Simplification of syllable structure in childhood apraxia of speech: a 2-year follow-up French case study

Clin Linguist Phon. 2021 Oct 3;35(10):945-963. doi: 10.1080/02699206.2020.1839971. Epub 2020 Dec 11.


Although Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) has been extensively investigated in the clinical literature, most of the findings regarding impairments in the production of syllable structure, recorded within this population, have been mainly focused on English. The main purpose of this two-year follow-up case study was, therefore, to examine whether syllable complexity may be considered as a robust indicator in CAS and whether it can explain the persistence of errors and, if so, at what age. This was tested in a boy followed up annually from age 5 to 7 who was administered a narrative task. Data analyses used the Phon program to estimate accuracies of different syllabic structures, phones, singleton and cluster consonants. Overall, the findings suggest that this child experienced difficulty producing syllabic structure commensurately with the level of complexity of the target structures. Notably, the presence of syllable planning/sequencing deficit found in French data clearly supports the hypotheses according to which (a) there is a relationship between the level of complexity of syllabic structures and their simplification and (b) the persistence of errors on the most complex syllables remains, becoming a robust indicator for identifying CAS from other speech disorders. Further cross-language investigations on syllable complexity in CAS are needed to design better assessments and to plan efficient intervention.

Keywords: Childhood apraxia of speech; French; longitudinal study.

MeSH terms

  • Apraxias*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis
  • Speech*