It is not often possible for SLP’s to provide a differential diagnosis for a child under two years old. That is because most children under age two do not have the ability to understand specific directions for tasks that would be critical to making the diagnosis. Or the child may be unable to cooperate or pay attention to the extent that they would need to do so in order for a differential diagnosis. Children between ages 2 – 3 may also be difficult to firmly diagnose with CAS. Some can and some cannot. There is no strict age as to when a child can be diagnosed with CAS. The most important thing is that the child is able to fully participate in the tasks required by the SLP who is evaluating them. Equally important is that the SLP understands appropriate diagnosis techniques and the core characteristics that differentiate CAS from other types of speech problems. Regardless, the disorder can be “suspected” and early help can and should begin. Often, a few months of “diagnostic therapy” can help to determine if CAS is the main issue that is causing a child to have difficulty speaking.
Overall, while it is possible to determine that a child’s speech is not developing in the same way or at the same rate as other children and to suspect CAS, in very young children it is often not possible to clearly state that the reason is due to an apraxia of speech, excluding other speech disorders or causes. However, it is possible to institute speech therapy when a problem is suspected. Early intervention is very important to children with speech and language disorders.