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.
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 former director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.