Over more than two years, the Speechless team has filmed many aphasia therapy sessions. Today, we release a new section of this blog where we will share meaningful moments of these therapies, explained by professionals to help us understand a bit more about aphasia and its consequences.

Contextualizing conversation (i.e., making it concrete) is critical when working with individuals with aphasia, for whom the processing of abstract information can be very challenging. In this therapy session, the clinician starts by describing features of the target event (i.e., Christmas). That is, she provides temporal information (e.g., December, a holiday that is approaching) in order to define the concept for that session.  By asking participants to think of the selected theme through the provision of clues, individuals with aphasia work on elaborating inferences, promoting inductive thinking.

At the beginning of this clip, a patient is trying to produce the word Christmas, and is instructed to repeat his approximations in order to stimulate his oral productions. A tactile cue is provided (i.e., a hand gesture touching the patient’s neck) to signal the place of articulation for the initial sound in Christmas. Providing multimodal cues (i.e., visual, verbal, tactile) to speakers with aphasia facilitates their word production and can serve to help them remember how a particular word is generated.

This clip ends with a different participant responding to the clinician’s question: When do people celebrate Christmas? The participant experiences difficulty retrieving the target word, 25, and initiates counting up to number 20. At that point, he self-corrects and uses his hand to convey number five, hence effectively communicating his desired response (25) through gestures.  Using automatic sequences, such as counting, is a strategy that this participant uses independently for successful communication and that is widely used for the treatment of aphasia.


Gemma Moya-Gale, M.A., M.S., CCC-SLP