Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD) is the term used in Ireland and the UK to describe a type of Speech Sound Disorder that is characterised by difficulties with motor planning for speech production.

A child with DVD typically knows what they want to say, but may have difficulty saying the sounds and words because their brain has difficulty planning and coordinating the movements of the lips, tongue, jaw, and other articulators.

You may have also heard the terms Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS) or Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). These terms describe the same condition and are typically used in the USA.

What are the signs of Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia?

There is a lot of debate among Speech & Language Therapists (SLTs) and researchers about what makes DVD different from other types of Speech Impairments (SI).

A study by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) concluded that although they couldn’t agree on a definitive list of features, there were three common features that most SLTs and researchers associated with DVD:

  • Inconsistent speech sound errors on consonants and vowels in repeated productions of syllables or words (e.g. different errors made each time)
  • Difficulties transitioning between sounds and syllables in words (e.g. unusual length of time in between sounds or syllables)
  • Inappropriate patterns of stress (i.e. pronouncing one syllable in a word with greater emphasis) and intonation (i.e. the rise and fall of the voice in speaking) in single words and in conversation

It is important to be aware that these are not the only features that are seen in DVD and that a child with DVD may present with difficulties in any or all of the following areas:

  • Non-speech motor behaviours (e.g. blowing bubbles, chewing)
  • Motor speech behaviours (e.g. timing of the articulators to produce sounds correctly)
  • Speech sounds and structures (i.e. word and syllable shapes)
  • Prosody (i.e. the patterns of stress and intonation in a language)
  • Language (i.e. understanding and use of spoken language)
  • Meta-linguistic/phonemic awareness (i.e. the ability to hear and “play” with the smallest units of sounds in words and syllables)
  • Literacy (i.e. the ability to read and write)

DVD characteristics can range from mild – severe and your child’s speech presentation may change over time.

Video courtesy of The Mayo Clinic

I’m worried about my child’s speech, what should I do?

If you are concerned about your child’s speech sound development check out our Speech Sound Development page to find out about the ages and stages of typical speech sound development.

If you are still worried about your child’s speech please get in touch with an experienced Speech and Language Therapist who will be able to assess your child’s speech.

Following a detailed assessment your SLT will be able to advise you whether a label of DVD is appropriate to describe your child’s speech difficulties or whether another diagnosis is more appropriate.

It is generally agreed upon that children with DVD do not get better without help. Typically children with DVD will need regular, direct therapy delivered by a SLT, alongside frequent practice between the therapy sessions, at home and /or in school. This may need to continue for some years. Your child’s SLT will devise a therapy programme, to suit your child’s individual needs.

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