What Are Your Aphasia Challenges?

Our last online chat was about the unique aspects of the participant’s aphasia, but it quickly became a commiserating session. Many of the problems experienced by one person ended up being experienced by others, too. In the same vein, sometimes participants shared solutions because what worked for one person may work for another. These were just a few of the challenges discussed.

Mixed Up Pronouns

One participant stated: “I usually get my pronoun mixed up when I speak. I used to blame it on my mother tongue, Malay, which does not use pronouns. But I met a handful of aphasics who are monolingual and only speak English who have the same problem. I’m interested to hear if anybody else has the same problem. My grammar could be better, too.”

Darlene, President of the NAA and a speech-language pathologist, explained a truism in speech therapy: “Little word, big problem.” Meaning, tiny, everyday words can sometimes be harder to say than unusual words. She called these words the “frosting on the cake,” though pointed out that it’s very hard to frost a cake.

76% of other people on the call also had trouble with pronouns. 4% said they sometimes had trouble, and 20% said they never had trouble.

Trouble With Numbers

Numbers are also affected by aphasia. One participant said, “I can only remember 3 to 4 numbers, so I have to write them down. I can write 3, maybe 4, then need to be told the next group of numbers. So don’t say a phone number without having to replay it multiple times.”

Many others nodded in agreement. 77% of participants also had trouble remembering or saying numbers. 10% said this was sometimes a problem, and 13% said this was never a problem. When the speaker goes slowly and pauses every few numbers so the brain can catch up, it helps to get numbers down on the first try.

Apraxia and Aphasia

Multiple people on the call experienced both aphasia and apraxia. Apraxia affects how the mouth forms words. The person may know what they want to say but have trouble moving their lips and tongue into the correct position to form the sound.

Doreen, a fellow participant on the call, gave a suggestion she used to work through her apraxia. She practiced speech in front of a mirror, watching her mouth forming the words. It wasn’t a one-time exercise but something she did regularly, even carrying a tiny mirror in her purse to use when she was out of the house and needed to watch her lips to remember how to form the words.

What are your aphasia challenges?



  • heather
    October 14, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    I know what I want to say, but at times, certain words escape me. Folks like to supply me with the word I am looking for. (Bless their hearts, but
    as a person with a brain stem injury, I NEED to find my own words…even if it is a struggle at time.

  • Al Gray
    October 14, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    My wife experiences anxiety to the degree that she claims that “someone,” who she describes as an S.O.B. (and doesn’t use the initials), comes into our home and into her bedroom where “he” rearranges things, rips up paperwork, and hides things so she cannot find them. She has frequently demonstrated panic at the thought of someone entering our home, despite my assurances that all doors are locked and alarmed, and the windows alarmed also.

    She takes me to her closet and claims none of the clothing hung there belongs to her and must have been left by the intruder.

    She is unable to use the TV Remote, despite me providing a ‘working aid’ which describes what the major buttons do (Volume, channel changes, mute).

    She now is fixed on throwing things away. I’ve thus far recovered an Apple notebook computer, a TV Remote device, jewelry, unused prescription medicine, silverware (knife and fork), women’s creams, shading rouge, powder, lotions, etc., much of which was purchased for her by her request over the pasts several months.

    She moves things from her bedroom both into a spare bedroom (and later claims the clothes which appear in that room are not hers), my bedroom, and the basement. None of the items moved is hung on hangers or placed in boxes or on shelves, merely laid to rest wherever is handy.

    She is fixed on TV Talk Shows, and usually watches MSNBC incessantly, and very often shouts at things said by the guests or those narrating the event.

    Her memory, and the accompanying denials are routine. Today she denied she and I ever were married. She has no understanding of her financial situation, fearing that “someone” is “taking her money,” despite my assurance (with her Monthly Credit Union statements), her funds are quite safe.

    She has bouts of anger, manifested by shouting, throwing objects, slamming doors, etc.

    I’m still attempting to find the lemonade since Life seems to continue to give me lemons.

  • Rick Rasmussen
    October 14, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Keep up the good work. My question is how does aphasia affect driving ability?

  • Megan Sutton
    October 15, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve had many clients tell me how hard numbers are for them. That’s why I created an affordable therapy app that helps people with aphasia work on understanding, saying, and writing numbers of all kinds (single digits up through phone numbers and fractions). It’s an app called Number Therapy and it work on all iOS and Android devices. I hope it can help more people master the important words that we call numbers and use everyday in our lives. There’s a free trial version to give a sample of the full app.

  • Martina Keeler
    October 16, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Very challenged by technology and social media. My son has Global Aphasia and lives a very isolated life. He has used his cell phone with his Speech Therapists assistance to help him communicate with speech aps ..he understands the existence of the connection to others via electronic devices and social media. However, it is so frustrating for him when he can’t comprehend the pop-up error or update messages, the internet, the wi-fi, how people post pictures, words, and videos. For me or anyone to try to explain/teach is difficult, as he can’t possibly understand all the details of what we’re saying or illustrating. Without knowledge of usage of these devices he’s left feeling he’s missing out on something so common to the rest of the population that it causes him to feel even more isolated. It seems that there is a void for aphasia victims, and even the elderly, and probably other technically challenged folks, especially during a pandemic…where the only communication with friends and loved ones is through our devices. I hope the void opens up new opportunities for speech therapy professionals and Independent Living Skills professionals to work technical device challenges into helping those affected with these challenges.

  • Patricia Humphrey
    October 17, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Grammar and spelling are problems for me. On Facebook with old school friends who have no idea what I have been thru. When I reread some of my postings I just seem stupid. Keep a list of spelling works to work on. Sometimes, so wrong spell check does not work. Got an old, old pocket dictionary from a friend. Usually successful using the dictionary – a list of words to actually look at.
    Facial recognization – can never attach names to faces. Each time I see someone, it is like I am seeing them for the first time.
    Getting lost. The funny one is getting lost in the grocery store I go to all the time. I kinda head toward a wall and then circle around till I recognize the aisle I am looking for.

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