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Clear as mud: another look at autism, childhood apraxia of speech and auditory processing

Tierney, Cheryl D.a; Kurtz, Marieb; Souders, Heatherb

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: June 2012 - Volume 24 - Issue 3 - p 394–399
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e328352c5a6
OFFICE PEDIATRICS: Edited by Henry H Bernstein

Purpose of review Autism, childhood apraxia of speech and central auditory processing disorder are associated with significant disability. These conditions can be more difficult to diagnose. With significant controversy surrounding their definitions and most effective treatment options, understanding these conditions better may optimize outcomes.

Recent findings As earlier diagnosis and treatment become more commonplace, the type and intensity of intervention provided continue to be a topic of extensive interest and research. The protean nature of speech and language disorders requires careful consideration of several diagnostic causes. Problems with speech may reflect motor coordination or apraxia, problems with processing language may reflect an auditory processing disorder, whereas more profound delays may reflect cognitive disability or autism. Early consideration of different causes of delay will aid in the choice and application of appropriate therapies.

Summary Early identification and treatment of speech and language problems are known to result in better outcomes. By expanding one's differential diagnosis for speech and language disorders and understanding the link between early communication delay and later language learning, one hopes to mitigate the long-term effects these conditions have on children.

aDivision of Human Genetics, Growth and Development, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital

bPenn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence to Cheryl D. Tierney, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor Of Pediatrics, Division of Human Genetics, Growth and Development, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, 500 University Drive, H085, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, USA. Tel: +1 717 531 8414; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.