Treating Anomic Aphasia with Speech Therapy
Anomic aphasia presents as an inability to consistently produce the appropriate words for things a person wishes to talk about. This is particularly evident when the individual requires a noun or a verb. The disorder is known by several names, including amnesic aphasia, dysnomia, and nominal aphasia.
Typically, the patient will have fluent speech that is grammatically correct. However, their speech will be filled with vague words such as “thing” and a constant attempt to find the words which will accurately describe the word they want to use. Many people will describe this as feeling as though the word is on the tip of the tongue, a feeling most people occasionally experience. Individuals suffering from anomic aphasia feel this on a regular basis. These patients usually have no difficulty reading or understanding speech and are even able to accurately repeat sentences and words. The difficulty lies in finding words to express their own thoughts, whether verbally or in writing.
Simply put, speech therapy is assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for those who struggle with a wide variety of speech and communication disorders. Speech therapy is almost exclusively handled by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who can be found in a variety of settings from hospitals to schools. Like other forms of therapists, speech-language pathologists give their patients and students a variety of different exercises meant to correct a specific issue that was previously diagnosed. Throughout speech therapy, an SLP will monitor progress and make any necessary changes to their intervention.
As previously mentioned, SLPs can be found in a variety of settings and with the increased adoption of technology, speech therapy is now more accessible than ever. Schools and districts across the country are integrating speech teletherapy services into their special education programs, which is speech therapy conducted through online speech therapy by an SLP at an offsite location.
Speech Therapy for Anomic Aphasia
Early we discussed what Anomic Aphasia was and how it creates communication difficulties for those who struggle with this speech disorder. While there are several different methods of therapy for those with anomic aphasia, speech therapy is thought to be the most common and effective method. However, it is important to note that depending on the degree of the condition, someone with anomic aphasia may improve their communicating abilities but never fully regain their speech function.
Speech Therapy Activities & Exercises
The most promising treatments include increasing the ability to recall the words for nouns. This is done by repeatedly showing the patient an image of the object and offering praise when they recall the word. Alternatively, an image can be shown surrounded by words associated with it. Done regularly this has been shown to increase word retention, although once treatment ends patients tend to revert back to pre-intervention word retrieval levels.
Another exercise that speech pathologists can use to help with anomic aphasia is by naming a list of words and having the person tell you what the mean. A more complex version of this activity is describing an object and having the person name. For example, the object is something used to mow the grass, and the word is a lawnmower.
An SLP can name three or four nouns and have their student or patient try to describe how they are alive. For example, fish, cats, and dogs can all be house pets. As you can see, a majority of these activities revolve around nouns and the recognition of them.
Speech Therapy using Assistive Technology
With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, options for patients with anomic aphasia are rapidly increasing. There are numerous companies and individual apps specializing in making communication easier for patients with different forms of aphasia, including the Aphasia Company, Assistive Ware, and Tapgram.
Companies like VocoVision strictly use online videoconferencing technology to connect students with remote speech-language pathologists. This online technology uses interactive capabilities in conjunction with games, exercises, and other tools to further encourage student engagement. These teletherapy sessions can either occur during a student’s school day or even from the comforts of their own home.
How Long Does Speech Therapy for Anomic Aphasia Take?
Depending on the severity, there is no fixed amount of time it takes to recover from anomic aphasia. According to Aphasia.org, is aphasia symptoms last longer than two or three months, a full recovery is unlikely. However, this doesn’t mean someone can’t continue to improve for years, even decades. Often, regular speech therapy sessions are recommended for treatment. In addition to meeting with a speech therapist, someone who struggles with anomic aphasia will be encouraged to perform exercises on their own.
Getting Started with Speech Therapy for Anomic Aphasia
Before a patient or student receives any therapy for anomic aphasia they need to first be diagnosed. This typically occurs from a doctor and is done by a series of neurological tests or a series of questions. A speech-language pathologist is also experienced in identifying different types of aphasia. Once anomic aphasia is diagnosed, there are several different factors including the severity that determines a treatment and intervention plan.
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