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HealthInfo Canterbury

Apraxia of speech

Woman with apraxia struggles to find wordsApraxia of speech (also known as verbal dyspraxia) is a motor speech disorder. You know what you want to say, but your brain has trouble telling your speech muscles how to move. The muscles aren't weak.

You may have difficulty starting a word – your muscles may need to 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.

Causes of 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).

Types of apraxia of speech

Apraxia of speech is variable.

Getting better from apraxia of speech

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.

Getting help with apraxia of speech

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

There are things you can do yourself to help.

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

People you communicate with can also help by:

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 2020.


See also:

Communicating with someone who finds it difficult

Communicating with someone who can't talk

Page reference: 78424

Review key: HISCD-79694