What is Aphasia?
A person with aphasia may have trouble
speaking, understanding, reading, and/or
writing. It comes from injury to the area of
the brain that controls language. Aphasia is
not a loss of intelligence. People with
aphasia may also have other changes. These
changes may be muscle weakness, decreased
sensation, trouble swallowing, and/or
trouble with attention and recall.
Aphasia can range from mild to severe.
Someone with a mild case may only have a
few problems thinking of the word he/she
wants to say. Someone with a severe case
may not be able to speak at all or understand
any questions. A speech-language
pathologist will work to find the language
problems and provide treatment.
Expressive Aphasia: This is when a person
has trouble expressing himself/herself, either
by speaking or writing. He/She may:
ξ Speak in single words
ξ Speak in short phrases
ξ Not say smaller words like “the”
and “of”. Speech patterns may
sound like a telegram (e.g., “go
ξ Put words in the wrong order
(e.g., “The cake ate the girl.”).
ξ Switch sounds and words (e.g.,
bed is called table or dishwasher
a "wish dasher").
ξ Make up words. This is also
Receptive Aphasia: This is when a person
has trouble understanding what someone is
saying or what he/she is reading. He/She
ξ Take extra time to answer
questions or follow directions.
ξ Not know what words mean.
ξ Only understand short and simple
ξ Not know what common sayings
mean (ex. “once in a blue
ξ Not be able to answer questions
the right way.
ξ Not follow commands.
What Causes Aphasia?
This is caused by damage to parts of the
brain that contain language, most often due
ξ Brain trauma
ξ Brain tumors
ξ Aneurysm bleeds
How to Help
A speech-language pathologist will work to
find the best way to help the person. Some
of the following may be helpful for the
person with aphasia.
ξ Speak slowly.
ξ Give the first letter or sound of a
ξ Use simple, direct language (ex.
“Are you hungry?” instead of
“Do you want something to eat
ξ Give the person with aphasia
extra time to respond.
ξ Give choices to help someone
answer a question (ex. “Do you
want water or coffee?”).
ξ Have only one person talk at a
ξ Keep the room quiet and
minimize distractions (ex. shut
the door, turn off TV or radio).
ξ Keep conversations short.
A picture board may help a person with
aphasia get his/her needs met when speaking
is hard. A speech-language pathologist will
make one and show you how to use it.
If you have any questions, contact your
family member’s speech pathologist at
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospital
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6678