Five Tips for Communicating With a Person Who Has Aphasia

  1. Speak in a slightly slower speech rate and remember you are talking to an adult. Avoid talking “childlike.”
  2. Use visual supports.  As you are talking, use a whiteboard or blank paper to print salient, relevant words to enhance the message you are relaying. Point to items in your surroundings that relate to your message. Use gestures, drawings, facial expressions for additional support.
  3. Avoid distractions. Noisy environments and background noise may impede comprehension.  Conversation should be face-to-face to aid understanding. 
  4.  “Check-in” to be sure the person with aphasia is following the conversation.  It is possible that there is too much information being conveyed and simpler, shorter sentences are required.  Ask, “are you following me?”, “Is what I’m saying clear?”, or “Should I say it another way?”.  
  5. Be mindful of how you ask questions.  Many people with aphasia require choices or yes/no questions.  Instead of asking, “What do you want for dinner tonight?”, you may need to ask, “Do you want to stay home for dinner?”, “Do you want Asian food?”, or offer written choices including “Asian, Italian, other…” These forced choices provide greater opportunities for successful responses. 

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