Multimodal communication is key to working with people with aphasia because it allows the person to use any means to communicate including verbal output, writing, gesturing, pictures/drawing or a combination of these.


There are many strategies within the verbal domain including describing and scripting to obtain the target response.  In the above therapy session, the client was being prompted to categorize functional items both concrete (appliances, food) and abstract (emotions) using a combination of visual and verbal cuing strategies.  Using contextual information and ‘wh’ questions like “what do you do with it?” Or “where does it go?” can help identify features and context to help retrieve the word the client is looking for.

This clip begins with the clinician asking the client to categorize the commonality of function between three items of things that you wear on your head. The clinician asked ‘wh’ questions and gesturing to get to the target response. This semantic categorization helps reorganize the brain to help word retrieval.

The clip ends with the client identifying the commonality of more abstract items of emotions.  When asked the category she said, “ I can’t say it”. The clinician prompted the client with other modalities to try to obtain the word including a letter board, however this was unsuccessful. The clinician then gave a cloze sentence to fill in to initiate retrieval, which was successful. Clients with any aphasia can benefit from repetition and rephrasing of presented material.


Allison Koslowski,
New York Medical College – School of Helath Sciences
and Practice and Institute of Public Health