Solutions for Coping with Impaired Speech


Laura Ramos Hegwer

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If a loved one has a speech impairment, choosing the right solutions to help him or her communicate can seem daunting. Your treatment team can help you make decisions, including which options are best for your loved one’s situation.

The team may suggest learning and using compensatory strategies and tools to help your family communicate. During rehabilitation, your family will probably use more than one of these strategies. Often, this leads to the richest communication all-around.


Compensatory Strategy

A loved one can’t tell you that he or she is hungry

You and your loved one substitute another skill that he or she already knows for speaking, such as writing in a spiral notebook.

Your loved one has severe speech limitations

Your family learns to communicate using aids, such as:

• A communication board with words or pictures for “bathroom” or “water”

• A simple electronic device with recorded voice messages, such as a talking photo album

• A high-tech speech generating device or computer software to talk with family members

• Simple hand gestures

Your loved one wants to stay involved in social groups

Your loved one stays engaged, but moves from being a leader to being a participant. Your family starts making scrapbooks or remnant books to use in social groups so you have common topics and language in front of you.

Family members get frustrated during communication

Speech pathologists teach relatives to accept all communication attempts and support new methods of communication.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 15, 2017

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Medical References

  1. Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  2. Bahr E. Light Technology Augmentative Communication for Acute Care and Rehab Settings. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation. 15(4): 384-90. 
  3. Huntington's Disease. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  4. Hustad KC, et al. Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Preschool Children: Intervention Goals and Use of Technology. Seminars in Speech and Language. 29(2): 83-91.
  5. Uliano D, et al. Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Adolescents with Severe Intellectual Disability. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine. 46(2):147-52.
  6. Weissling K and Prentice C. The Timing of Remediation and Compensation Rehabilitation Programs for Individuals with Acquired Brain Injuries: Opening the Conversation. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 19:87-96.

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