The Need for Increased Study of Infants and Toddlers Later Diagnosed With Childhood Apraxia of Speech
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This article examines the need for increased research into the prelinguistic trajectory of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). We discuss the significant gains made in the early identification of disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome that have resulted through the study of early (i.e., prelinguistic) developmental behaviors of infants and toddlers at risk for these disorders. We suggest that notable gains in understanding CAS could be made by increasing investigative focus on infants and toddlers later diagnosed with CAS or who are at risk for it (i.e., have an older sibling diagnosed with the disorder).
Currently, there are few studies to guide clinical decision making for infants and toddlers who may have CAS. To address this gap, we present a call to action with recommendations for researchers and clinicians. We recommend more retrospective investigative designs be conducted, inclusive of retrospective parent questionnaires and retrospective home video analysis, as well as prospective longitudinal studies of at-risk infants. We suggest that studies not be limited to exploring an affected infant's vocal output, but that efforts be made to acquire a broad view of an affected infant's early developmental trajectory (e.g., social skills, eye gaze, and imitative skills). A more comprehensive understanding of CAS will guide clinicians not only in identification of the disorder but will inform treatment decisions as well.
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