Fear in Labeling Motor Speech Disorders

By Pam Marshalla

Q: This seems perhaps silly, but I have to admit that I am afraid of labeling a client with apraxia or dysarthria. Perhaps it is because I took no formal class on motor speech disorders while I was in college, and I have had to piece information together myself. Can you advise me?

I too was afraid of motor speech for years. In fact people asked me to speak about it for some 20 years before I felt brave enough to do so. I felt that I just didn’t understand the whole picture. But more reading made me more confident. I think that once you have a handle on what “apraxia” and “dysarthria” actually mean, and you understand the difference between them, you are ready to face this more squarely.

I would suggest the following basic reading list to dig deeply into the subject of the motor speech disorders over the course of your career. These are classic texts that will give you the broad scope of the disorders along with treatment guidance. I have put a few notes after the titles to help guide you.

Some of these books are still in print and can be purchased from the publisher. Older books can be found in university libraries. Go to your local college or university library and sign up for a user card. (Mine for the University of Washington costs me about $25 per year to maintain as a non-university state resident.) Many of these books will be in your university stacks, or you can get them through inter-library loan. If you want your own personal copy, used copies can be purchased on-line. Search under the author’s name or “rare books.” They usually are not very expensive.

Motor Speech Disorders

Cerebral Palsy

Sensory and Motor Issues

  • Ayres, A. J. (1980) Sensory integration and the child. Los Angeles: Western Psychological. [Must-read first classic on the subject; Will help you understand childhood apraxia better than reading speech texts only]
  • Farber, S. D. (1982) Neurorehabilitation: A multisensory approach. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders. [Classic OT/PT book that gives the SLP a basic framework for working with body systems]
  • Kranowitz, C. S. (2005) The out-of-sync child. NY: Penguin. [Ayres framework modernized and expanded]

Feeding and Oral Motor Issues

  • Morris, S. E., & Klein, M. D. (2000, 1983). Pre-feeding skills: A comprehensive resource for mealtime development. Austin, TX: Therapy Skill Builders (Harcourt Health Sciences). [Classic must-read for anyone dealing with motor speech disorders in children; The “Bible” of feeding therapy; Will help you understand oral sensory and motor control for speech; Either issue valuable]

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