In general, loved ones can feel helpless when trying to communicate with an aphasic family member. They ask themselves what they should do in order to help them communicate, while trying to avoid attitudes and situations that can hinder communication.
1 - Some precautions
It is important to stay natural in your mannerisms and the way you speak. The aphasic person should be treated as an adult, avoiding infantilization and overprotection.
Patience is also needed to allow them the time they need to find words, and taking the time to listen to what the person wants to say.
You should not try to minimize the difficulties that the aphasic person encounters, but rather answer questions frankly and talk openly about concerns while maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude.
When discussing problems with the person, you should be careful. While some people with aphasia understand very well, others understand only intermittently, which can lead to misinterpretation of what has been said.
The aphasic person must be encouraged to continue on with his interests and hobbies, and to participate in social activities, even if it means communicating with others. It should not be forgotten, however, that aphasics can get tired quickly and that meetings involving several individuals can be trying, especially the first few times after the injury occured.
2 - To facilitate communication
- Encourage any attempts at communication, even gestures.
- Pay attention to body language. It is very important to observe body language and facial expressions to better understand what the aphasic person is trying to communicate.
- When the aphasic person is unable to find a word, you can suggest one by taking the context into account it is important not to intervene until the person has tried to say the word he is looking for; do not suggest the word too early
- Choose appropriate conversation topics, such as current situations, personal interests, the news, ect.
- In cases of more severe aphasia, invite the person to verbally describe his current activities, or if they cannot, you can do it for them.
- It is okay if they speak with errors. The important thing is that his message is understandable. If necessary, help correct them, but be tactful
- Use short, simple sentences. If the aphasic person does not understand, then, formulate the sentence in a different way and speak more slowly without raising your voice.
- It is important to tell the aphasic person that they have not been understood despite their attempts to communicate. You can try to guess what he said by observing her body language, taking into account the context and asking "yes" or "no" questions. If this approach does not succeed, it is important to express our difficulty in understanding and to suggest continuing the conversation later.
3 – Non-interference with communication
- Do not attempt to correct everything or require perfection.
- Use short, simple sentences. If the aphasic person does not understand them, formulate the sentence differently and speak more slowly without raising your voice.
- Do not raise the voice unnecessarily. The aphasic person is not deaf.
- Do not give too much information at once or in the same sentence.
- Avoid changing the subject without warning.
- Do not take offense at the use of swearing.
- Do not speak in the place of the aphasic person, except in emergency situations.
- Do not interrupt without a good reason.
- Avoid communicating in noisy environments, like in crowds, or while listening to the radio, television, or loud music.
4 - Communicating with a digital tool
In most cases after a stroke, a close companion can understand many of the simple messages that the aphasic person wants to express without even communicating. However, the addition of a digital tool such as the Vocalyx application can enrich the variety and depth of messages which can be communicated.
- Even if the close companion can understand a message without the aphasic person needing to speak, everyone else who interacts with the aphasic cannot always do the same. The use of the synthesized voice in Vocalyx thus makes it possible to transmit messages to anyone, even people he has never communicated with before, including in contexts such as at the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, or in a restaurant. The aphasic person gains initiative and autonomy.
On the other hand, Vocalyx allows sending relevant messages remotely, composed in words or images that arrive in a text format. In other words, it is possible to send an email or text message composed of images chosen by the aphasic !
- In the case of misunderstanding, you can search in the communication keyboards for photos or phrases, depending on the relative's abilities, that fall within the context of your discussion and ask him if what he is trying to say is represented among the keys. Example: When asked "What's wrong? "The person can find the phrase "I want to get up" on a key, which he could not have composed himself.
- You can share a moment together by helping him customize his Vocalyx interface, and adding easily accessible messages about his preferences and interests, for example his favorite dessert, restaurant, or show. This helps give him a more joyful and reassuring living environment.
We suggest implementing these tips sensibly, depending on the type of aphasia the person has and their situation. It should be added that individual differences should be respected and aphasic people should not be compared with each other. Finally, the aphasic person must no longer be isolated, and his or her place in the community must be restored.