Tips for Communicating with a Person with Aphasia

June is Aphasia Awareness Month, a campaign headed by the National Aphasia Association intended to raise public awareness of aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder caused by neurological damage which results in impairment of one of the modalities of communication—speech, reading, writing, or listening—while leaving intelligence relatively intact. Today, we’ll discuss some basic tips for communicating with a person who has aphasia.

-Focusing on and understanding speech can be problematic for some people with aphasia. Before speaking with a person with aphasia, make sure that background noise is as minimal as possible. Turn off appliances that make noise, such as radios or air conditioners, and if possible, avoid areas with side conversations going on. 

-Although speech and language production can be impaired in aphasia, many people who suffer from aphasia can communicate verbally to some extent. One of the most important ways you can help someone with aphasia to communicate is to give them time to speak. After asking a question, give the person ample time to respond. Do not attempt to finish their sentences for them or guess what they are trying to say. Rushing a person with aphasia or talking over them can create additional pressure that further impairs communicative ability.

-Keep questions simple. If you need information from a person with aphasia, ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no or possibly a gesture. This allows the person to communicate effectively even if they are having particular difficulty expressing themselves with language at that time.

Stay tuned: next week we’ll continue our observance of Aphasia Awareness Month with more useful tips for communicating with individuals with aphasia.

If you or someone you love has a communication disorder, contact Speech Associates of New York and allow our professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists help you communicate to the best of your ability. Our team provides in-home evaluations and therapy, and is trained in the assessment and treatment of a range of pediatric and adult speech, language and communication disorders. Call us today at (917) 841-2965 and find out how we can help you communicate your best!

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