Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person with Aphasia

tired-womanDid you know that June is National Aphasia Awareness Month? Aphasia is a language disorder which affects the ability to produce or understand spoken or written language following a neurological injury. Aphasia is a disorder that can vary greatly from person to person depending on the extent and type of neurological damage; while some people may have some mild difficulty with word retrieval, others may be almost completely unable to communicate verbally.

People who are diagnosed with aphasia typically receive therapy from a speech-language pathologist to help improve language and communication skills and improve quality of life. Caregivers and loved ones can also change the way they communicate to make communication easier for a person with aphasia. Here are some tips from the National Aphasia Association for communicating with a person with aphasia:

1) Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start.

2) Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).

3) Keep your own voice at a normal level, unless the person has indicated otherwise.

4) Keep communication simple, but adult.  Simplify your own sentence structure and reduce your rate of speech.  Emphasize key words.  Don’t “talk down” to the person with aphasia.

5) Give them time to speak.  Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.

6) Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions in addition to speech.

7) Confirm that you are communicating successfully with “yes” and “no” questions.

8) Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors.  Avoid insisting that that each word be produced perfectly.

9) Engage in normal activities whenever possible.  Do not shield people with aphasia from family or ignore them in a group conversation.  Rather, try to involve them in family decision-making as much as possible.  Keep them informed of events but avoid burdening them with day to day details.

10) Encourage independence and avoid being overprotective.

Aphasia can be a life-changing disorder, but language and communication can be improved even years after an injury with help from a trained and certified speech-language pathologist.

For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!

© 2014, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

Source: http://www.aphasia.org/content/communication-tips

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