There are many different speech disorders. It is important for a child to be diagnosed properly because each speech disorder requires a somewhat different approach in therapy. If your child is diagnosed with either apraxia or dysarthia, the focus of therapy will be on the motor control of speech, since these conditions both affect the way a person moves their mouth to create different noises. You can expect therapy for such motor speech disorder to focus on three elements.

1. Increasing Awareness of the Mouth's Movements

The first few sessions with the therapist may only focus on this element. The therapist will have their patient say certain sounds, and then they will point out where their tongue, lips, and cheeks are when they are making those sounds. For instance, the therapist may say, "make the "th" sound" and then point out that the client's tongue is against their top teeth and their mouth is open a little. The therapist will usually start with sounds that the client makes well so that they can become more comfortable with the process. Then, they will move on to sounds they do not make as well, and they'll correct the movement of their mouth as needed.

2. Improving the Ability to Move the Mouth in Certain Ways

Many clients struggle to move their mouth in the way that certain sounds require. Once the therapist has a good idea of what sounds the client struggles with the most, they can assign certain exercises to improve oral skills. For example, if a client has a hard time making sounds that involve touching the tongue to the back of the teeth, the therapist may have them practice pressing their tongue into this position ten times in a row.

3. Developing the Muscles That Stabilize the Jaw and Mouth

The more strong and stable a client's jaw and mouth, the easier time they'll have making different sounds and speaking more clearly. The therapist may have the client perform strengthening exercises such as opening and closing their jaw with a band around the chin, using their tongue to press certain buttons, and holding a smile for a certain amount of time.

All of the elements above will work together to help a client improve their speech when a motor speech disorder is involved. If you would like more details, speak to a speech therapist at a group like Speech Language and Hearing Associates. They should be happy to give you insight into their methods.