Aphasia:Communicating Through Barriers
What is aphasia?
Aphasia is a language disorder that impairs the ability to communicate. It’s most often caused by stroke-related injuries to areas of the brain that control speech and language.
I have aphasia.
What to do if you get stuck:
- Admit you’re struggling.
- Recap what you’ve discussed so far.
- Decide whether to carry on or come back to the subject later.
Take your time – It may take a while to get the words out. Let people know what works best for you – Do you want a question asked in multiple ways? Let them know.
Use assistive devices – Bring photos, diagrams, pen and paper or other helpful tools.
Frustration is OK – Don’t blame yourself is you get stuck or stumble over the words.
Be patient with yourself as you learn what works. I need to communicate with someone who has aphasia.
Keep it simple – Speak in short, simple sentences.
Be patient – Allow plenty of time for a response. Talk with the person who has aphasia, not for him or her.
Remove distractions – Turn off radios and TVs.
Be creative – Try writing, gesturing, drawing pictures or using devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Confirm – Repeat back what you think the person said or meant.
Facts about people with aphasia:
- They communicate differently but are as smart as they were before they developed aphasia.
- Their hearing is usually fine, so speaking loudly does not help.
- Their condition just means you’ll have to communicate differently with them.
Learn more at stroke.org/Aphasia
The American Stroke Association and the National Aphasia Association – collaborating to help stroke survivors beat aphasia. The American Heart Association’s secondary prevention initiative is nationally sponsored by Bayer® Aspirin. ©Copyright 2020 American Heart Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved. American Stroke Association is a registered trademark of the AHA. Unauthorized use prohibited. DS16188 5/20