How To Communicate With An Adult With Aphasia

How To Communicate With An Adult With Aphasia | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Northern VA

Are there times when you know what you want to say, but the word you need just doesn’t come to mind?

Or do you find that full sentences are hard to form?

Imagine that all the time.

That’s a reality if you’re one of the million adults in the United States with the speech disorder aphasia

If you have aphasia, you might benefit from speech therapy for adults.

If you don’t have aphasia yourself, however, you might know someone who does.

And if that’s the case, you might find it frustrating as well as disheartening to be able to communicate with your loved one the way you used to.

But what is aphasia, and how can you learn to communicate more effectively with the people around you?

Keep reading to find out.

What Is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder that can make it hard for you to understand language, and may come with challenges related to speaking, reading, and writing.

Aphasia is not correlated with intelligence; many adults with aphasia are able to think clearly and logically and are very smart.

The left half of your brain manages language skills in most people, so damage to that side of the brain may lead to language problems.

What Are The Symptoms Of Adult Aphasia?

There are many symptoms of adult aphasia.

Most people with aphasia have some kind of trouble with speaking, writing, understanding, and/or reading.

The types of challenges vary according to the individual.

Speech Issues

Some of the most common symptoms of aphasia are speech issues related to not being able to think of the words you want to say, and using words that are made-up.

Other aphasia symptoms are related to word association and sounds.

Sometimes, you might accidentally say a word that is related to a word that you want to say, such as “tree” instead of “flower.”

Or you might say a word that doesn’t make sense in context, such as “theater” instead of “tennis.”

If you have aphasia, you might find that you switch sounds in words, for example, saying “dumble tryer” instead of “tumble drier.”

Sentences can also be a challenge if you have aphasia, with single words being easier to say.

Aphasia can affect your reading and writing ability | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Northern VA

Reading & Writing Issues

Aphasia can also affect your reading and writing ability.

If you have aphasia, you might struggle to read text on forms, books, and computer screens.

You might also have trouble spelling and writing full sentences.

Some people with aphasia have trouble with numbers and math, which can make telling the time, counting money, and doing addition and subtraction more difficult.

Speech and language therapy for reading can help.

Understanding Issues

If you have aphasia, you might struggle to understand what others say, especially when they are speaking quickly or if they use longer sentences.

A noisy background or a group setting can also complicate your understanding, if you have aphasia.

Sometimes, you might not understand or recognize a joke.

How Is Adult Aphasia Different From Aphasia In Children?

The main difference between adult aphasia and childhood aphasia is that aphasia in children is usually congenital.

Adults tend to develop aphasia after a stroke or brain injury.

This is why speech therapy exercises for stroke patients often revolve around addressing aphasia.

Whether you acquire aphasia as an adult or have had it since childhood, there are ways to manage it.

How To Communicate With An Adult With Aphasia

Whether you have aphasia or you know someone who has aphasia, there are things you can do to help support effective communication between you.

These tips can also be helpful even if nobody in the conversation has aphasia—effective conversation is something that anyone can strive for.

If you want to have a conversation, let the other person know that you’re talking to them.

This is because aphasia might make it harder for them to understand you, or they might miss what you’re saying if they don’t know you’re trying to talk to them.

Make sure to keep eye contact with the other person and watch their body language, while being mindful of your own body language.

Body language is often helpful in emphasizing the things you are saying and can be a powerful tool in getting your point across, which makes it easier for others to understand you.

Be aware of the noise levels in your conversation environment, and make sure you aren’t speaking too quickly.

If you can reduce background noise by turning off the TV or radio, that will help your conversation partner hear and understand you better.

Less background noise also means that you can talk at a normal volume, though you can raise your voice a little if your conversation partner asks.

Speaking clearly, with shorter sentences and simpler words, but don’t patronize your conversation partner.

Book Your Appointment With District Speech

If either you, or someone you know, has aphasia, you could both benefit from seeing a speech therapist.

A speech therapist is trained to work with people who have speech and language problems like aphasia.

The qualified staff here at District Speech can help identify the challenges you are experiencing with your aphasia and work with you to meet your communication goals.

We can also help your friends and family by teaching them how to communicate more easily, and suggest supplemental or alternative ways to communicate.

Book an appointment at District Speech today.

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.