Communicating with Individuals with Aphasia
Aphasia is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate, but does not affect intellect! Be sure to check out these tips when communicating with someone with aphasia. Be simple, be patient, be creative!
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”- Tony Robbins
1. Be Simple
Simplicity is crucial when communicating with an individual with aphasia. Make your sentences short and sweet. Say one thing at a time. Do not overwhelm the individual with too much information at once.
2. Be Patient
Slow down, and be patient! Give the individual some time to process what you are saying. Also allow extra time for them to express themselves without interrupting. If you see the individual ‘struggling’ to communicate their thought, I recommend giving them a few seconds before jumping in to help. Although you want to help, just jumping in can increase frustration.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Try to eliminate any background noise (radio, tv, phones, people talking around you). Go to a quiet area where you and the individual can really focus on communicating without any distractions.
4.Communicate with Another Modality
Visuals, Visuals, Visuals!!! Visual are extremely beneficial when communicating with an individual with aphasia. Visuals come in many different forms, and benefit the individual by allowing them to have another modality to interpret/ express a message. Rather than just auditorily hearing a message, use writing (mini dry erase board), pictures, or even an Ipad to assist in your conversation. Use your environment to enhance your conversation by pointing to an item in the room that you are referring to.
5. Ask What Helps
Have the individual tell you what helps. Every individual with aphasia is unique. Therefore don’t hesitate to ask their opinion on what helps them the most.
Recap! Clarify! Show the individual that you understand. If you are unsure of something, ASK! Don’t pretend you understand when really you don’t. Clarify when necessary.
(American Heart Association)
For more tips about aphasia check out: http://www.aphasia.org/
Pamela Leibowitz MA CF-SLP TSSLD