Speech in Aphasia - It's not the only way to communicate

Speech in Aphasia: It's not the only way to communicate

"I want him/her to talk!"

I was explaining our philosophy and our program to a prospective client the other day, and I heard these familiar words. Of course everyone's goal is to speak better–that's the hallmark problem of aphasia. However, using gesture and other forms of communication are also important. Speaking better and being able to use gesture, written words, or writing are all part of the same goal! Communication is about more than just speaking, isn't it?

Communication is important, we all know that. But communication doesn't consist entirely of speech. If you've been having issues or frustrations because your loved one plays "20 questions" with you, then wouldn't it be nice for both of you to have more and faster ways to communicate? Our goal is to reduce the amount of frustration for all parties involved, as well as to improve the communication pathways. If your loved one cannot say at the time "I want to get the boat cleaned" but can point to the boat or give you the number for the boat-cleaner, isn't this a good place to start? It's always easier when you at least know the topic.

What most people don't know is that by using these alternatives, or multimodal, forms of communication, comprehension and expression of language are improved for both the listener and the speaker. The person with aphasia may produce speech more quickly and easily when trying to use gestures when they speak. For example, the person with aphasia can make the gesture for "toothbrush" by pretending to brush his teeth,  then all of a sudden–out comes "Toothbrush" . Additionally, seeing the word "toothbrush" may help him say it. This happens ALL THE TIME!

So please remember, your goals are our goals, we may just go about them differently. The end result, however, should be improved overall communication. This is what we're all striving for!

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About Dr. Bartels

Dr. Bartels is a published aphasia researcher, presenter, author, and founder of The Aphasia Center Intensive Aphasia Program. She is an aphasia diagnostic and treatment expert with over 11 years of daily experience. She helps families with aphasia all over the world plan their recovery and exceed their goals.

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