What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder.  While most often resulting from stroke, it can occur following any type of damage to the areas of the brain that control language.  This may include brain tumors, traumatic brain injury or progressive neurological disorders.  Aphasia may impact an individual’s speaking, listening, reading and writing, but does not affect intelligence.  Individuals with aphasia may also have co-existing impairments, such as apraxia or dysarthria.

A person with aphasia may experience one or more of the following problems:

  • Difficulty producing language: coming up with words they want to say, substituting intended word with another word, switching sounds within words, using made-up words, difficulty connecting words to form sentences, using words in sentences that do not make sense.
  • Difficulty understanding language: misunderstanding what others’ say especially if spoken fast or in long sentences, difficulty following speech in noise or group settings, misinterpreting jokes or taking literal meaning of figurative speech.
  • Difficulty reading and writing: may have trouble reading written materials (e.g., forms, pamphlets, books, etc.), difficulty with spelling and putting words together in sentences, difficulty understanding number concepts (e.g., telling time, counting money, etc.).


Assessment of aphasia may include a variety of formal or informal tests to determine the type and severity of aphasia.  It will also include a client and family/caregiver interview to identify the individual goals of the client and family/caregiver.  The assessment provides information on the individual’s strengths and areas that would benefit from treatment.  An essential objective is to keep the individual in the game of life.


There are many types of treatments for aphasia. If treatment is recommended, the purpose is to address specific language skills and to provide strategies to support overall communication in a variety of settings and situations. The focus is on enhancing quality of life and helping clients and families/caregivers to have the most effective communication. Treatment may be offered in individual or group sessions. 

Associated Faculty

Jacqueline Daniels, MA, CCC-SLP - Lecturer and Supervisor; Neuro Unit Coordinator
Leslie Kot, MS, CCC-SLP - Lecturer and Supervisor
Mike Burns, PhD, CCC-SLP - Senior Lecturer and Supervisor; Researcher
Kelsey Leighton, MS, CCC-SLP - Lecturer and Supervisor
Shaye Kawashima, MS, CCC-SLP - Lecturer and Supervisor
Diane Kendall, PhD, CCC-SLP - Professor; Researcher

Additional Resources

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

National Aphasia Association

American Stroke Association