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APHASIA COMMUNICATION TIPS: Proper support can help ease frustration

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Aphasia is a communication disorder resulting from damage to the parts of the brain involved with language. It is most often caused by stroke, though brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and progressive #neurological disorders may also cause aphasia. Aphasia can affect a person’s ability to use words and/or understand words, read and write, but aphasia does not affect intelligence.

Individuals with #aphasia will tell you about the feelings of isolation and frustration that they experience due to their communication challenges. With proper support from communication partners, much of this frustration can be erased.

Tips to communicate with a person who has aphasia (from

  • Get the person’s attention before you start speaking.

  • Maintain eye contact and watch the person’s body language and use of gestures.

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

  • Keep your voice at a normal level. Do not speak loudly unless the person asks you to do so.

  • Keep #communication simple, but adult. Don’t “talk down” to the person with aphasia.

  • Simplify your sentences and emphasize keywords.

  • Reduce your rate of #speech

  • Give the individual time to speak. Resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.

  • Communicate with drawings, gestures, #writing, and facial #expressions in addition to speech.

  • Encourage the person to use drawings, gestures, and writing.

  • Use “yes” and “no” questions rather than open-ended questions.

  • Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors.

  • Avoid insisting that each word be produced perfectly.

  • Engage in normal #activities whenever possible.

  • Encourage #independence and avoid being overprotective.



Rosemarie Roberts is a speech-language pathologist at Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation Center in East Lansing.

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