Verbal Developmental Dyspraxia

By | June 10, 2022

Verbal developmental dyspraxia is a speech disorder that is probably caused by an insufficient ability to plan language and is characterized by phonation errors and delayed language development. The patients usually articulate themselves hardly or not at all intelligibly. So far, the therapy of those affected has been difficult and requires the committed cooperation of those close to the patient.

What is Verbal Developmental Dyspraxia?

Voice formation is a complex process involving different muscle groups and a specific breathing technique. Various disorders can occur in the area of ​​voice formation and articulation. One such disorder is verbal developmental dyspraxia. Medicine understands dyspraxia as an aggravated course of development steps or actions. For all you need to know about suspension trauma, please visit

Verbal developmental dyspraxia is a developmental disorder that affects children’s speech and manifests itself in poor pronunciation. The language disorder is one of the circumscribed developmental disorders of speech and language and is to be distinguished in this context from what is known as apraxia.

Verbal apraxia not only complicates language development, but prevents it altogether. In verbal dyspraxia there is a general ability to speak, but the articulation is subject to disturbances. Verbal dyspraxia is a pure speech disorder without any impairment of language understanding.


The origin of verbal developmental dyspraxia has not yet been fully elucidated. There are different hypotheses about the etiology. One of these hypotheses assumes an origin at the level of speech movement planning and language movement programming. Accordingly, those affected should not have sufficient skills to place the movements relevant to language production in the spatially and temporally required relationship.

Metabolic disorders and neurogenic disorders may be the primary cause of such an impairment. Genetic disposition is also discussed as a cause in this context. Due to the disrupted movement planning, the affected children should only have limited ability to articulate planned statements.

Many scientists speak of an inability to voluntarily control the use of the articulation organs. Verbal developmental dyspraxia disrupts the development of the entire language system. Only the speech understanding of the patients is not disturbed.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The first symptoms of verbal developmental dyspraxia appear early in childhood. Sometimes the first sign is reduced slurring and chattering in early infancy. In addition, delayed language acquisition is one of the most characteristic features of the speech disorder.

The delay in language acquisition can be extreme. Nevertheless, those affected are mentally able to understand what others have said. The specially articulated sounds of the patients are hardly understandable. Different sound formation errors are responsible for this.

These highly variable phonetic errors typically include, for example, omission, substitution, permutation or addition. Repetitions and inappropriate lengthening of the articulated consonants or vowels can also occur. In many cases, the affected children “lose” words they have already learned after a certain period of time.

In addition, search movements are typical. Some patients silently position the lips and tongue forward during an utterance. The disturbed sound formation and the mentioned sound formation errors are to be understood as the main symptoms of linguistic dyspraxia.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The diagnosis of verbal developmental dyspraxia is made by the speech therapist. After the first contact with the speech therapist, he assesses the sound formation process and the implementation of the relevant movements. The prognosis for patients with verbal developmental dyspraxia depends primarily on the time of diagnosis.

The later the diagnosis is made, the more the unfolding of the entire language development is impaired and the more difficult and long-term the therapy is. In most cases, the diagnosis of dyspraxia is only made when the patient is already in speech therapy treatment for other reasons. Often the first suspicion of verbal developmental dyspraxia in this context does not develop until the patient makes little or no significant progress in speech therapy.


Patients with this disease suffer from a pronounced speech disorder. As a rule, language acquisition is significantly delayed, so that the patients cannot speak properly even in childhood. The disease has a very negative effect on everyday life and also on the development of the child.

Most patients suffer from bullying or teasing, especially when they are children, and can develop psychological problems. Furthermore, there are mental disabilities, so that those affected need special help at school. Due to the speech difficulties, there are also problems or complications in everyday life and in social interaction.

Symptoms also occur in adulthood. Since this disease does not usually heal itself, those affected are always dependent on treatment. This can take place through various therapies and usually does not lead to further complications. With the help of various exercises, the symptoms are reduced.

However, complete healing is usually not achieved. The disease does not negatively affect or reduce the patient’s life expectancy. In some cases, the parents or relatives can also suffer from psychological problems or depression.

When should you go to the doctor?

