What are Motor Speech Disorders?

The seamless interaction between our brain, muscles, and nerves is crucial for communication. However, disruptions in this coordination can lead to motor speech disorders, significantly impacting speech clarity. Two prevalent forms of motor speech disorders are dysarthria and apraxia of speech, with a particular focus on Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).

Dysarthria arises from muscle weakness or paralysis affecting speech, leading to slurred or slow speech that may be hard to understand. Apraxia, in contrast, is a motor planning disorder where the individual knows what they want to say but faces difficulty in coordinating the muscle movements necessary for speech.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a specific form of apraxia affecting children. It is characterized by the brain’s inability to send the correct signals to speech muscles, hindering speech development. This is not due to muscle weakness or paralysis but a coordination issue within the brain.

Signs of CAS include challenges with:

  • Pronouncing sounds, syllables, and words due to brain coordination problems rather than muscle weakness.
  • Inconsistent speech production, with noticeable fluctuations in speech clarity.
  • Increased difficulty with longer or more complex words compared to shorter or simpler ones.
    Understanding that the primary issue in CAS lies in the planning and coordination of speech movements, not muscle weakness, is crucial for distinguishing it from dysarthria.

If you’re concerned that your child may have a motor speech disorder, consulting with a speech-language pathologist is a critical step. At Sherwood Park Speech Therapy, our professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating motor speech disorders, including CAS.

Emphasizing the importance of early intervention, we encourage parents to seek assistance if their child exhibits speech development challenges. Our team is dedicated to supporting families through their journey toward clearer and more effective communication.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Childhood Apraxia of Speech. www.asha.org/practice-portal/Clinical-Topics/Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/