Communication plays a vital role in our everyday lives. It’s how we state our needs, desires, and ideas; it’s how we connect to one another. However, for individuals with language disorders such as aphasia, communicating is often difficult. Affected individuals may have trouble speaking, understanding speech, as well as writing and reading. What are some resources for practicing speech and communication in a nonclinical setting?
First, let’s further discuss aphasia:
- Aphasia is a neurological condition caused by damage to the portions of the brain responsible for language.
- It does not affect intelligence.
- The type and severity of aphasia depends on the precise location and extent of the damaged brain tissue. It can range from mild, where a task like retrieving the names of objects is difficult—to severe, where any type of communication is nearly impossible.
- Physicians, researchers and speech-language pathologists have categorized aphasia into six different types:
- Anomic Aphasia
- Broca’s Aphasia
- Mixed Nonfluent Aphasia
- Wernicke’s Aphasia
- Global Aphasia
- Primary Progressive Aphasia
- Click here to learn more on these different types of aphasia.
There are several resources available for individuals affected by aphasia or other language disorders to work on communication. For example, there are speech-generating devices from Lingraphica such as the AllTalk or TouchTalk. A good place to begin is discussing options with one’s neurologist or speech-language pathologist. He or she will be able to provide many helpful resources specific for each individual’s needs.
Another resource available from Lingraphica is the free SmallTalk Family of Communication apps available for iOS devices.
SmallTalk Communication Apps
SmallTalk Aphasia (Male and Female)
The SmallTalk Aphasia app can be downloaded as either a female or male voice, depending on the user’s preference. The app is specifically designed for individuals with aphasia and provides several pictures and videos talking in a natural human voice.
SmallTalk Dysphagia is designed for individuals with dysphagia, an impairment that makes swallowing foods and liquids difficult or impossible. SmallTalk Dysphagia includes 50 phrases covering eating equipment, meal assistance, diet, liquids, medications, and compensatory treatment techniques. It also features 4 video demonstrations of treatment techniques commonly used for swallowing.
SmallTalk Intensive Care is an app designed for anyone who is unable to speak or has trouble speaking. This app offers several pictures and phrases so these patients may communicate their needs and feelings to medical-care providers. According to the description on iTunes, “Research shows that patients who are able to effectively communicate their needs receive better care and have better outcomes.”
SmallTalk Daily Activities is an app that helps people who have difficulty communicating their daily needs to parents or caregivers. It features several words and phrases related to everyday activities such as bathing, brushing teeth, dressing, leisure and more.
The SmallTalk Pain Scale app is designed for individuals with aphasia, apraxia, or dysarthria. It was created to help these individuals communicate the intensity of their pain when applicable. It features descriptions and images from the Wong-Baker Faces Pain Scale.
The SmallTalk Conversational Phrases app features several common words and phrases used in conversations (e.g. greetings, responses, requests, and statements on wellbeing.) Some of these phrases are, “Hope you have a good day,” “Thank you,” and “Just a minute, I have something to say.” It helps provide these individuals with a means of communicating with friends, family, and other people they encounter when out and about.
SmallTalk Video Apps
The SmallTalk Phonemes app features several speech-exercise videos, each illustrating the lip and tongue movements required to produce each phoneme in the English language. Each exercise is conveniently by itself so users can focus on just the phonemes they want to practice.
The SmallTalk Common Phrases app provides a series of speech-exercise videos illustrating the tongue and lip movements required to state common phrases such as greetings, conversational phrases, and aphasia-oriented phrases (e.g. “I had a stroke.”)
The SmallTalk Days, Months, Dates app is a series of speech-exercise videos that illustrate necessary tongue and lip movements to produce days of the week, months of the year, and ordinal numbers from the 1st through 31st.
The SmallTalk Letters, Numbers, Colors app provides a series of speech-exercise videos, each illustrating the tongue and lip movements required to produce the 26 letters of the English alphabet, numbers 1-20, and primary colors.
The SmallTalk Consonant Blends app features many speech-exercise videos, each demonstrating the lip and tongue movements required to produce consonant blends where two or three consonants blend together (e.g. “br” or “str”).
The SmallTalk Oral Motor Exercises app is designed for individuals with weak tongue, mouth and lip muscles and/or poor coordination. It features many videos demonstrating cheek, tongue, palate, lip and jaw exercises to help strengthen the oral musculature.
Disclaimer: Prior to starting any new treatment, individuals should always seek the advice of physician or other healthcare provider on any questions or concerns regarding a specific medical condition.
To learn more on these apps, aphasia, and more click here.