Apraxia of speech in children is focus of new OHSU grant

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A new National Institutes of Health grant will enable Oregon Health & Science University researchers to create a tool for diagnosing children with apraxia of speech -- a neurologically based speech motor disorder. Children with apraxia of speech have great difficulty planning and producing the speech movements they need to make with their tongue, lips, jaw and velum, or soft palate, to form words. Children with apraxia of speech tend to speak less rhythmically than other children, including more even stress on syllables.

It is estimated that about one-tenth of 1 percent of children in the United States may have apraxia of speech. Apraxia of speech can occur as a result of a brain injury, but in children born with apraxia, the cause is unclear.

"Apraxia of speech is not very well understood or easily diagnosed," said John-Paul Hosom, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the three-year $492,000 grant from NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, and an OGI School of Science & Engineering assistant professor of biomedical engineering. "It is especially difficult to diagnose apraxia of speech in young children because of the different rates at which young children learn language. It is suspected that many children with apraxia of speech go undiagnosed due to the lack of a diagnostic standard."

Hosom, a computer scientist in OGI's Center for Spoken Language Understanding (http://www.cslu.ogi.edu), will collaborate with one of the nation's leading experts on childhood speech disorders, Lawrence Shriberg, Ph.D. Shriberg is a professor of communicative disorders at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, director of the NIH-supported Phonology Project, and co-director of The Phonology Clinic at the Waisman Center (www.waisman.wisc.edu). Shriberg, who has been working with children with apraxia of speech for more than 20 years, is interested in the nature and origin of childhood speech disorders of curren

Contact: Sydney Clevenger
Oregon Health & Science University

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