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Address: PO Box 557, Paddington NSW 2021
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What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language. Aphasia causes problems with any or all of the following: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Some people with aphasia have trouble using words and sentences (expressive aphasia). Some have problems understanding others (receptive aphasia). Others with aphasia struggle with both using words and understanding (global aphasia).

Aphasia can cause problems with spoken language (talking and understanding) and written language (reading and writing). Typically, reading and writing are more impaired than talking or understanding.

Aphasia may be mild or severe. The severity of communication difficulties depends on the amount and location of the damage to the brain.


Characteristics of Expressive Aphasia

  • Speaks only in single words (e.g., names of objects)
  • Speaks in short, fragmented phrases
  • Omits smaller words like "the," "of," and "and" (so message sounds like a telegram)
  • Puts words in wrong order
  • Switches sounds and/or words (e.g., bed is called table or dishwasher a "wish dasher")
  • Makes up words (e.g., jargon)
  • Strings together nonsense words and real words fluently but makes no sense

Characteristics of Receptive Aphasia

  • Requires extra time to understand spoken messages (e.g., like translating a foreign language)
  • Finds if very hard to follow fast speech (e.g., radio or television news)
  • Misinterprets subtleties of language-takes the literal meaning of figurative speech (e.g., "it's raining cats and dogs")
  • Is frustrating for the person with aphasia and for the listener—can lead to communication breakdown

Very often, a person with aphasia has both expressive and receptive difficulties to varying degrees.