During a recent Aphasia Cafe chat, 64.6% of people reported that the people they speak with during the day practice aphasia-friendly communication. Half of the time, friends and family asked what they could do to make the conversation aphasia-friendly. The other half of the time, people were happy to adjust if told what to do.
For the chat, we asked people with aphasia, “What do you ask people to do to make communication easier?” We rounded up the answers for anyone who couldn’t attend the chat because we believe people with aphasia are the best people to tell others how to practice aphasia-friendly communication.
15 Communication Tips From People With Aphasia
1. Speaking clearly and asking ONE question at a time. — James B
2. Be patient and speak slowly. — Barbara K
3. Be patient — my message will arrive slowly. — Diane B
4. Email/text or just call. — James J
5. Give me the first sound of the word. When they know the subject, give me a hint. Ask me to find another way to say (pinpoint) the word &/or subject when I hit a speed bump and get stuck. Remind me to take a gentle breath when stuck so I don’t get frustrated. Most of the time, everyone is patient and says, “Take your time.” All these things are helpful. I will ask for help, too. — George C
6. Give me time to get my thoughts out and reduce any background noise. — Trazana S
7. Highlight the “Speak” function on my iPhone — it is invaluable and very aphasia-friendly! — Paul D
8. I ask people to mute the tv so I can concentrate. Often, my family won’t wait for me to speak. Instead, they fill in the blanks for me. I don’t know if this makes it easier for them or me. What I do know is that by assisting me that way, I have a harder time speaking to other people who don’t know about my communication issues. — Laura L
9. I ask people to repeat what they have said and speak slowly. — Marina A
10. I have a card that says, “I have aphasia.” — Rodger
11. I say to people I haven’t met that I’ve had a stroke, and it’s difficult for me to speak. This accomplishes why it’s difficult for me to speak and why, so they don’t think I’ve got a developmental problem, and it provides a baseline in speech so they don’t think I’m mute. But what’s more important to me is what I DON’T tell them. — Jim H
12. I tell them I have aphasia, so please face me and have patience. — Bruce L
13. Speak simply, straightforwardly, and logically, but you don’t need to talk down. — James G
14. Talk in a normal voice. — Bill B
15. Talk slowly, pleaseeeeeeee. — Kitti T
We will have more advice from other people with aphasia next week.
Watch Our Communication Tips Video
We believe we can teach people aphasia-friendly communication if we work together. It starts with a simple video:
Please share it with your friends and family, and then take it to your community. Conversations will become aphasia-friendly when cashiers, bus drivers, hotel staff, first responders, teachers, or doctors learn these tips and put them into practice.
Just copy this message:
June is Aphasia Awareness Month. Aphasia-friendly communication is just good communication for everyone. Let’s #TalkAboutAphasia and make the world a more understanding place: https://bit.ly/talkaboutaphasia2023
Thank you for helping make the world a more aphasia-friendly place.