Articulation and Phonology, Hippotherapy, PROMPT Therapy, Speech and Language Development, Speech and Language Therapy, Speech Language Pathology in Motion

Treatment of Motor Speech Disorders Using Hippotherapy and PROMPT

Motor speech disorders, such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), can be difficult to treat and can be extremely frustrating for patients and their families.  Often, children and adults with motor speech disorders know what they want to say, but have difficulty saying sounds, syllables, and words to express their thoughts and feelings.

In the case of CAS, this difficulty is this is not because of a muscle weakness or paralysis.  The problem is related to difficulty planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed to produce speech.  The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.   As you can imagine, this can be very frustrating.

Treatment of motor speech disorders depends on the severity, however research shows the children with motor speech disorders have more success when they receive frequent and intensive treatment.

The focus of intervention for motor speech disorders is on improving the planning, sequencing, and coordination of muscle movements for speech production.

Feedback from a number of senses, such as tactile “touch” cues and visual cues (e.g., watching him/herself in the mirror) as well as auditory feedback, is often helpful. With this multi-sensory feedback, the child can more readily repeat syllables, words, sentences and longer utterances to improve muscle coordination and sequencing for speech.

Hippotherapy is a wonderful motor and sensory activity
Speech therapy session incorporating equine movement

Speech therapy incorporating equine movement (also referred to as hippotherapy) is effective for some patients with CAS.  The movement of the horse helps to organize the sensory systems which in turn impacts upon the motor systems.  Speech therapy incorporating equine movement (hippotherapy) helps to improve motor planning deficits (such as those observed in apraxia of speech).   As a result of organization of the sensory systems and coordination of the musculature of the face and mouth a decrease in drooling and an increase in speech is often noted during and following hippotherapy. 

PROMPT (C) therapy has also been shown to be effective in the treatment in motor speech disorders.  PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) takes into account all the different ways we use our bodies including: sensory, perception, cognition, ideation, planning and action.

Speech Language Pathology in Motion, located in Hauppauge and Islandia NY is able to combine both of these strategies to help clients with motor speech disorders such as CAS to overcome their challenges.  To learn more visit our website at

Tina is the owner of Speech Language Pathology in Motion, a private practice on Long Island, NY. Her continuing education has included training in numerous speech language pathology treatment techniques including animal assisted therapy, Hippotherapy, PROMPT, DIRFloortime, The SOS Approach to Feeding, NDT, LAMP, and TEACCH. Tina has been recognized as a board certified hippotherapy clinical specialist (HPCS) since 2011 and is one of only ten SLPs in the United States to hold this credential.

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