Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment); prevention and advocacy; and education, administration, and research. See
ASHA's Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (ASHA, 2016).
Appropriate roles for SLPs include:
- providing prevention information to individuals and groups known to be at risk for CAS, as well as to individuals working with those at risk;
- educating other professionals on the needs of persons with speech sound disorders and the role of SLPs in diagnosing and managing CAS;
- screening individuals who present with possible CAS and determining the need for further assessment and/or referral for other services;
- conducting a culturally and linguistically relevant comprehensive assessment of speech, language, and communication;
- diagnosing the presence of CAS;
dynamic assessment for differentially diagnosing CAS and for determining severity and prognosis;
- providing diagnostic intervention to children suspected of having CAS;
- referring to and collaborating with other professionals to rule out other conditions, determine etiology, and facilitate access to comprehensive services;
- making decisions about the management of CAS;
- making recommendations for a multi-tiered system of supports (e.g.,
response to intervention [RTI]) in the schools to support speech and language development;
- making decisions, as part of the IEP team, about eligibility for services, based on the presence of CAS and any co-occurring conditions;
- developing culturally and linguistically appropriate treatment plans, providing intervention and support services, documenting progress, and determining appropriate service delivery approaches and dismissal criteria;
- serving as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals with CAS and their families/caregivers;
- counseling persons with CAS and their families/caregivers regarding communication-related issues and providing education aimed at preventing further complications related to CAS;
- consulting and collaborating with other professionals, family members, caregivers, and others to facilitate program development and to provide supervision, evaluation, and/or expert testimony, as appropriate;
- remaining informed of research in the area of CAS, helping advance the knowledge base related to the nature and treatment of this disorder, and using evidence-based practice to guide intervention;
- advocating for individuals with CAS and their families at the local, state, and national levels.
As indicated in the
Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2010), SLPs who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so. SLPs who diagnose and treat CAS must possess skills in differential diagnosis of childhood motor speech disorders, specialized knowledge in motor learning theory, and experience with appropriate intervention techniques that may include augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technology.