Apraxia: Everything You Need to Know

This is a state whereby the ability of students to voluntarily control their muscles is lowered. Hence, skilled movement is damaged. This condition is usually linked to an affectation of the brain. People with apraxia do not usually show signs of poor muscle health. Yet, this condition can significantly affect a student’s academic progress. Assistive technology makes it possible for students with apraxia to learn, especially using technology that enables them to control a computer device without the use of their muscles. 

Students with apraxia usually have speech challenges. This happens because their brain has trouble getting the lips, tongue, and jaw to move properly for talking. This means even when students with the disorder know what they wish to say, they fail to coordinate the muscle movements required to make the syllables, sounds, and words.

Apraxia symptoms can differ widely. Apart from speech problems, students with apraxia may also have:

·         trouble with motor skills and coordination

·         other language delays

·         sensitivity problems with their mouths, like an apprehension toward eating crunchy foods or brushing their teeth

·         problems when learning to spell, read, and write

Students with apraxia may need to sit in the front of the class and require alternative communication methods or assistive devices to help them follow the proceedings. These students tend to feel frustrated or nervous when asked to speak in class. Since they may miss class time and assignments due to their frequent physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy sessions, steps should ideally be taken to bring these students up to par with their peers. 

Since students with apraxia are at risk of being bullied, teachers need to keep a close eye on them and intervene if they notice such incidents. Teachers may also try to create opportunities for friendships and collaboration with classmates, which will reduce the risk of bullying.

As apraxia can adversely affect several aspects of a student’s academic performance, teachers should work with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and families to ensure the students get appropriate support. Teachers should keep these students involved in the classroom and give them extra time to communicate their needs or finish the assignments. Since students with apraxia may be troubled by coordination problems, getting some extra time will help them feel at ease and persuade them to be active participants in classroom activities. Teachers can also integrate a multi-sensory approach in classrooms where they use auditory, visual, and tactile-kinesthetic methods for their lessons.

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