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What is Aphasia?

Aphasia (or dysphasia) means difficulties with:

  • Speaking
  • Understanding
  • Reading
  • Writing

It occurs when a language part of the brain is damaged after a brain injury or a stroke.

Click here to download our patient leaflet.

 

Is everyone the same?

No. Some people have difficulties with just one part of language. Others have a combination of difficulties. Each person will react differently.

 

What will the Speech and Language Therapist do?

  • Assess your communication.
  • Help you communicate effectively through speech and other means.
  • Provide support and advice to you, your family and friends.
  • Help you use your communication in day to day life.

 

Possible therapy goals:

  • Restoring language abilities as much as possible
  • Improving communication by using remaining strengths.
  • Compensating for language problems by using other methods of communication, e.g. writing, gesturing, pictures.
  • Learning strategies to make communication easier.
  • Teaching caregivers and family members strategies to improve communication with the person with aphasia.

 

How to help with UNDERSTANDING?

  • Ensure you are in quiet place with zero distractions
  • Ensure you have the person’s full attention
  • Use short and simple sentences
  • Talk about one idea at a time
  • Don’t change topic suddenly or without a warning
  • Repeat or rephrase what you have said

 

How to help with UNDERSTANDING?

  • Use gesture, pointing and facial expression
  • Write down key words
  • Use pictures and photos
  • Allow extra time to process what you have said
  • Don’t pretend to understand
  • Don’t be discouraged - keep talking!

 

How to help with SPEAKING?

  • Allow plenty of time to say things
  • Encourage gesturing, pointing, facial expression, drawing, writing, using voice, nodding
  • Use pictures, photos, a few written words which can be pointed to
  • Ask YES / NO questions
  • If you can predict, offer the initial sound: Chair - “You sit on a CH ...”

 

How to help with SPEAKING?

  • Give choices: “Do you mean coffee or tea?”
  • Write down key words
  • Repeat the sentence back and then wait: “I want to go to…”
  • Encourage the person to give you as much information about the word they are thinking of. Ask specific questions:
    • “What do you use it for?”
    • “Where do you find it?”
    • “What does it look like?”
    • “What does it feel like?”

 

How to help with SPEAKING?

  • Give positive feedback if you have understood
  • Try not to correct them if you know what is meant
  • Check your understanding: “You were saying that the doctor came today. Is that right?”

 

Not all techniques will work for everybody

Do not try too many techniques at once as this may lead to an overload of information.

 

Alternatives to Conversation

  • It is important to maintain social contact when communication is difficult.
  • Opportunities and motivation to interact can quickly reduce.
  • Communication is tiring and concentration may be affected, so keep activities short and enjoyable.
  • Listen to the radio, music, audio books, or watch television and encourage comments and opinions.
  • Try turn-taking games that do not rely on language skills, e.g. Connect 4, Ludo, Draughts, Dominoes, simple card games, noughts and crosses.
  • Find jigsaws with an adult theme but few pieces to complete together.
  • Offer to read to them - a newspaper, a letter from a friend, a chapter in a book.
  • Find art activities such as painting-by-numbers or sketch books.
  • If spelling is difficult, try Scrabble, doing word-searches, simple cross-words or hang-man.
  • Look at pictures in books, magazines, photo albums, holiday brochures instead of reading.
  • Go outside or to the hospital cafe and discuss the people, places and things that you see
  • Do not be afraid of simply spending time together (watching TV, holding hands or watching the world go by).