A person with aphasia may have difficulty in all areas of language: saying what they want to say; understanding what others say; reading; and writing. Aphasia does not, however, mean a loss of intelligence.
Each person with aphasia is different. Differences depend on many factors such as the severity and location of the stroke and the person's age. Some people may have physical problems while others do not. Try to avoid comparing the recovery of your family member with that of anyone else.
Even though people with aphasia may experience life differently than before their injuries, they can still lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. Depression, however, is a common consequence for a person with aphasia. Family and friends should keep an eye out for it and contact a physician accordingly.
While getting out into the community and visiting with family and friends is beneficial, people with aphasia should try to attend aphasia groups for additional support. Being around other people who understand the condition is very important. Even a speech–language therapist, doctor, psychologist or family member does not know exactly what it is like to live with aphasia day in and day out.
Conversational Tips for the Communication Partner
- Be patient and listen carefully.
- Repeat your comments, if necessary.
- Slow down your speech.
- Write things down – the important key words that you are saying and the important key words that you think the person with aphasia is trying to say.
- Some people with aphasia want to be corrected as they are talking; others do not. Check first before correcting or guessing a communication.
- Verify that you understand what the person with aphasia is trying to communicate.
- Think of the person with aphasia as a survivor, not a victim.
- Think of how frustrating it is NOT to be able to express yourself.
- Some situations, thoughts or ideas may be harder to communicate than others. Be patient.
- Some family members have better communication skills than others. If you slow down and take time to listen and understand the person with aphasia, you will both have more worthwhile and meaningful conversations.
This document was created by the Aphasia Advocacy Group which includes individuals with aphasia. For more information about aphasia support at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, call the Center for Aphasia Research and Treatment, 312.238.6163.
© Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago). Reprinted with permission.