Using Written Language when Oral Language Fails

November 22, 2010

Here is a link to an interesting article from the November 21, 2010 issue of Parade Magazine citing the work of a speech pathologist who has had success in using large print written language along with spoken language to communicate with Alzheimer’s patients who have lost the ability to understand oral language to a greater or lesser extent.

This is a great idea and may work well for many patients.  However, remember that the ability to understand written or oral language has to do with what parts of the brain are primarily affected by the disease process.  There are patients who can read but not write, write but not read, or neither read nor write but can spell.  My father-in-law could neither read nor write by the middle stages of the disease, but we discovered he could still spell things aloud when our then second grade daughter was practicing her spelling words.  When we would ask her to spell things, to our surprise he would spell them aloud.  This type of phenomenon is even more common among stroke patients.

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