What are Motor Speech Disorders?

When it comes to communication, the harmony between our brain, muscles, and nerves plays a vital role. Sometimes, this harmony can be disrupted, leading to what we call motor speech disorders. These disorders make it difficult to speak clearly. Two common types of motor speech disorders are dysarthria and apraxia of speech. Let’s delve a little deeper into what these disorders are, focusing especially on Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).

Dysarthria occurs when there’s a weakness or paralysis of the muscles responsible for speech. This can result in slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand. On the other hand, apraxia is a motor planning disorder. The person knows what they want to say, but the brain struggles to coordinate the muscle movements necessary to say those words.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a specific type of apraxia that affects children. It’s a motor speech disorder where the brain struggles to send the correct signals to the speech muscles, creating difficulties with speech (ASHA, n.d.).

Children with CAS might struggle with:

Saying sounds, syllables, and words. This isn’t due to muscle weakness or paralysis but instead is a brain coordination problem.
Producing sounds and words correctly. The child might have good days and bad days.
Longer or complex words are often more difficult than shorter or simpler words (ASHA, n.d.).
It’s important to note that CAS is not due to muscle weakness or paralysis, which differentiates it from dysarthria. The root of the problem in CAS is in the brain’s planning and coordination of the movements needed for speech.

If you suspect your child may have a motor speech disorder, a speech-language pathologist can help. At Red Deer Speech Therapy, our team is trained in identifying and treating motor speech disorders, including Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

Remember, early intervention is key. If your child is facing challenges in speaking, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. We’re here to support you and your child on this journey towards 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/