Did you know that of the estimated 750,000 strokes that occur each year in the United States, about one third result in aphasia? Aphasia is a language disorder caused by neurological damage which results in impairment of some part of language—speech, reading, writing, or listening—while leaving intelligence relatively intact. June is Aphasia Awareness Month, a campaign headed by the National Aphasia Association intended to raise public awareness of aphasia. In support of this campaign, we at Speech Associates of NY will dedicate our blogs this month to issues in aphasia: what it is, how it impacts communication, and how a speech-language pathologist can help.
Although no two people with aphasia are exactly the same, there are some strategies that can be used to help improve communication with people with aphasia in general:
- Before you start speaking, make sure you have the person’s attention. Make eye contact and minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).
- Give the person with aphasia time to speak. Even if the person is having difficulty, 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 your own speech simple without talking down to the person with aphasia. Simplify your sentence structure, slow down your rate of speech, and stress key words.
- If you need information from a person with aphasia, keep your questions simple. Ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” or even a gesture. This allows the person to communicate as effectively as possible, even if they are having difficulty expressing themselves with language.
Do you or does someone you love have aphasia? Share your story in the comments below!
If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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