Chris Kamara has gone public with his Apraxia of Speech diagnosis after fans were concerned about his health during an appearance on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday programme last weekend. This is often a lesser known speech disorder within the general public so what exactly does it mean to have this diagnosis?
Apraxia of Speech
Apraxia of Speech (AOS) is a neurological disorder that affects the brain pathways involved in planning the sequence of movements involved in speech production. This is not because the muscles are weak as in other disorders. Even though a person knows what they want to say, their brain still cannot properly plan and sequence the necessary speech sound movements to match this.
Apraxia of Speech does not affect understanding language but sometimes people also have other conditions such as aphasia which can affect comprehension.
People with AOS may struggle to pronounce sounds correctly particularly at the beginning of a word. Longer words can be more of a challenge than shorter ones. However, it may not be consistent – a person with AOS may be able to say the word one minute but not the next. Their speech may be slow. They may be aware they have made a speech error but not able to correct it which makes it an incredibly frustrating condition.
Automatic speech will often be unaffected – e.g. singing which is something Chris Kamara, himself, has found. Other examples of automatic speech include greetings, rhyming, counting and even swearing!
What can friends and family do to help someone with Apraxia of Speech?
- Be patient and give the other person plenty of time to speak.
- Reduce external distractions – e.g. turn the TV down, talk in a quiet room.
- Is there an alternative way to communicate for moments that are particularly difficult? E.g. gesture, writing or drawing?
Former footballer Chris Kamara had initially been worried that he had dementia after years of heading the ball had but since receiving the actual diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech he says he is working to progress through Speech and Language Therapy. Thanks to his bravery of speaking out about his difficulties he has raised public awareness of a speech disorder many may well not have heard about before.