job search with aphasia

Are You Looking for Work With a Job Search After Aphasia?

We were recently asked a common question that is difficult to answer: Which jobs are best for people experiencing aphasia? The person was unable to do their previous job and needed to find alternative employment.

This is a common problem for people experiencing aphasia, but this question is difficult to answer because of the individual nature of aphasia. Depending on the severity and type of aphasia, certain jobs may be more realistic than others. And then, like all job searches, talents, skill sets, and interests may vary. Employment decisions after aphasia are just as personal and varied as career advice without aphasia.

job search with aphasia

Image: Seth Werkheiser via Flickr via Creative Commons license

Still, we realized that many brains are better than a few, and pooling our collective knowledge and creativity may help to generate work ideas for others. So if you are currently working or can see a path forward toward a job in the future, weigh in with your words of advice.

Our starting points?

Examine Your Hobbies

Look at your hobbies and consider whether any of them can be turned into a job, For instance, you may knit as a hobby, but many yarn stores are looking for employees to help with one-on-one lessons or you may be able to get work doing custom knitting projects for people who have an idea for an item they want but lack the skills to make it.

Use Your Strengths

Take a skills assessment over the course of a week. There are dozens of things you do on a daily basis that would be beneficial for certain jobs. For instance, maybe you are extremely friendly and you excel at connecting with others. If that’s the case, look for a job in a service industry, such as being a salesperson. What if you discover that your favourite part of the day is a walk with your dog and that you love spending time with animals? Consider offering up your services as a pet sitter.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how your strengths translate into a job, sit down with a friend or family member and brainstorm together using your skills list. Sometimes putting more brains together working on the problem jump starts the creativity.

Spark Joy

Similar to taking a skills assessment, look at what makes you happy during your day. Maybe your best moments are when you’re helping another person, and you can get a job helping others with aphasia, using your unique experience to connect. Maybe your best moments are when you’re checking items off your to-do list. Other people could benefit from having you do that work as their personal assistant.

Yes, work is called work and not play, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do something you love.

Suggest Assistance

You may still be able to do your old position with a bit of assistance. Rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, add an extra person to help fill the gaps. Which means that you need to ask what accomodations can be made rather than assuming the answer is none. Some workplaces would rather add an assistant who can help with some tasks rather than replace a valued worker when they can still do portions of their original job. Remember, all of your intelligence and knowledge is still there; you’re just having trouble communicating it.

Look at Part Time Work

Fatigue may be an issue, and your therapy schedule may dictate how many hours you can dedicate to work. Start small and work your way up to more hours rather than trying to handle your old schedule. Look at ten hours as being better than no hours rather than focusing on the fact that you’re not yet at forty hours. Work is work, whether you’re doing it part time or full time.

Volunteer to Keep Skills Fresh (or Add New Ones!)

While you’re recovering, volunteer to keep using your skills. This will not only give you a focus for your day, but it will help with your resume down the road since you can list all volunteer work. Think about organizations that could benefit from a second set of hands, especially ones that could use your unique life experience and skill set.

Take Your Time

Your heart may be ready to work long before your body and mind are ready to jump aboard, too. Be kind to yourself so you can continue to heal. There are no extra points in life for diving back into work quickly, and doing so may actually keep you from getting better. So take your time and listen to your health professionals.

You know better than anyone that life changes. That how things look today is not how things will look tomorrow. If your goal is to return to meaningful work, either for financial reasons or to fill an emotional need, take it slowly and be open to possibilities.

We’d love to hear YOUR work stories. Do you have employment frustrations to vent? Suggestions for work? A job off the beaten path you think others should consider? Let us know in the comment section or on Facebook.



  • Kori Hodgson
    February 22, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I have an employment frustration to vent about my son. He had a stroke almost 12 years ago at age 13. He has been working full time (5 years) since he turned 18 as a custodian. He felt he had gained a lot of experience and decided to quit to gain more knowledge in other areas that he liked. He is very hard working, has aphasia and hemiplegia of the right side but still uses the right arm when he can. He recently also worked part time for the city cementary and parks department. He applied for a full time job at the city and I was told by a previous retired emplyoee that my son should have never quit his custodian job. This person said he was great with cleaning things but had difficulties with concrete work and tree trimming which he never refused to do. Needless to say he did not get the job again for the second time. Always saying that someone else fit better. Thanks for letting me vent. I know it is always hard to hear criticism about a child but having a stroke at such a young age is hard enough and then when he has to deal with working harder to get a job that he enjoys just doens’t seem right.

  • Anonymous
    February 22, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    From experience, I realized that the workplace (working for an employer) was no place to rehabilitate or relearn. They have no time or patience and they will use it against you when something goes wrong. It has not proved to be successful or promising. Instead for the first couple of years I did do some volunteer work. They are more lenient, more understanding and more accommodating. Most non profits are happy just having a body there. It is a great place to relearn, and explore what skills you do have that you can do well, and the ones that you need to work on. AFter volunteering, I decided to open up my own business. I started out very part-time. I gradually added more hours as I saw fit, and energy levels permitting. I won’t fire myself so there is a better chance at relearning to work. For the things I am unable to do I outsource those areas to someone else who can. At first it may take a bit of your profit but once you get a hang of it, you can grow more and a business has been established.

  • robin
    February 22, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    My young survivor is positive, willing, and loves to encourage others. But since aphasia makes communicating her good qualities difficult, I hope to find apprenticeship situations where I can work in tandem with her. I’m retired and have time flexibility and good job skills, so I could mentor her in a volunteer job she could grow into while gaining practical, productive experience. An employer would get two great volunteers; all we’d need would be the opportunity.

  • Anonymous
    September 18, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    It would be nice to see a list of organizations that are willing to hire or allow volunteering by a person afflicted by aphasia.

  • Stephanie Evans
    September 20, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I have been trying to volunteer at a Stroke Association in my area. I can’t find anyone to take me. I am a hard worker with a positive attitude. I just don’t understand why I can’t get a volunteer job at a stroke place. I am continually given excuses. I do have Anomic Aphasia. But I can talk. It is very frustrating.

  • Debbie
    September 20, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I’m going to reiterate it would be nice to see who would help in ga. I had my stroke 5 mos ago I’m 52 was in hospital for 2 mos due to stroke ,anurism,n 2 brain infections. Single mom 15 yr old went back to work 1 mo after coming home. Have had setbacks I deal with aphasia n dysarthris, physical therapy I wanna work but I’m finding it’s tedious at times would love to hv a job that will not look at me differently

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