Aphasia help
Home Up Aphasia help What aphasia is


The communication difficulty caused by aphasia can cause anger and depression.  There are also other effects of aphasia, including:

bullettiring easily
bulletextreme or inappropriate emotions (laughing inappropriately, etc.)
bulletA need for a predictable, unchanging routine.
bulletFeelings of embarrassment or guilt.
bulletFear of failure

Family members may experience their own reactions to the situation, including anxiety, anger, confusion, despair, and depression.  The 13 strategies below can help. 

Other Resources

Aphasia Therapy Software

Stroke resources
TBI Resources

13 Strategies to help family members cope

  1. Join A Self-Help Group.   There are support groups you can attend locally and ones that are on the internet. [More info on support groups]
  2. Make the survivor feel like a contributing member of the family by involving them in family decisions and in their own recovery.  (Survivors can work on rehabilitation independently with aphasia software)
  3. Give the person time to talk. Don't speak for him/her.
  4. Help them understand you, by speaking more slowly and speaking in short, clear sentences.
  5. Use gestures (e.g., pantomime) to help the person with aphasia understand you.
  6. Communicate through touch.
  7. Sympathize with  the frustration your loved one feels at not being able to communicate effectively.  Just knowing that you know how they feel helps a lot.
  8. You may need to assume more responsibility for starting a conversation and keeping it going. If a misunderstanding occurs, paraphrase or repeat more simply. A speech-language pathologist can show you ways to help with newly learned communication strategies. If an alternative form of communication is recommended, such as a communication board, you should be directly involved in the planning process.
  9. Take an active role in therapy.  You can also help to provide therapy at home. [Help for therapy at home]
  10. The caregiver must care for themselves as well.  You won't be able to provide care if you're exhausted and burned-out
     -- get enough sleep and keep up your relationships with friends and relatives..
  11. Keep up with leisure activities. Consider this necessary rather than selfish.
  12. Avoid making other major life changes, like moving, at this time.
  13. They may fear failure.  This can cause them to avoid social interactions.  Group therapy (with other aphasics) or online support groups can provide a safe environment in which to gain confidence.  Software-based therapy can provide an opportunity to fail without any embarrassment.  (Only the computer knows if he/she makes a mistake.

Communication Skills

Family members also can help the person with aphasia to develop new skills to compensate for the communication problems.  Every interaction with the survivor can be therapeutic

Let'em sweat - 

Speech therapy is like exercising at the gym.  At the gym, you want to work hard enough to sweat, but not so hard that you injure yourself or fall down.

Independence and Success: A delicate balance

If  the survivor is having difficulty, provide them with only the minimum help they need to succeed.  Remember the goal isn't for you to understand them as much as it is for them to communicate with you.  The goal is their success.  If you do it for them, it won't feel like a success.  For example, if the survivor is trying to say "milk", and you think you know what they want (because they always want milk), you could just put milk in front of them and see if that appeases them.  That solves the immediate problem of their desire for milk.  However, a more therapeutic alternative would be to help them communicate. You could:

  1. Give them some time to come up with the word, or an alternative word.  (Sometimes they can become nervous if they feel they are under pressure to perform)
  2. Let them write it down, or spell it with letter tiles (form a Scrabble game, or just written on pieces of cardboard or paper.
  3. Give them a list of words to choose from.

Tips for ongoing home therapy

  1. Continue to talk to the family member with aphasia.
  2. Keep the speech-language pathologist informed about the means of communication that the family finds best.
  3. Talk to the person as an adult and not as a child.
  4. Have appropriate expectations for speech and language but accept attempts at communication through whatever means possible rather than demanding speech. The person with aphasia may be able to communicate successfully using gestures rather than speech or as a supplement to speech.
  5. Create therapy momentumStudies show that, absent consistent therapy, the survivor's language skills will not improve, and in fact they will decline. A  taste of success and improvement will likely motivate the survivor to continue working. Likewise, a decline (due to lack of therapy) can leave them frustrated and unwilling to work toward recovery.  Remember, therapy can many forms: with a speech therapist, with you, with a computer, etc.

Books you can purchase on aphasia therapy http://www.aphasia.org/NAAreadings.html