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By Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Usynlig handicap Del

Aphasia, previously also known as Dysphasia, is when a person has difficulty with their language or speech. Communication is complex, and we use many ways to connect with people and share our wishes, thoughts and ideas. We need to be able to both understand other peoples’ communication and use our own. Aphasia affects each person differently; for some people, it can affect only one aspect of communication, such as reading or speaking, but it usually simultaneously affects several aspects of communication. In its severest form, the person with aphasia may have little or no speech and find it difficult to follow a simple conversation.

Aphasia is caused by brain damage, for example, after a stroke, trauma to the head, or certain forms of dementia. It can present by itself or alongside other conditions, such as, problems with memory or thinking skills.

Reviewed March 2024 (details below)

Aphasia is an invisible disability

  • Wave icon
    Aphasia is a complex communication disability it affects each person living with it differently
  • Gear icon
    A stroke is the biggest cause of aphasia
  • Globe icon
    Millions of people globally will develop Aphasia each year
  • Document tick icon
    84.5% of people have never heard the term “aphasia.”
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    Aphasia stats & facts poster

Aphasia affects everyone differently. It can cause a variety of problems related to communication it doesn't affect intelligence.

Aphasia can lead to:

  • Exclusion from conversations or decisions
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Lack of confidence
  • Depression
  • Frustration and anger which may cause changes in personality or behaviour
  • Difficulties with memory
  • Breakdown in relationships

Patterns of aphasia

Aphasia can involve difficulty understanding and processing messages whether this is through listening to other peoples’ speech or reading what is written down, It can also cause difficulties using speech to communicate, or writing things down. Aphasia is different for everyone, it can vary from day to day and even within a day.

Here are some examples of how this might appear.

  • struggling to ‘find’ words– such as the names of objects, places or people, or using a wrong but related word – such as saying "chair" instead of "table", ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’
  • slow and halting speech, missing out smaller words such as ‘as’ ‘until’ ‘for’
  • difficulty making sentences, putting words in the wrong order
  • spelling or errors with grammar
  • using nonsense words or the speech not making sense
  • difficulty following a conversation particularly with more than 2 people
  • difficulty understanding anything written down
  • misinterpreting the meaning of words
  • giving responses that may not make sense if they've misunderstood questions or comments
  • not being aware of their difficulties with understanding,
  • using humour to distract people away from a focus on their difficulties
  • difficulties having a conversation in a noisy room
  • inability to use speech if there is pressure to hurry up
  • reliance on using gestures, drawing or pictures to communicate
  • saying things that don’t make sense through not understanding comments or questions

Aphasia can make even everyday conversations challenging and can affect almost every aspect of daily life; using the telephone, writing an email, or speaking to family and friends, ordering in a café, filling in a form, reading get well cards, telling the doctor what is wrong, following a TV programme …. The list is endless. Some people, places and styles of communication can make things worse for people with aphasia. However, some things can help.

There are some types of dementia where aphasia is part of the pattern of difficulty; communication gets worse over time.

It is useful to find out more about a person’s pattern of difficulty so that you can provide the right support for them. However, some general changes will help






NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/aphasia/
National Aphasia Association: https://www.aphasia.org/
National Institure of Deafness and other Communication Disorders:  nidcd.nih.go
Stroke Association: www.stroke.org.uk/

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The content on this page has been reviewed by Speakeasy (June 2024). At Speakeasy we improve the lives of people affected by aphasia - a complex communication disability caused by stroke or other brain damage. It doesn’t affect intelligence but it can rob a person of their ability to hold a conversation, read, write or use numbers. This can cost them their relationships, sense of self and their roles in life. Speakeasy creates and provides innovative services, therapy and resources to help people develop new communication strategies, skills and confidence so they can re-engage with the world around them. Our training could help you and your organisations to engage better with someone who has a
communication disability.

Contact Speakeasy for more information by clicking here.



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