How to Treat Aphasia: 23 Expressive Language & Writing Tasks

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) defines aphasia as:

An acquired neurogenic language disorder resulting from an injury to the brain… Aphasia involves varying degrees of impairment in four primary areas:

  • Spoken language expression
  • Spoken language comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Reading comprehension

ASHA goes on to do a great overview of aphasia. In this article, we will give you 23 activities you can use to treat impairments in Language Expression & Writing.

What We’ll Cover

1. How to Cue (minimal to maximal cues)

2. Word Finding Tips for patients

3. 23 Expressive Writing & Language Treatment Activities you can use today!

How to Cue

The following is a hierarchy of how to cue during Expressive Language treatment. The cues are listed from minimal to maximal help.

FUNCTION. State what the target word is used for, what its purpose is.

RHYMING WORD. The word rhymes with_____.

WRITTEN CUES. Write the first letter and add as many dashes as there are remaining letters.

SPELL ALOUD.

SENTENCE COMPLETION. Ask the patient to fill in the blank.

MODEL. Provide the target word.

If the patient answers correctly (regardless of level of cueing). Reinforce the correct answer with positive feedback and elaborate the response.

If the patient answer incorrectly. If their language comprehension allows for it, discuss how the errors may be related to the correct
answer.

Word Finding Tips

DESCRIBE IT.
• Who would use it?
• What does it look like?
• Where do you find it?
• When would you use it?
• Why would you use it?
• How is it used?

SYNONYMS. Use a similar word.
• For example, say PIANO instead of ORGAN

OPPOSITE WORD. Use antonyms, or opposite words.
• For example, say NOT HOT instead of COLD

GROUP OR CATEGORY.
• Person, place or thing.
• Section of the store you’d find it in.

FIRST LETTER OR FIRST SOUND.

GESTURES. Point, act out, or play charades.

23 Expressive Language & Writing Treatment Activities

These activities are organized from simple to more complex.

1. Sing the Alphabet

Print, write, or otherwise have a large-print Alphabet available on one page. Cue your patient to “sing the ABCs” while pointing to each letter.

2. Automatic Phrases

Say each of the series aloud, pointing to each number or word as you go.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10.

10 20 30 40 50
60 70 80 90 100.

100 200 300 400 500
600 700 800 900 1,000.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

January, February, March, April, May,
June, July, August, September,
October, November, December.

3. Object Naming

Use physical objects in your environment for this activity. Substitute objects as needed. One by one, point to an object and ask the patient, “What is the name of this?”

  1. Chair
  2. Bag
  3. Remote
  4. Ceiling
  5. Walker
  6. Table
  7. Lamp
  8. Pencil
  9. Floor
  10. Water
  11. Window
  12. Book
  13. Papers
  14. Stairs
  15. Door

4. Sentence Completion

Ask the patient to complete the sentence. Either read the sentence aloud or have the patient read the sentence. They may say or write the answer, depending on your treatment goals.

  1. This room is either too hot or too …
  2. My pants are either too loose or too …
  3. You are either wrong or …
  4. He is either happy or …
  5. The answer can be true or …
  6. You can go either up or …
  7. Not everything is either black or …
  8. I can’t tell if it’s day or …
  9. The towel is either wet or …
  10. He bought a new set of tables and …
  11. Do you have any brothers or …
  12. It’s too bright in here, please turn off the …
  13. I grabbed the shampoo and washed my …
  14. Take out the kettle and boil some…
  15. She went to library to borrow a …

5. Naming from Description

Ask the patient to name what is being described. Either read the sentences aloud or have the patient read them. They may say or write the answer.

  1. This animal is black and white, is from Africa, and looks like a horse.
  2. These structures are found in Egypt, are the tombs of pharaohs, and are
    shaped like triangles.
  3. This place is an island in the Pacific Ocean known for ukuleles, hula skirts,
    and is a state in the United States.
  4. This goes over a small cut, sticks to your skin, and helps avoid infection.
  5. These are worn on your feet and are usually worn with shoes.
  6. This food is typically eaten for breakfast, comes from a chicken, and can
    be fried, scrambled, or boiled.
  7. This alcoholic drink is made from grapes, famously comes from Italy or
    France, and is sold in glass bottles.
  8. This job involves going to court and proving clients as guilty or innocent.
  9. This object is used to cut logs in half and has “teeth.”
  10. This vehicle has many seats, wings, and can fly.

6. Category Naming

Ask the patient to name what category each set of words belongs to. Either read the words aloud or have the patient read them. They may say or write the answer.

  1. Dog, cat, horse, pig
  2. Water, juice, milk, coffee
  3. Spring, summer, fall, winter
  4. Shirt, jeans, sweater, blouse
  5. Texas, Florida, Ohio, Kansas
  6. Hammer, screwdriver, saw, wrench
  7. Notepad, stapler, scissors, tape
  8. New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day, Halloween
  9. Table, sofa, chair, bed
  10. Milk, yogurt, cheese, creamer
  11. Pie, cake, ice cream, tart
  12. December, January, February, March
  13. Maple, cedar, oak, birch
  14. Red, blue, yellow, green
  15. Apple, pear, plum, banana

7. Category Members

Name at least 3 items that belong to each category. Or, name as many items from each category as you can in 1 minute.

ANIMALS.
• Farm animals
• Jungle animals
• Rodents
• Carnivores
• Herbivores

FOODS.
• Breakfast foods
• Meat
• Vegetables
• Fruits
• Salty foods

PLACES.
• Cities
• Countries
• Tourist attractions
• Bodies of water
• Ancient places

HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS.
• Kitchen objects
• Furniture
• Bedroom objects
• Bathroom objects
• Lawn and garden objects

PEOPLE’S NAMES.
• Men’s names
• Women’s names
• Last names
• Family member names
• Names that start with “S”

8. Rhyming Words

Fill in the blank with the word that is being described. All of the answers rhyme.

  1. Past tense of “spin”
  2. What Earth revolves around
  3. You put a hotdog in it
  4. 2,000 pounds equals one
  5. A religious woman
  6. Granddaughter’s brother
  7. Enjoyable and entertaining
  8. More than zero
  9. More than a jog
  10. Avoid or reject someone

9. Same Letter

Fill in the blank with the word that is being described. All of the words begin with the same letter.

  1. A feline pet
  2. Automobile with four wheels
  3. You drink out of one
  4. You sit on it by a table
  5. A large town
  6. A dessert topped with icing
  7. Similar to a sofa
  8. 100 years
  9. Given out on Halloween
  10. Replicate or imitate

10. Synonyms

Read each word. Think of a similar word, a word that has the same meaning.

  1. Begin
  2. Funny
  3. Beautiful
  4. Finish
  5. Small
  6. Hot
  7. Good
  8. Old
  9. Smart
  10. Difficult

11. Antonyms

Read each word. What is the opposite word? A word with the opposite meaning?

  1. Inside
  2. Freezing
  3. No
  4. Good
  5. Early
  6. Tired
  7. Going
  8. Positive
  9. Up
  10. Sweet

12. Needed Items

Name three things you need to…

  1. Make a cup of tea
  2. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  3. Fry an egg
  4. Cook pasta
  5. Make a salad
  6. Go on a camping trip
  7. Make a holiday dinner
  8. Plant a seed
  9. Change a tire
  10. Clean the bathroom

13. