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How Is CAS Different Than A Speech Delay?

A true developmental delay of speech is when the child is following the “typical” path of childhood speech development, although at a rate slower than normal. Usually this rate is also in pace with the child’s cognitive skills. In typical speech/language development, the child’s receptive and expressive skills increase together to a large extent. What is often seen in a child with apraxia of speech is a wide gap between their receptive language abilities and expressive abilities. In other words, the child’s ability to understand language (receptive ability) is broadly within normal limits, but his or her ability to use expressive language through speech is seriously deficient, absent, or severely unclear. This is an important factor and one indicator that the child may be experiencing more than “delayed” speech.  In the case of such a mismatch in skills, the child should be evaluated for the presence of a specific speech disorder such as apraxia. However, certain language disorders may also cause a similar pattern in a child. A gap between a child’s expressive and receptive language ability is not sufficient to diagnose apraxia, in and of itself.  And to complicate matters further, some children with apraxia of speech do have both reduced expressive language AND reduced receptive language.