If there are abnormalities in language skills during the development and growth phase of the child, a doctor should be informed of the observations. Delayed language development is considered a warning signal from the human organism and should be discussed with the attending pediatrician. An unusual slurring that stands out when compared to children of the same age is characteristic of the disease. A doctor is required for the earliest possible diagnosis and the creation of an individual treatment plan. The sooner the peculiarities of language production can be treated therapeutically, the better the long-term successes.

If the positioning of the lips and tongue is exposed to unusual movements when speaking, this is to be understood as a sign of a disorder. If the symptoms persist or increase in intensity, a doctor should be consulted. If a child can no longer independently reproduce words it has already learned after a short period of time, this is considered to be a cause for concern. It should be checked whether the word is particularly difficult or whether it is used frequently in the communication of normal everyday events. If in the latter case the inability to reproduce an already known word surprisingly often occurs, this should be discussed with a doctor. Incomprehensible pronunciation and peculiarities of tonality should also be presented to a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of verbal developmental therapy poses a challenge for the speech therapist. A Cochrane analysis from 2008 summarizes that there are no promising forms of therapy for the patients in the current study situation. Clinical experience proves that all oral motor exercises and speech therapy steps are not particularly effective.

The reason for this is the cause of dyspraxia, which is believed to lie in language planning itself. At present, there seems to be only one possible therapeutic approach for treating the patients. This is the multisensory association method. In this type of therapy, those affected are encouraged to assign cues to the individual sounds.

These cues are either visual or tactile-kinesthetic in nature. This assignment must be done with a high repetition rate so that the individual exercise content can be automated. In the long term, a proportionate automation of individual speech movement sequences can be achieved in this way.

Due to the need for extremely high repetition rates, the success of the therapy depends above all on the environment of those affected. The individual caregivers of the patients must be intensively involved in the work and receive an in-depth introduction to the cornerstones of the therapy. Without such involvement of the caregivers, the therapy ultimately remains useless.

Another treatment approach is TAKTKIN according tobirner-janusch. This is a logopedic treatment method for the treatment of speech motor disorders. TAKTKIN stands for the TAKTil-KINaesthetic stimulation method for speech disorders.

There is also the possibility of treatment after the VEDiT therapy according to A. Schulte-Mäter. VEDiT is a therapy approach that was actually designed for children with verbal developmental dyspraxia, but has also proven to be very efficient in other forms of speech articulation disorders.


So far, one can only speculate about the causes of verbal developmental dyspraxia. For this reason, no prophylactic measures are available for prevention. Since logopedic measures and oral motor exercises also have no effect, such steps cannot be described as preventive measures either. Nevertheless, the relatively early diagnosis by a specialist helps to rectify the fault.


The development of language acquisition is not a matter of course and does not always take place without problems, but can take place under difficult conditions. Such difficulties with language are known as verbal developmental dyspraxia. As a rule, they are already noticeable in childhood when language acquisition takes place.

The sooner the therapy begins, the better the prognosis for a successful elimination of the speech disorder. Follow-up care is advisable in order to maintain success and to keep the child’s joy in working with words in the future. Follow-up care takes place in a speech therapy setting. A trusting relationship between child and therapist is crucial for healing.

The speech therapist should therefore approach the person concerned in an empathetic manner. The aftercare treatment can be carried out on children in a playful way, the therapist thinks up language games and thus arouses the child’s interest in speaking. If the developmental dyspraxia causes negative reactions in peers or in parents and relatives, parallel psychotherapy makes sense. The child’s self-confidence should be stabilized so that it does not suffer any permanent damage. At the same time, aftercare can extend to the parents if they cannot or do not want to accept their child’s developmental disorder.

You can do that yourself

Verbal developmental dyspraxia can be treated with the help of various forms of therapy. This requires intensive training. Affected children need a permanent caregiver who practices with them daily if possible and moves them to adequate oral correction in the long term. Parents are encouraged to encourage the child to speak. Communication is the most effective method because it automates speech movement sequences.

At the same time, the child should be informed in detail about the developmental disorder. Child-friendly literature is recommended for this purpose. A visit to a specialist center and contact with other affected children are also important measures that contribute to a better understanding of verbal developmental dyspraxia. Affected children usually have to attend a special school. Due to the long waiting lists, you should register at an appropriate institution as early as possible. Private tutors and other accompanying measures also need to be organized in the child’s first years of life.

Which measures are sensible and necessary in detail must be discussed with the responsible doctor. It is best for parents to contact a specialist who can put them in touch with a suitable speech therapist.

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