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American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)

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Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools

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DOI: 10.1044/2022_LSHSS-21-00164



While there has been mounting research centered on the diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), little has focused on differentiating CAS from pediatric dysarthria. Because CAS and dysarthria share overlapping speech symptoms and some children have both motor speech disorders, differential diagnosis can be challenging. There is a need for clinical tools that facilitate assessment of both CAS and dysarthria symptoms in children. The goals of this tutorial are to (a) determine confidence levels of clinicians in differentially diagnosing dysarthria and CAS and (b) provide a systematic procedure for differentiating CAS and pediatric dysarthria in children.


Evidence related to differential diagnosis of CAS and dysarthria is reviewed. Next, a web-based survey of 359 pediatric speech-language pathologists is used to determine clinical confidence levels in diagnosing CAS and dysarthria. Finally, a checklist of pediatric auditory–perceptual motor speech features is presented along with a procedure to identify CAS and dysarthria in children with suspected motor speech impairments. Case studies illustrate application of this protocol, and treatment implications for complex cases are discussed.


The majority (60%) of clinician respondents reported low or no confidence in diagnosing dysarthria in children, and 40% reported they tend not to make this diagnosis as a result. Going forward, clinicians can use the feature checklist and protocol in this tutorial to support the differential diagnosis of CAS and dysarthria in clinical practice.


Incorporating this diagnostic protocol into clinical practice should help increase confidence and accuracy in diagnosing motor speech disorders in children. Future research should test the sensitivity and specificity of this protocol in a large sample of children with varying speech sound disorders. Graduate programs and continuing education trainings should provide opportunities to practice rating speech features for children with dysarthria and CAS.


Published version. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Vol. 53, No. 4 (October 2022): 926-946. DOI. © 2022 American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Used with permission.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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