Speech LanguMegan - Motor Speech Disorderage Therapy for Children with Motor Speech Disorders

Children with motor speech disorders are often unable to imitate or produce speech sounds without the use of special techniques to support their unique challenges in the area of motor learning.

Motor Speech Disorders are impairments in one or more of the motor processes that underlie speech. It is only recently that there has been emphasis placed on speech as movement and that research has focused attention on motor speech disorders in children. Motor learning theory is complex, and there are several levels of control that are discussed in the literature. Children may exhibit motor deficits in one or more of the following areas:

  • Sensory Processing and Motor Planning: Two major types of sensory input, tactile and proprioceptive, are closely linked to the acquisition of well-controlled movements for speech. Information from tactile and proprioceptive systems, generated during movement experiences, is critical to motor planning and the automaticity of movements. (See Clinical Interventions: Speech Language Therapy for Children With Sensory Integration Disorder). "Motor plans" are internalized plans of action that prescribe movement patterns for specific motor actions.
  • Sensorimotor Programming: This process accounts for the timing and positioning of movements of the speech musculature, which are the foundation for coordinated movements. Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder affecting the ability to plan and program movement sequences for speech production (See Clinical Interventions: Speech Language Therapy for Children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech).
  • Movement Execution: At the level of execution, the muscles of the jaw, lips and tongue produce the previously planned and programmed movements for speech production. Dysarthria is a term for a group of related motor speech disorders resulting from paralysis, weakness, abnormal tone or incoordination of the muscles used in speech. Some children may exhibit characteristics that are typical of dysarthria, (hypotonia, fine or gross motor delays), yet have no neurologic diagnosis.
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PROMPT® Therapy for Children with Motor Speech Disorders

In our experience at Donna Lederman, SLP, PC, the use of PROMPT therapy is highly effective in treating children with motor impairment. PROMPT focuses on the precision and highly coordinated movement patterns required for volitional control of movements for speech production. Regardless of the nature of the motor processing disorder, the use of tactual in addition to auditory input has significant impact in developing successful, consistent production of speech sounds, words and phrases.

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Clinical Note: Megan

Megan has a diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy and Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and she was referred to our practice by a pediatric neurologist. At her initial visit, Megan tended to avoid participating in conversation and responding to questions. Her speech intelligibility was poor, compromised by low muscle tone, sensory processing and motor planning deficits. Megan was easily frustrated when not understood. Her PROMPT® therapy sessions have been extremely successful in helping her to produce speech sounds more accurately and to sequence syllables accurately. She quickly learned to produce her last name clearly and within 6 months, Megan's intelligibility, sentence length and confidence as a communication partner significantly improved. PROMPT therapy techniques helped Megan to stabilize her jaw and to use sensory information to guide movements for speech production. At the same time, her social use of language was markedly improved by structuring therapy sessions to include her sister in games and other social interaction activities.

Megan - Motor Speech Disorder

Donna Lederman, Speech-Language Pathologist, P.C.
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