The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) defines cognitive-communication disorders as difficulty with any aspect of communication that is affected by disruption of cognition. Some examples of cognitive processes include attention, memory, organization, problem-solving/reasoning, and executive functions.
Cognitive-Linguistic therapy is necessary for a patient with communication difficulty secondary to impaired cognition or an altered cognitive state. This therapy promotes appropriate attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. This therapy is individualized based on a patient’s specific needs.
What can I do to help a person with cognitive communication difficulties?
A person with a cognitive-communication difficulty needs support and encouragement with their communication. Different techniques will help different people but friends and family can try:
- Minimising distractions. Remove background noise – a television or radio can be very distracting
- Ensuring you talk directly to the person and not talk over them. Try to sit at the same level as the person, and make eye contact
- Establishing a consistent routine and environment where possible
- Gaining the person’s attention before speaking to them
- Talking about familiar topics
- Encouraging the person to communicate
- Explaining what is happening as it happens e.g. “your brother has come to visit”
- Only asking one question at a time
- Don’t change the topic of conversation suddenly – it’s much easier to talk about one topic at a time. Gently remind the person of the topic if they appear to have changed topic unexpectedly
- Taking a break if the conversation is “going round in circles”
- Keeping written reminders of important information e.g. writing key names and dates in a diary
- Use a reassuring, calm and friendly tone of voice at all times
- Use simpler language, as this can be easier to understand
- Repeat key words or phrases to help the person to understand more
- Allow enough time for the person to respond
- Using questions which require a yes/no response can be easier to answer for people with communication difficulties
- Facilitating choice making by giving forced alternatives (e.g. would you like tea or coffee?)
- Use visual references where possible – for example show a cup when asking whether the person requires a drink
- Use gesture to help the person to understand
- Do not expect perfect sentences / vocabulary from the person – it is enough that you have understood what they have said
- Give feedback and confirm that you have understood
- Activities like looking at photos and magazines or playing simple games are often a nice idea, and do not require any real understanding of conversation to be enjoyed.
Speech therapy at Joint Effort Physical Therapy can help
Here at Joint Effort Physical Therapy, our experienced speech therapists are skilled in many different areas regarding communication disorders. If you’re struggling with a communication disorder, a highly trained Joint Effort Physical Therapy speech therapist can create a customized program specific to your needs.
Do you believe you or a loved one has a communication disorder that needs immediate attention? Rest assured, you’re in good hands in our clinic. Contact Joint Effort Physical Therapy today to schedule your appointment in Colorado Springs, CO.