Time to read: 3 min

If you treat people with aphasia, care for someone with it, or are living with aphasia, you know how challenging it can be to get even one word out. Often the word feels like it’s on the tip of the tongue, desperately straining to get out. We understand the struggle. 

Aphasia is one of the most common conditions caused by stroke (and other brain injury) but few outside the clinical world know what it is. Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. It does not impact intelligence. Fortunately, the brain’s plasticity allows it to form new connections and rebuild speech, language, reading, writing and comprehension skills that are impaired or lost due to brain injury or stroke. Aphasia rehabilitation involves working directly with a clinician on specialized tasks designed to help relearn those skills.

Suggestions for how to use the posters for aphasia therapy

To that end, we worked with an illustrator to visualize the grit it takes to get the right word out when it’s stuck on the tip of the tongue, and created these imaginative “Tip if the Tongue” posters that can serve as a training tool to help people with aphasia practice any number of skills. We also created the accompanying worksheet, below, with suggestions for specific ways to use the posters as part of aphasia therapy, with cognitive and speech therapy clients.

To practice expression (speaking or writing)

  1. Name the pictures on the poster
  2. Generative naming of other words that start with this letter
  3. Name the category that each word belongs in
  4. Name the semantic features that are related to the pictures on the poster
  5. Identify phonological components of the words based on the pictures on the poster
  6. Make a story using the words in the picture

To practice comprehension

  1. Point to the picture that matches the word you hear or read
  2. Find the word that fits in the category

To practice attention

  1. Visual scanning tasks such as locate the picture furthest to the left/right, or cancellation tasks such as cross out all the pictures that are articles of clothing, or alternating attention tasks.

To practice memory

  1. Study the picture for 1 minute. I will take the picture away and I want you to tell me all the words you remember from the picture.
  2. Do the same as above but with a delayed memory component (after a 5 minute delay, tell me the pictures again).
  3. Memory strategy practice: what memory strategies would you use to remember the words on this picture?

To practice word retrieval

  1. Picture Feature Identification – e.g. “Find an object that is made of wood”
  2. Picture Category ID – e.g. “Find an object that is a type of transportation”
  3. Picture Sound ID – e.g. “Find an object that has the sound /s/ or /tr/ in it”
  4. Picture Syllable ID – e.g “Find a word that has two syllables”
  5. Picture Rhyming – e.g. “Find an object that rhymes with…sled”

>> Download the “Tip of the Tongue” posters (and see if see if you can figure out all the words starting with “sh” and “tr” that are fighting to get off the tip of the tongue!)

Want to learn more? Check out these aphasia resources

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