Definition of Apraxia

By Pam Marshalla

Q: Does apraxia affect classroom learning?

Strictly speaking, “apraxia” is a motor speech disorder. Therefore, it only effects the production of speech. But many of these children also have other problems- in comprehension, vocabulary, question comprehension, etc. To me, that means that the child has apraxia AND something else. The apraxia should only effect the expression of speech. That is a “purest” view. And you will read and hear of other views.

This is my favorite definition of apraxia. Apraxia is:

A non-linguistic, sensorimotor disorder of articulation characterized by impaired capacity to program the position of speech muscular and the sequence of muscle movements [respiration, phonation, resonation, and articulation for the volitional production of phonemes.

Briefly, this is how I interpret the definition:

“Non-linguistic” – It has nothing to do with language.
“Sensorimotor” – It is a problem of both sensing movement and of moving.
“Program” – It is a problem of planning out movement.
“Speech muscular” – It is a problem of planning out the movement for speech, which are the movements of the lungs (respiration), vocal folds (phonation), velum (resonance), and jaw/lips/tongue (articulation).
“Volitional production” – Apraxia does not effect automatic movements, just voluntary, purposeful movements. Thus these children often say more spontaneously than they can say on demand.

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