Supporting children and families living with verbal dyspraxia


“It’s brill-i-ant, it’s brill-ant, it’s brillnt”

Have you ever wondered why children may pronounce a word correctly one minute and in the next breath they struggle to say the same word? It’s equally as frustrating for you as it is for your child. The biggest question of all is WHY? Why does this happen and what causes it? Whilst there are many explanations. When it persists, it might be a condition called verbal dyspraxia.

What is verbal dyspraxia

Verbal dyspraxia is a neurological motor speech disorder that affects the coordination and planning of muscle movements that are needed for speech production. A child may have difficulty making the precise movements needed for speech, which may result in inconsistent and unintelligible speech. Children may also have trouble sequencing sounds and syllables, producing speech sounds accurately, and coordinating the movements of their articulators (e.g., lips, tongue, teeth, jaw). This can lead to a range of speech errors (including sound distortions, substitutions, omissions, and difficulty with rhythm and prosody).

We know that these speech errors, and not being able to get a message across, can be frustrating for children with speech difficulties. Can you imagine talking and limited people understanding you? It’s so tough on children and the people trying to communicate with them.

Creating a person-centred therapy plan is vital. This allows your child to stay motivated, as intervention is likely to be long term. This planning may include favourite words to use during their hobby or favourite activity, or person-centred goals such as ‘giving Alexa an instruction’.

Children with verbal dyspraxia can have several different ways of producing words, which often makes it trickier for them as there’s no consistent pattern to work with. So, we’ve put together some top tips to support their communication and make their (and your) lives a little easier in the process.

Ten ways to make communication easier for your child with verbal dyspraxia

  • Have a list of frequently used words and practise this set. Little and often is best!
  • Use cued articulation to support speech production (ask your Speech and Language Therapist for the gestures)
  • Give time and use active listening. This means showing interest and trying not to think about what is on your never ending ‘to do’ list
  • Reduce frustration in any way that you can. This might mean allowing your child to demonstrate using gestures rather than speech. You might also give top tips for other adults or children who communicate with your child when out and about
  • Talk about the structure of words with your child (i.e., there are two beats/syllables in this word)
  • Show the written form of the word to go alongside their production
  • Split down tasks, so that your child only has to respond to one question at a time, reducing their motor capacity
  • Recognise when your child is working well and when they may need support of an Alternative and Augmentative Communication device
  • Allow all environments to have the same training and equipment (i.e., at school, home, out and about)
  • Have regular periods in the day where your child can practise their specific words in different environments. This can be effective for children with verbal dyspraxia

Do you still have questions? Contact Sonja for support.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.


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