Aphasia is a general term used to describe a loss of language ability due to injury in the language centers of the brain. Difficulties can range from mild in one or two areas, to more severe difficulties that affect all areas of language functioning. These can include problems understanding language, speaking, reading or writing, gesturing, turn-taking, problem solving, memory, etc. Aphasia occurs most frequently after a stroke, however, other illnesses and disease processes can also reduce a person’s ability to use or understand language. It is important to know that aphasia is a communication problem and is not related to a person’s intelligence. People with aphasia generally know more than they can say.
A frequent sign of aphasia is searching for words, saying incorrect words or saying words that do not seem to make sense; sentences can be incomplete or disorganized. Other symptoms can include difficulty understanding others or following directions; inability to read or write; interpreting speech too literally; trouble remembering faces or names, etc.
Every person with aphasia is unique. A speech therapist can help to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, to ensure that therapy is tailored to their specific needs. Ongoing education about strategies to support the development of functional communication skills can help to diminish barriers often experienced in personal and social relationships.
For more information, please see: www.osla.on.ca/en/aphasia