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HealthInfo Canterbury

Apraxia of speech

What is apraxia of speech?

Apraxia of speech (also known as dyspraxia) is a motor speech disorder. You know what you want to say, but the brain has trouble telling the speech muscles how to move. The muscles are not weak.

What happens when I speak?

You may have difficulty starting a word – your muscles may search for the right place before you can say a word correctly. Your speech may sound distorted and slow. Each time you say a word it may sound different – this can be frustrating. Long words and sentences may be harder. Everyday sayings may be easier than answering questions or describing something.

What causes apraxia of speech?

Apraxia of speech is caused by damage to the areas of the brain that coordinate the muscles involved in speech. This includes the muscles of the lungs, voice box, lips, and tongue.

You may have had a stroke (the most common cause) or a head injury (for example, in a car accident).

Are there different types?

Yes, apraxia of speech is variable.

Will I get better?

A lot can change over the first few days, weeks, and months. Some people recover very quickly. For others, it is a long, slow process.

You may never communicate as well as you did before. But some people still see signs of progress years later.

Who can help?

A speech language therapist will work with you and your whānau or family to help improve your speech and develop new ways to communicate effectively.

What is communication?

Communication is interacting with another person, having a conversation, sharing your thoughts, wants, needs, opinions, and ideas.

Communication is not just talking. It also involves:

Communication allows us to make and keep relationships. It also allows us to carry out life activities.

Communication is a partnership. You and your conversation partner will need to work together.

What can I do to help?

Try to relax and take your time. Keep your answers short and simple. And if you get stuck on a word, try

What can my communication partner(s) do?

You might also find useful information in our page about Dysarthria.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by speech-language therapists, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2016.


See also:

Communicating with someone who finds it difficult

Communicating with someone who can't talk

Images from, by Master Isolated and Stuart Miles

Page reference: 78424

Review key: HISCD-79694