Language difficulties are common in people who've had strokes. Stroke victims may have trouble speaking or understanding speech, a problem known as aphasia.
Aphasia can take many forms:
- Anomic aphasia: difficulty naming objects or places
- Conduction aphasia: somewhat normal speech, but the person can't repeat what another person has said
- Expressive or Broca's aphasia: thoughts can't be expressed at all
- Fluent aphasia: speech may sound normal, but incorrect words and sounds are substituted
- Nonfluent aphasia: speech is slow and difficult, and words are often left out
- Global aphasia: difficulty with all language functions
- Receptive or Wernicke's aphasia: sounds are heard but not understood
Other common language problems
Other common language difficulties include:
- speech apraxia: difficulty planning the physical movements necessary for speech
- dysarthria: difficulty or inability articulating speech
- writing impairment, which also includes difficulty reading
What you can do to help with language problems
- Consult a speech therapist. A therapist won't only help a stroke victim relearn language skills, she can help you come up with strategies for communicating.
- Don't yell. Speak in a normal voice.
- Avoid slang. Use simple words and short sentences.
- Try using gestures, pointing at objects, or making picture cards.
- "Jump start" his communication. If he's having a hard time remembering a word or phrase, you can sometimes help get his speech going by making the first sound of a word. But first give him some extra time to get the words out.
- Acknowledge that this is a frustrating and difficult situation for both of you. If you need to take a break, give yourself a short time-out.
- Keep your sense of humor. Although your loved one may have a hard time understanding abstract jokes, you can defuse a lot of frustration simply by laughing -- as long as he knows that you're laughing with him, not at him.
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