Neurologists Should Not Diagnose Apraxia
It feels as if every time I turn around there is another non-verbal 2 year old getting this diagnosis from a well meaning Neurologist. There seems to be many Neurologists who will diagnose any child who has a normal neurological exam at age 2 and is not talking with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
I am not blaming the Neurologists for this. Most of the time, they are put in this position by Speech Language Pathologists who don’t feel comfortable giving the diagnosis themselves.
Unfortunately diagnosing this severe speech disorder is not easy. In fact there is no one agreed upon assessment tool within the field to make the diagnosis. Because of this many Speech Language Pathologists do not feel as if it is their role to make this call when in fact it is.
Of course the Speech Language Pathologist should have extensive knowledge of childhood motor speech disorders to properly diagnose and to treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech. If they don’t, a referral to Speech Language Pathologist who does is the more appropriate next step.
While the person who makes the diagnosis may seem unimportant, it really is extremely important.
A neurologist can rule out any other neurological causes for a severe speech disorder; however they should not be asked to make the diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. They are not experts in speech and language disorders, only Speech Language Pathologists are. Neurologists have plenty of other areas in which they are the experts; this is not one of them.