What is Anomic Aphasia?
Many people have never heard of anomic aphasia, and yet 180,000 people acquire aphasia each year. When that many people suffering, we really should be talking about it more often. Our goal today is to help you understand it and how it can be helped.
What is it?
Aphasia, itself, is a communication disorder in which a person’s ability to process language is impaired but does not directly affect their intelligence. It’s often acquired because of a stroke, head trauma, head injury, or any other neurological issue. Anomic aphasia is considered a milder form of aphasia and is applied when a person cannot supply the appropriate words for the thing that they wish to speak about. Most often it’s a noun or verb that they seem to struggle with the most. Their grammar is correct, and speech is fluent, they just use vague words or vague descriptions of the word they are trying to say. It is often described as having that feeling of “a word on the tip of the tongue.” Often, they can still repeat words if they are spoken to them. They can’t use it in the speech properly. Another telling sign is that it’s equally difficult to come up with the word when writing down their thoughts.
It’s important to remind you that this is an acquired disorder. Many of us feel this way when we speak at times, but this is increased and persistent to specific words for the patient and causes incredible stress after a stroke or serious accident.
How Can It Be Helped?
Teaching family members some communication tips is an immense help for the patient, the family, and the speech pathologist. With everyone on board, progress can be made very quickly and with a sense of ease. A few things for the family to remember:
- Make sure there are no distractions (radio, television, etc.)
- Speak calmly and slowly
- Use age appropriate words
- Do not finish their sentences
- Give the patient plenty of time to speak as they are able
- Use sign language, written word, and drawings if necessary
Speech pathologists can use naming therapy as a way to help the patient work back to using the words that they have lost in their trauma. Encouraging the use of face to face therapies in conjunction with the technological therapies (phone and tablet apps) can help improve the situation. Allowing a patient to work at home and on their own with an electronic therapy empowers them to take control when they feel the most out of control.
While anomic aphasia tends to be the “older” generations’ issue, seen in more stroke victims than elsewhere, it’s important to understand that this can happen at any age and to any gendered person. Making treatment appropriate for the age of the person is tantamount for success!