Dyspraxia symptoms & treatment

Dyspraxia in Toddlers

By the time a child is two they usually have a vocabulary of between about fifty and several hundred words.  Some of these words need to be verbs, action words such as “go” or “want”.  A Speech Pathologist will consider a child to have delayed speech development if they have less than fifty words in their vocabulary.  Children usually need to be able to say at least fifty words to be able to start putting two words together (eg “go car”).

Children with dyspraxia will find it harder than other children to learn to say the basic sounds to start making words, so they are often later starting to attempt talking.  When they do they will have a higher than usual level of difficulty in making the words intelligible.  Often their parents will know what they are talking about with these early words, as it is usually clear by the context, but it would be difficult for other people to understand them.

Please be aware that ALL children have inaccuracies in their speech in the early years, particularly as there are some sounds that take longer to learn, such as putting two consonants together (like st in stop, which will usually sound like ‘dop’), or ‘r’ or ‘th’ sounds.  If you are concerned about whether your child is accurate enough, check out Ages and Stages.

Children this age usually enjoy making all sorts of funny noises, and have a wide range of animal and vehicle noises, as well as some that just appeal.  Toddlers with dyspraxia will have a more limited range and they may not sound like the ones you would make.  They will often resist attempts to make them try.

Toddlers with dyspraxia will have a great deal of difficulty putting sounds together to make words, and then putting syllables together to make longer words.  Often they will use what sounds like a made-up word to represent favourite objects or foods, and it may sound quite different to the real word.  It can even be hard to say the same syllable twice (like ‘mum-mum).

Toddlers with dyspraxia are often still drooling and may need to have their face wiped often or wear bibs.  They can have poor control of their lips and closing their mouth or keeping their lips sealed.

This poor control can make it difficult for them to do other things with their mouth, such as sucking through a straw, or blowing bubbles.  Sometimes they will be able to manage only certain types of straws or cups, and parents often have to experiment with different types of cups and bottles for water.

Transitioning to solid foods can be difficult for some.  Very often children that have dyspraxia have a history of being ‘fussy’ eaters, especially not liking some textures or food. They may, for example, be happy to have puree food, even enjoying a good range of flavours, but resist having lumps in their food or coping with pieces of food.  Sometimes children will learn to enjoy crunchy food such as toast or biscuits but resist textures that are part-way between smooth and crunchy.

If they have a strong gag reflex, then this is the time you will see it!

Biting and chewing can be difficult, and so they need there meat cut up small or minced.  Toddlers may be reluctant to bit into an apple or carrot. However, a toddler can eat normally and still have dyspraxia related to speech.

Toddlers should be able to easily imitate actions you can do with your face and mouth, such as puckering your lips, wiggling your nose, raising your eyebrows, frowning, poking your tongue out and moving it from side to side.  Toddlers with dyspraxia will still have difficulty imitating facial gesture, so simply showing them how to place their mouth to make sounds or words can be frustrating.

6 Responses to “Dyspraxia in Toddlers”

  1. melissa says:

    i have a two year son who will be 3years in the next month and he never said mummy or daddy he dont make sentances and i have a lot of difficulty with him eating solid food, he dont chew, most of the time he will just sallow and therefore we will not go off properly . i always have to puree food for him and he will not always eat it. please advice will be greatly appreciated

    • Natasha says:

      Since he is about to turn 3, and early intervention ends at 3., I would contact your local school system and have him evaluated, which can then place in in preschool. There he can receive free services, such as speech therapy, ot, physical therapies if needed. Don’t wait any longer. Early intervention is crucial. You may wnat to look at having him evaluated privatley as well. My son is apraxic, and he is receiving services through the public school system.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Melissa – I would suggest that it is worthwhile for you to consult with a local speech therapist to arrange an assessment for your son. Let us know how it goes.

  3. adele says:

    Hi Melissa, I strongly recommend that you talk to a SPeech Pathologist as soon as possible. At three he needs to be communicating, even if this is not always by talking. What action you take depends on what country you live in. In Australia you can be seen at Child Development Centres (Health Department)and the children’s hospitals can help you with eating. Whatever country you are in, private Speech Pathologists are likely to be able to see you faster. If, for any reason you are not able to access enough therapy, there is an e-book which is going to be on this site soon. All the best for you and your little boy.

  4. Melissa says:

    Strangely my name is also Melissa, which is why I felt compelled to write. I have a 2 1/2 year old little boy who is struggling to string any sentences together. Speech specialists have said he is functioning like a 9 to 15 month old, rather than his age. He was born at 6 weeks early and I had Pre-eclampsia and Gestational Diabetes. He has had problems breathing properly and we’ve had to take him into hospital on numerous occasions. Sometimes speech is delayed because there has been illness, sometimes it is for other reasons. I have dyspraxia and didn’t speak till I was 3. I’d point at things and my brother would say them for me instead. I have a feeling my little boy understands more than he can communicate. If I ask him to get something for me, he will do. Although he cannot communicate it in words. I have a lot of help and they have even got him into nursery sooner. However, the nursery is struggling to bring him on, also. I have portage in which helps with his play. I am supposed to be going on a course for speech development. It is difficult and every day is a challenge. However, I cannot imagine what it is like for you, with no help. You need to ask for help as soon as possible. It is wrong that your child has been missed. They need to do something to support you and your child. Talk first with your health visitor, or perhaps if you go to Sure Start someone there will help. I wish you all the best. It is tough, but with help it can be so much easier.

  5. Adele says:

    Hi, Melissa, Are you getting any Speech Pathology for your little boy? One of the reasons for this site is to help other people understand how difficult life can be for people with dyspraxia. There is a strong genetic component to dyspraxia, so it is highly likely that your child has some dyspraxia, whatever else is going on. Usually children with dyspraxia understand far more than they can say. If you would like advice with specific difficulties feel free to ask the questions here.

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