“…once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
This quote from the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has everything to do with surviving life’s trials and certainly strokes. I think about this a lot as I interview successful stroke survivors.
I found these online and thought they were good basic tips for communicating with people with aphasia. I’ve been interviewing aphasic people, their caregivers and therapists and reading a lot of research. One comment I hear often is that we tend to talk down to people with aphasia or forget to include them in a group discussion.
Aphasia is a big subject in my book so I’d appreciate any comments or direction you might have for me in the comments. Thanks — Maureen
Make sure you have the person’s attention before communicating.
During conversation, minimize or eliminate background noise (such as television, radio, and other people) as much as possible.
Keep communication simple but at an adult level. Simplify your own sentence structure and reduce your own rate of speech. You don’t need to speak louder than normal but do emphasize key words. Don’t talk down to the person with aphasia.
Encourage and use other modes of communication (writing, drawing, yes/no responses, choices, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions) in addition to speech.
Give the person time to talk and let them have a reasonable amount of time to respond.
Avoid speaking for the person with aphasia except when necessary and ask permission before doing so.
Praise all attempts to speak; make speaking a pleasant experience and provide stimulating conversation. Downplay errors and avoid frequent criticisms/corrections. Avoid insisting that each word be produced perfectly.
Augment speech with gesture and visual aids whenever possible. Repeat a statement when necessary.
Encourage them to be as independent as possible. Avoid being overprotective.
Whenever possible continue normal activities (such as dinner with family, company, going out). Do not shield people with aphasia from family or friends or ignore them in a group conversation. Rather, try to involve them in family decision-making as much as possible.
Keep them informed of events but avoid burdening them with day to day details.
Hi, I’m a journalist writing a book on surviving stroke. I’ve been researching and writing for over a year and have a way to go, as I have to make my living while working on the book. Also titled Successfully Surviving Stroke, the book (and the blog) are written for people who’ve had strokes, their families, caregivers, friends and communities. Though neither are intended for doctors, nurses or therapists they both owe a great deal to the professionals’ collective expertise and wisdom.
The blog is a way to keep in touch with all the people I’ve interviewed and others who are interested in my progress and what I’m learning about stroke, especially what makes for successful survival. I intend to write regular entries and hope you check back often to read, make comments and ask questions. Welcome and thanks — Maureen