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Janet Brown

Ask the Expert: Aphasia
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My husband has aphasia as a result of a TBI. How can I help other people feel more comfortable talking with him?


Let's start with a definition. Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects the ability to use or understand language. It can affect the ability to talk, understand speech, and read and write, but does not affect intelligence. It is typically acquired as a result of a stroke or other brain injury.

Since most people don't know what aphasia is, they don't know what to expect. Encourage family and friends to learn about aphasia before they see your husband. Here are some other tips for the family and friends of someone with aphasia.

  • Ask others to follow your example and watch what you do when you talk with your husband.
  • Try to keep gatherings small so there are fewer distractions.
  • Encourage family and friends to ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. This will help keep your husband from feeling too pressured.
  • Start the conversation with familiar topics like sports, family, or the weather. (For example, “Did you see the game last night?”) If your husband gets stuck, the other person will be able to keep the conversation going.


Click here to go to About Ask the Expert.

Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLPJanet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP, Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP spent twenty years in practice at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is the current director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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Comments [5]

It might not help others but I also have dealt with aphasia post injury - one thing that helped me alot was to read familiar books (or songs or bible passages) outloud - the words were provided for me, it gave me the exercise of talking out loud and helped my confidence. As well, when I look at an object I list several names for it so if I miss the one I intend to use (eg monitor) I can sub it with others (eg. screen, tv, display unit for computer).

Sep 16th, 2015 12:49pm

My TBI happened in October 2003. I soundly like the Muppets Swedish chef. I went though speech therapy for a year (Oct. 2003 - Sept. 2004). My aphasia is pretty much under control as long as I don't try to talk too fast or if I'm tired. The good thing is that I notice it happening faster then the people I talking with hear it. When it does happens, I just say something like "let me try again" or groan and use the right word I missed. - Ric

Sep 14th, 2015 12:12pm

I agree with the need of more rehabilitative facilities :)

Jun 8th, 2015 8:57pm

My son also has Aphasia from a motorcycle accident in 2006.  It keeps him from conversing with almost everyone except yes and no answers.  He no longer has a social life except for our small family unit.  Wish there were more treatment options nearby.

Apr 9th, 2015 8:47pm

My son has a tbi he has a lot of trouble talking. This happened in 2009. He is just now starting to make progress. If anyone has any ideas .

Jan 12th, 2015 12:27am

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