Speech Therapy

Tube weaning | Speech | Apraxia | Failure to thrive | Nasal-gastric tube | oral-motor development | language 

The services of a speech therapist should be used early. Many infants with Prader-Willi Syndrome require assistance with the suck-swallow reflex and this is something that a Speech Therapist can assist with. Due to their failure to thrive, most infants with Prader-Willi Syndrome will leave hospital with a nasal-gastric tube.

A Speech Therapist and Dietician should oversee the nasal-gastric tube weaning process. Following on from assistance with feeding and nasal-gastric tube weaning a speech therapist will continue to work on oral-motor development to promote the skills necessary for speech.

The most diagnosed speech disorder amongst people with Prader-Willi Syndrome that requires specialised attention is Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Once a child develops speech, articulation issues can continue throughout their lifetime.

The pragmatics of language is often a lifelong struggle for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome The speech and language skills of people with Prader-Willi syndrome differ greatly in the severity and type of deficits that they present, ranging from individuals who are nonverbal to those who acquire normal speech and language skills by adulthood.

It is believed that there are many factors that may account for poor speech-sound development of individuals with PWS, including oral structure abnormalities, abnormal saliva, hypotonia, poor auditory memory and processing skills , and cognitive disability. Reduced breath support for speech is also believed to be a factor. 

Because persons with Prader-Willi Syndrome often take words literally, understanding metaphors, idioms, sarcasm, and common slang are often challenging. Reading body language, staying on topic, keeping eye contact, appropriate body position (facing a person when speaking, not standing too close, etc.) are all issues that the someone with Prader-Willi Syndrome struggles with and is something that a Speech therapist can assist with. Poor pragmatic language skills often continue to adulthood and the assistance of a speech therapist is invaluable.