Communication Strategies

Tips for Communicating with Aphasics

  • You will find that every aphasic patient's communication skills and needs are different. The following information consists of general suggestions for improving your ability to communicate with an aphasic individual. More detailed information should be obtained from a speech language pathologist following a complete assessment of the patient.
  • Treat the patient like an adult. Do not treat the patient as if he/she is a child.
  • Do not talk in a loud voice just because he is not responding to you.
  • Do not avoid talking to the patient.
  • Encourage greetings and other types of automatic speech responses.
  • In most cases, it is necessary to use simple, more direct statements.
  • Do not assume that he doesn't understand just because he can't speak.
  • Ask "yes" or "no" questions rather than questions requiring complex responses.
  • Encourage eye contact. The aphasic patient often gets cues from the environment, gestures, and facial expressions.
  • Give the patient time to respond. Do not interrupt. Only supply words when he is becoming frustrated.
  • You can often cue the aphasic patient to say the appropriate word by giving him a sentence completion. Ex. If you know he wants to sit up in the chair, use this cue: "Sit in the _____."
  • Do not correct his speech. Instead, restate what you think he is trying to say for clarification.
  • Encourage use of other modes of communication. The patient may be successful at writing, gesturing, using a communication notebook with pictures, or drawing pictures.
  • Talk about things that are familiar to patient.
  • You can often help the patient communicate his thoughts by asking questions, but do not bombard him/her with too many questions.
  • If he/she seems to have difficulty understanding what you say, and simplifying it doesn't help, try writing it on paper, and/or using gestures to assist in comprehension.