Aphasia hacks. They’re the little things you do to navigate the world with aphasia or help someone else navigate the world with aphasia. They’re the tricks that you have up your sleeve to communicate. The things that make a hard situation a little easier. We’ve compiled a few of our favourites below, but we want YOU to share your favourite aphasia hacks, too.
Carry a Card
Some people carry a card explaining they have aphasia, but it’s equally helpful to carry a card with the most commonly-needed phrases for while you’re out and about. Think about things you’ll want to communicate while you’re at home with all the time in the world, such as instructions for a hairdresser or what you want to order at a restaurant, and write it down. Bring the card with you in case the words don’t come while you’re in the moment.
Draw a Picture
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and an image can certainly help you convey an idea when you’re struggling with words. Give this communication tool a bit of artistic flair by using a sketch pad and a special marker. Carry it with you and you’ll always paper at the ready.
Joan Pfeiffer wrote on Facebook that “one of my favorite sayings when people realize my speech sounds foreign and asks where I am from is: ‘I am from Aphasia and I speak Aphasian’.” Using a joke not only explains a difficult situation while making the other person feel at ease, but it generally makes the conversation flow better once everyone understands.
Write it Down
Lauren Marks writes down every word she suddenly remembers, keeping a journal of reclaimed words. She writes on page 31 of her memoir, A Stitch of Time, “In my journals, a discovered word was a sacrement — a thing I could write. And if I could write the thing, I could read it. And if I could read the thing, I could often say it.”
This process brings her back to the old words she used to know, one at a tme.
Circumlocution is saying all the words around the unknown word. For instance, if you can’t remember the word for the object, you may describe it using all the words you do know in connection to the missing word: fruit, food, eat, red, juicy, sweet… APPLE! Even when you don’t remember the missing word, the other person can help supply it because they figure it out from all of the great clues you give based on everything you know about the object.
Now it’s your turn: What are your best aphasia hacks that you either learned in speech therapy, from another person, or came up with on your own?