What is Aphasia (or Dysphasia)

Aphasia is an acquired language difficulty that affects a person's ability to understand and/or use words, sentences and conversation. Aphasia is a complex condition and it affects people in very different ways. Aphasia can be different for everyone.

Aphasia can result in very mild to very severe communication difficulties, and it does not affect a person’s intelligence.

Learn more about aphasia below:

Signs of Aphasia

Aphasia can lead to a number of different communication problems. For example, a person with Aphasia (PWA) may have difficulty;

Talking/Speaking (Expressive Language)

  • Finding the correct word for what they want to say
  • Saying the wrong word, or using non-real “made-up” words
  • Switching around the sounds in words, for example; “sar” instead of “bar”
  • Forming complete sentences, and putting sentences together in conversation
  • Describing situations, giving information and telling stories

Understanding/ Comprehending (Receptive Language)

  • Understanding the words and sentences that others are saying 
  • Following verbal instructions
  • Processing and recalling verbal information

Reading/ Writing/ Numbers

  • Reading words, sentences, signs, books, texts, emails etc
  • Writing, spelling and putting words together to form sentences
  • Using and understanding numbers and completing calculations
  • Dealing with money, managing finances
  • Telling time, using calendars etc.


Watch the video below about the aphasia café 

Recent research on living well with Aphasia in Ireland by Dr. Molly Manning

Read more

IASLT Communication Card for people with Aphasia


What Causes Aphasia?

Aphasia is caused by damage to the language centres of the brain, usually on the left side. This damage is most often caused by;  

  • A stroke
  • A head injury
  • Inflammation of the brain
  • A brain tumour
  • Another neurological illness

Diagnosis and Treatment of Aphasia

Aphasia is diagnosed by a team of medical professionals, including a speech and language therapist (SLT), who plays an important role in assessing and treating the disorder. Ideally, SLT assessment and treatment would begin as early as possible, and would involve collaboration with family members and carers.

  • Screening people who present with possible aphasia, and determining those who need further language assessment and/or referral for other services.
  • Comprehensive assessment of receptive, expressive and functional language skills, along with other areas of communication including speech and voice.
  • Personalised goal-setting in the context of the PWA, their family and other multidisciplinary team members.
  • Impairment-focused rehabilitation of a person's language difficulties, when appropriate, with the aim to improve and restore lost function, leading to increased communication effectiveness, social integration and overall quality of life.
  • Communication-based therapy focused on using the PWA’s strengths to compensate for their loss of language function, with the aim to increase communication effectiveness, social integration, and overall quality of life. Some people with severe aphasia may not be able to effectively communicate verbally and may need the assistance of alternative and augmentative communication methods.
  • Educating and supporting others, including family members, carers and other healthcare professionals, to facilitate effective communication with the PWA across a wide range of social contexts and environments. . 
  • Providing support and advice to PWA and their care-givers, and directing them toward available support groups, resources, and other professional services when appropriate.
  • Facilitating PWA in decision-making and in assessments of capacity, supporting and enabling them to make important decisions relating to different aspects of their own care, including advanced care planning decisions.

Tips for communication & Aphasia: What helps?

Read more