Small talk, big talk, smooth talk, fast talk, back talk, straight talk, and all of the other kinds of talk add to our lives as we strive to understand our world, express our wants, needs, and desires, and build relationships with those around us. However, sometimes an injury or illness can impact our understanding and use of language. When this occurs, it is called aphasia.
Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that results from an injury to the brain (typically the left side). Strokes, tumors, traumatic brain injuries, dementia, and brain infections are common causes. These injuries can affect an individual’s ability to talk, understand, write, and/or read.
Some examples of aphasia can include:
- Difficulty thinking of words to say
- Saying the wrong word (example: horse instead of dog), using made-up words, or mixing of both real and made up words
- Using only single words or a few words instead of a complete sentence, may omit words
- Switching sounds in words (example: Fell Cone instead of Cell Phone)
- Not understanding what is being said by others, may be even more noticeable in groups or louder environments
- Difficulty reading notes, books, or computer documents
- Problems with using math for banking, telling time, or other math functions
- Misspelling word that could be spelled correctly prior to the injury or illness
- Issues with writing full sentences
Speech language pathologists work with clients who experience aphasia. Treatment focuses on regaining language skills that were lost, using the current level of language as effectively as possible, and developing new communication systems as needed.
Family and friends can encourage communication and provide opportunities for a loved one to talk. Below are a few tips for talking with an individual who has aphasia.
- Simplify language, use short sentence and repeat key words as needed
- Slow down and allow extra time for the individual to respond
- Use pictures, writing, and gestures to help convey a message if needed
- Ask the individual to try writing, drawing, pointing or gesturing if they are having a hard time expressing themself
- Ask questions that only require a yes/no response or use questions with simple choices (example: Do you want water or soda?)
- Talk at a normal voice volume
- Reduce distractions and background noise when talking
- Treat the individual as an adult, allowing them to try and helping when asked
- Allow mistakes and do not correct so that a safe environment is created that encourages communication
Enablr Therapy has a team of talented speech language pathologists who can work with you or your loved one to address language concerns. View our Therapy Services page to learn more.