cannot improve motor planning skills if no speech production is happening. Therapy for CAS needs to focus on getting as many speech productions as possible from the child during each session. A child is not improving their motor planning skills when they are just listening or watching the therapist or other children. For this reason, it is usually recommended that speech therapy sessions be individual (one-on-one) rather than group (one therapist with several children). It is also recommended that the therapist stay very focused on having the child practice rather than on having the child listen and watch while the therapist "teaches". Therapy for Childhood Apraxia of Speech needs to be very intense.
Frequency and Duration of Speech TherapyChildren with Childhood Apraxia of Speech typically need a lot of therapy to show improvement. One study (Campbell, 1999) showed that "the children with apraxia of speech required 81% more individual treatment sessions than the children with severe phonological disorders in order to achieve a similar functional outcome."
The professional organization of speech language pathologists, the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that, "There is emerging research support for the need to provide three to five individual sessions per week for children with apraxia as compared to the traditional, less intensive, one to two sessions per week (Hall et al., 1993; Skinder-Meredith, 2001; Strand & Skinder, 1999)." ASHA's technical report also states that, "In view of the Committee's information indicating that children are being enrolled for treatment of CAS at increasingly younger ages, careful consideration should be given to the length of the therapy session. If repetitive practice of speech-motor patterns is targeted in a therapy session, many children in the younger age ranges can remain engaged for only a maximum of 30 minutes per session."
Given a choice, therapy for Childhood Apraxia of Speech should be broken into many shorter sessions per week rather than one or two long sessions per week. This makes sense from a motor planning perspective. You will learn a new motor task (just like riding a bike) faster if you practice a little almost every day rather than practicing for several hours only once a week.
SummaryIdeally, therapy for Childhood Apraxia of Speech should be individual sessions 3-5 days a week. Those sessions should be focused on getting as many productions from the child as possible. Sessions should be no longer in length than the amount of time the child can focus on intense practice. These guidelines are most important when the Childhood Apraxia of Speech is judged to be severe.
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