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Suffolk Center for Speech

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Aphasia

Aphasia is a language disorder that happens when you have brain damage. Your brain has two halves. Language skills are in the left half of the brain in most people. Damage on that side of your brain may lead to language problems. Damage on the right side of your brain may cause other problems, like poor attention or memory. Aphasia may make it hard for you to understand, speak, read, or write. It does not make you less smart or cause problems with the way you think. Brain damage can also cause other problems along with aphasia. You may have muscle weakness in your mouth, called dysarthria. You may have trouble getting the muscles of your mouth to move the right way to say words, called apraxia. You can also have swallowing problems called dysphagia. A very critical component to cognition is memory; it is critical to language development. Aphasia is not a memory disorder, nor is it a thought disorder. There are two main types of aphasia, fluent and non-fluent. Fluent aphasia shows no difficulty with producing verbal utterances but their verbal utterances have no comprehension and their comprehension is impaired. Individuals with non-fluent aphasia have more difficulty initiating speech and verbal output, however, their comprehension is more intact. Comprehension is usually impaired in most patients, but not to the same degree. If a person has a problem with working memory, they will often have a difficulty with processing language. A person who has a problem with comprehension often has a problem with working memory, it is important to work on this in therapy. Understanding the framework of working memory can help a person understand the problems a person with aphasia may have. Memory plays a critical role in understanding the rules of language. An intact working memory is essential in resolving problems in lexical as well as structural problems of language. It is always important to remember that Aphasia is a loss of language and not intellect. Aphasia is most often caused by a stroke; however, any type of brain damage can cause a stroke. There are many ways to work on your language. The type of treatment you get depends on what you want and need. You may want your family to be a part of your treatment, they can help you use the skills you learn with your SLP at home. You may also join a support group or Stroke Club for social activities. These tips may make it easier for you to understand and talk with others. Share these tips with your family and friends.

To help me talk with you:

  1. Get my attention before you start speaking.
  2. Keep eye contact with me. Watch my body language and the gestures I use.
  3. Talk to me in a quiet place. Turn off the TV or radio.
  4. Keep your voice at a normal level. You do not need to talk louder unless I ask you to.
  5. Keep the words you use simple but adult. Don’t “talk down” to me.
  6. Use shorter sentences. Repeat key words that you want me to understand.
  7. Slow down your speech.
  8. Give me time to speak. It may take me longer. Try not to finish my sentences for me.
  9. Try using drawings, gestures, writing, and facial expressions. I may understand those better than words sometimes.
  10. Ask me to draw, write, or point when I am having trouble talking.
  11. Ask me “yes” and “no” questions. Those are easier than questions that I have to answer in words or sentences.
  12. Let me make mistakes sometimes. I may not be able to say everything perfectly all the time.
  13. Let me try to do things for myself. I may need to try a few times. Help me when I ask for it.

– Jocelyn S.

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