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Verbal dyspraxia affects the ability of a child to produce speech. Verbal dyspraxia can also be referred to as dyspraxia, developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD), childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) or developmental apraxia of speech.
Verbal dyspraxia is a speech disorder that can start to show when a child is learning to speak. A child with verbal dyspraxia has difficulty planning and coordinating their movement of muscles used (e.g. tongue, lips, jaw, palate) to produce the right speech sounds or words. However, there
is no actual damage to the child's nerves or muscles used in speech.
Children with verbal dyspraxia may have difficulty with the speed, accuracy and timing of movement sequences that are required to produce speech. This will often result in delays in speech development.
There is no obvious cause for verbal dyspraxia. A speech pathologist can diagnose and help treat the condition. Many children's speech will improve with specific treatment.
There is another type of dyspraxia that is caused by brain injury, which is not addressed in this fact sheet. For information, see our fact sheet Brain injury – dyspraxia.
The signs and symptoms depend on the severity of the problem. If your child has verbal dyspraxia, they may:
If you are concerned about your child’s speech, talk to your Maternal and Child Health Care Nurse or GP, who may refer you to a speech pathologist. You can also visit a speech pathologist privately. A speech pathologist can assess whether your child has verbal dyspraxia or if there is
another cause for their difficulties with speech and language development.
There are several ways to help treat verbal dyspraxia, with specific treatments available from speech therapists who are experienced in the condition. Therapy is often intensive and involves exercises specially designed for your child. For example, therapy may focus
on producing specific sounds, or words and phrases of various lengths and complexities.
For children with more severe dyspraxia, the speech pathologist may consider alternative ways of communicating, such as sign language or specialised communication tools like computers or books to point to.
Will my child grow out of verbal dyspraxia?
verbal dyspraxia won’t simply outgrow the condition, but over time and with
regular (and often intensive) speech therapy their speech is likely to improve.
The speech pathologist will approach the treatment to address the specific
motor planning difficulties that your child is experiencing.
My Maternal and Child Health Nurse suspected that my child
might be on the autism spectrum, but he has been diagnosed with developmental
verbal dyspraxia. Are these conditions linked?
Many children with language difficulties may become
frustrated because it's challenging for them to communicate. This then results in
abnormal behaviours from their frustration. The combination of abnormal
behaviours and language delay occurs often in children on the autism
spectrum, which is why it can be difficult to tell them apart at first. You
should discuss these concerns with your child's paediatrician.
What’s the difference between verbal dyspraxia and verbal
apraxia? I’ve come across both terms when trying to find out more about my
There is no difference. Both developmental
verbal dyspraxia (DVD) and childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) describe
difficulties with motor sequencing for clear speech production.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Paediatric Speech Pathology Service. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed May 2018.
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