Getting Familiar With Speech Disorders: Aphasia

Getting Familiar With Speech Disorders: Aphasia | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Northern VA

Often when we think of speech disorders, we think of developmental issues which occur in children.

There are however many speech disorders which can occur in adults as well.

Today we will take a closer look at one of these, and examine symptoms, causes, and speech therapy treatment for aphasia.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Aphasia

Aphasia is a condition which makes it hard to communicate.

It can hinder your ability to speak, write, read, and understand others.

The onset of aphasia typically comes following a stroke or traumatic head injury, but may also develop alongside a brain tumor or progressive disease.

Signs And Symptoms Of Aphasia

Aphasia can affect a number of areas of communication, including ability to speak, reading comprehension, and ability to comprehend others.

Let’s have a look at some of the symptoms which might come up in each of these areas.


A person with aphasia may have difficulty with some aspects of reading and writing.

These include:

  • Having trouble using numbers or doing basic math such as telling time on a clock, addition and subtraction, or counting money
  • Problems with spelling and stringing words together to form sentences
  • Reading, including books, screens, and forms or paperwork


Issues related to speech aphasia include:

  • Difficulty forming sentences
  • Being unable to think of the words you want to say
  • Combining real words with made up words into nonsensical sentences
  • Swapping out sounds in words, for example saying “wishdasher” instead of “dishwasher”
  • Saying the wrong word


People with aphasia may have difficulty understanding others.

This can include:

  • Finding it hard to understand or follow others in large groups, or if there is a lot of background noise
  • Not understanding jokes
  • Having trouble understanding what others are saying, especially if they are speaking quickly or using long sentences

What Causes Aphasia?

The most common reason aphasia develops is as a side effect of a stroke.

A 2015 study in the Journal of Neurology and Translational Neuroscience notes that aphasia is present in 21 to 38 percent of acute strokes.

Although strokes are the most common cause, aphasia can develop from any type of brain damage or injury, including:

  • Traumatic injury to the brain
  • Brain tumors
  • Infection
  • Degenerative disorders

what you need to know about aphasia in children | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Northern VA

How Can A Speech Therapist Test For Aphasia?

If you find you are experiencing signs which could indicate aphasia, a speech therapist can help by testing to determine if this is the cause of your symptoms.

They will test factors such as your ability to:

  • Remember the names of common items
  • Understand words and phrases, and respond to questions
  • Follow along with stories
  • Read and write
  • Read short stories and answering questions based on their content
  • Carry on a conversation
  • Use words correctly
  • Repeat words and phrases
  • Obey instructions
  • Use forms of communication other than speaking, for instance, pointing or gesturing

How Can A Speech Therapist Treat Aphasia?

In mild cases of aphasia, sometimes an afflicted individual will regain their language skills without intervention.

It is more common, however, for individuals to undergo speech and language therapy in order to restore their language skills.

Speech rehabilitation can be a long and slow process.

In some cases, developing alternative ways to communicate, such as hand gestures, writing, or pointing to pictures can help you to be able to communicate while working to more fully restore your speech.

Brain stimulation therapy is another area being studied, however, there needs to be more research done into the effectiveness of this as a treatment for aphasia.

What To Do If A Loved One Has Aphasia

It can be difficult and even heartbreaking when you lose communication with a friend or loved one because they have developed speech aphasia.

Having patience with them will be key to maintaining trust and communication.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when communicating with someone who has aphasia:

  • Keep your pace slow and your sentences simple
  • Stop to ensure they understand what you have talked about
  • Avoid large group scenarios – one-on-one conversations will be easier for them to follow
  • Involve the person with aphasia in the conversation
  • Allow time for the other person to digest what you have said, and form a response – some silence may feel uncomfortable, however, they may need extra time to respond
  • Don’t finish their sentences for them
  • Ask clarifying questions to ensure you are understanding what they are saying
  • Use drawings, gestures, and other alternative forms of communication to convey meaning.
  • Reduce distractions
  • Have pens and paper readily available, and use drawings to help convey your point when needed
  • Use images, words, and pictures to assist with conversation

Always keep in mind that although it can be frustrating to try to communicate with someone who has difficulty with understanding, it is even more frustrating for them – a little patience and understanding can go a long way.

Book An Appointment With District Speech

Have you experienced a stroke and are worried that it’s resulted in aphasia?

Or more likely, you’ve been noticing changes in a friend or loved one after a stroke or other brain injury.

If speech and language issues are starting to developing, the sooner you can intervene, the better.

Contact District Speech for a consultation today, whether you suspect aphasia and need a diagnosis, or have a diagnosis and want to start treatment, we can help.

District Speech and Language Therapy
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005


District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.