Speech Pathologists specialise in problems involving the mouth and throat. Hills District Speech Therapy has a growing team of clinicians with additional training and experience in assessing, managing and treating motor speech disorders including dysarthria and apraxia of speech.

What are Motor Speech Disorders?

Motor Speech Disorders result from damage to the brain affecting the planning, programming, control, or execution of speech. Damage to the brain can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumours and progressive neurological disease. Motor Speech Disorders include Dysarthria and Apraxia of Speech.


Dysarthria is a disorder of movement and occurs when damage to the brain results in muscle weakness. Muscles in the face, lips, tongue, throat and those used for breathing are needed to talk.

Apraxia of Speech

Apraxia occurs when there is a problem with getting messages from the brain to the muscles. These messages tell them when and how to move. Apraxia of speech can also be referred to as dyspraxia or verbal apraxia.

What are the Signs of Dysarthria?

Someone with dysarthria may present with:

  • Slurred speech
  • Speech that is too fast or slow
  • Soft speech
  • Difficulty with moving the tongue, lips and jaw
  • Robotic sounding speech
  • Voice changes, including a breathy or hoarse voice. It may also sound like the person has a blocked nose or is talking out of their nose.

What are the Signs of Apraxia of Speech?

Someone with apraxia of speech may have:

  • Difficulty imitating and saying sounds. Sounds may be left out or added to words, or they may be said the wrong way. They may not be able to make sounds at all.
  • Variation in producing the same word
  • Groping movements (moving the tongue and lips to get them to the right place when trying to say sounds)
  • Speech that is slower
  • They may be able to say common, everyday words such as ‘hello’ without much difficulty.

What do we Offer?

Apraxia and Dysarthria can occur together or by themselves. They can also occur with language problems known as Aphasia. A Speech Pathologist will assess the person’s speech and language to determine whether they have Dysarthria, Apraxia of Speech or Aphasia or a combination of these.  This will involve assessing how well someone can move their lips, mouth and tongue and how well they breath. They will listen to the person’s speech sounds in single words, sentences and in conversation. They will also assess how well the person can talk and understand what is being said to them.

We also offer intervention for those with identified motor speech disorders. Therapy  is tailored to the person’s specific abilities and needs. It often involves a combination of rehabilitation and compensatory strategies. Our clinicians work closely with the client, their family, caregivers and support network to ensure their communication and socialisation needs are addressed.


Therapy may focus on:

  • Using more breath to increase loudness
  • Slowing down the rate of speech
  • Improving the strength of the muscles
  • Practicing producing sounds clearly in words and sentences.

Apraxia of speech

Therapy may focus on:

  • Retraining the muscles to make sounds
  • Repeating sounds and practicing the correct mouth placement
  • Slowing down the rate of speech

Therapy may also involve using alternative means to communicate known as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

Our 5 Top Tips for Communicating with Persons with Motor Speech Disorders

  1. Look at them when they talk. This may assist you to understand what they are saying.
  2. Limit noise in the environment and ensure good lighting.
  3. Repeat the words that you understand so that they don’t need to repeat them.
  4. Ask them yes/no questions if you have difficulty understanding them or get them to write it down.
  5. Give the person time to respond.