Working with Acquired Communication Disorders in Adults


Neuropathologies or brain trauma often result in language deficits. Some characteristics you may observe in your loved one may include: improper use of words and their meanings, the inability to express ideas, inappropriate grammatical patterns, reduced vocabulary, and the inability to follow directions. A person’s cognition may also be impacted, which may cause difficulty with everyday thinking and executive functioning (e.g., sequencing typical daily routines). Although symptoms can vary, changes in awareness, perception, reasoning, memory and judgment are often observed. 

Acquired neurogenic communication disorders can be attributed to:

Acute injury (Traumatic Brain Injury, stroke, concussion); Neurological disorders (Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis); or Normal aging 

Resulting disorders may include

Aphasia: Impairment in one’s ability to produce and comprehend spoken language, as well as in one’s capacity to read and writ
Motor Speech Disorder: Difficulty planning and coordinating motor movements for speech production, secondary to muscle weakness, paralysis, or incoordination (i.e., Apraxia or Dysarthria
Dysphagia: Swallowing disorder which can include impairment in the oral, pharyngeal, and/or esophageal phases of swallowing 
Cognitive-communication disorder: Deficits in verbal and non-verbal cognitive processes, including attention, memory, organization, problem-solving, executive functioning, and pragmatics.


Following a consultation with Josephine K. Chen, M.S., CCC-SLP, assessment procedures are chosen based on an individual’s age and the nature of their disorder. Assessments may include clinical observations, as well as standardized and non-standardized evaluation tools. The results of the evaluation are shared and discussed with the patient and their caregiver, if applicable, as well as their referring physician. The therapist and patient then collaborate to develop an individualized Plan of Care outlining the course of treatment.  


After the speech/language/cognitive evaluation is completed, a patient-centered plan of care is created. 

Typically, therapeutic goals may include

-Improving cognitive skills necessary to fully participate in activities of daily living (ADL), including: memory, sequencing, executive functioning, and following directions 
-Improving language skills in the areas of vocabulary, word-finding, word meaning (semantics), and social skills (pragmatics) 
-Improving planning, coordination, and sequencing of articulatory movement for speech sound production 
-Training and use of Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) as needed 
-Training family members and caregivers in communication strategies