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Speech Sound Production

Oral Motor Therapy

Apraxia of Speech

A speech sound production or articulation disorder is a difficulty making sounds correctly.  It is an error in the process by which sounds, syllables and words are formed when the jaw, lips, tongue, teeth and palate change the air stream coming from the vocal folds.  Sounds can be omitted (like saying "buh" for "bug"); one sound can be substituted for another sound (like saying "thun" for "sun"); or sounds can be distorted (not sound exactly right).  This problem often begins in childhood, but may become a life-long challenge.  Articulation disorders may occur later in life as a result of a stroke, injury or illness.  Speech sound production and articulation errors can be corrected at any age.

Sometimes, what appears to be an articulation disorder is really an oral-motor disorder.  An individual with an oral-motor disorder has trouble controlling and using the jaw, lip and tongue muscles to make movements  that are independent of each other.  As a result, speech (talking) may be disordered or difficult to understand. These are physical issues that may or may not have a neurological cause.  In either case, exercises designed to strengthen the oral muscles must be provided during the initial stages of the therapy program.  Oral muscles that lack strength and tone may be evidence of a motor disorder known as dysarthria.

Many oral-motor disorders look like articulation disorders, while others are evidence of apraxia of speech.  Apraxia may be explained simply as a motor planning disorder in the absence of muscle weakness.  The brain has a problem planning and coordinating the jaw, lip and tongue movements that are needed for speech. The focus of therapy for apraxia is to improve the planning, sequencing, and coordination of muscle movements for speech production.

A comprehensive articulation/oral motor/apraxia evaluation must be completed to determine the basis for the speech sound production problem.  Constance is well qualified to assess and treat all types of speech sound production disorders.  She is P.R.O.M.P.T.® trained, skilled in the Beckman Oral Motor Assessment and Intervention program techniques, trained in Visual Phonics and proficient in using of a variety of speech sound production therapies.

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