The definition of aphasia is straightforward: Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand, produce, or read written or spoken words. While it’s straightforward, it isn’t easy to sum up aphasia in a quick sound bite before the questions start coming. So how do you explain aphasia to other people?

Predict the Questions

Start out by explaining aphasia as simply as possible to a loved one.

Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects my ability to read, speak, or write words.

Then have them ask you logical questions that may come next such as how is it caused or how is it treated? Start incorporating that information into your description. What you say will depend on your particular form of aphasia. In general, you can tell people:

Aphasia occurs after a head injury, stroke, or brain tumor. There is also a neurodegenerative disorder called primary progressive aphasia.

Or you can be specific and say, “My aphasia is caused by…” and then fill in the rest of the sentence.


Finally, you can tell them that speech therapy can improve word access in some types of aphasia, such as Broca’s or Wernicke’s, or it can help provide new communication techniques for people with PPA.

Accentuate the Positive

People unfamiliar with aphasia may try to make sense of the disorder by comparing it to things they do know. Because of that, you’ll want to add in that aphasia does not affect a person’s intellect.


Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects my ability to read, speak, or write words, though it doesn’t affect my intellect. The words are in my brain; they’re just hard to access. My aphasia is caused by _____________. I’m treating my aphasia with speech therapy.

Make a Card

We’ve also created an aphasia card that can be handed to people to explain aphasia when you’re having trouble communicating while you’re out-and-about. Right-click the image to save it and print a copy to carry with you.





Of course, we are happy when interested people come to our site to better understand aphasia. While your job isn’t aphasia teacher for the rest of the world, pointing people in the right direction for more information makes the world a better place for people with aphasia. So direct them to for more information so they can understand.


How do you explain aphasia to other people?