Communication disorders can be extremely socially isolating, as our socialization across cultures revolves around language. When language is affected, whether from birth or later in life, social contact and relationships can be affected. But just because someone has a communication disorder does not mean that they are any less deserving of, or capable of making social connections.
Here’s what people with communication disorders want YOU to know to make communicating easier!
- I am still smart. [Intellect and communication are not the same. There are of course some disorders and diseases that affect both intellect and communication, but your assumption going into a conversation with someone with a communication disorder should be that their intellect is PRESERVED. If you take one thing home from this blog, please take this tip home!!]
- Be patient with me! I need time to think to make sure that I get my point across.
- Be honest with me. If you don’t understand me, ask for clarification! I deserve the opportunity to be able to get my point across.
- Slow down! Language is complicated, and sometimes I need an extra few seconds to process in order to make sense of what you’re saying.
- Ask me if it would help to repeat or rephrase your message. But don’t assume that’s what I need! Often we know exactly what we need from you in order to better understand. By offering to repeat or rephrase, you are opening the door for us to ask you to modify your communication style to better help us understand, in whatever way we need.
- Make sure I can see your facial expressions and gestures. Theses are key parts of language, but are not always affected by communication disorders. I can communicate a plethora of information just using a smile or a furrowed brow.
- Laugh, cry and sigh in front of me – communication is our way of sharing our feelings and emotions, and can be extraordinarily therapeutic! Don’t be afraid to show emotion around me!
- Let me know that you care about me and value my input, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes we don’t even need language to do that – sometimes just the experience of connecting can provide that social connection that we all so crave.
Jordyn Sims, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech pathologist, working in the Baltimore area. She graduated from Boston University, where she worked with Dr. Swathi Kiran in the Aphasia Research Lab. Her research focuses on MRI data of persons with aphasia, and how brains change and adapt after a stroke. She blogs about all things speechie for Constant Therapy in her free time (yep, she’s a major SLP nerd).
Constant Therapy is a cognitive & speech therapy app that helps people with brain injury, stroke and aphasia work on key speech and cognitive skills – like memory, math, reading, writing, counting change, and more – needed to get back to an active life. Built and tested by a team of top neuroscientists and clinicians at Boston University, Constant Therapy has proven effective in multiple peer-reviewed, published research studies. Both clinicians and patients can download and use Constant Therapy.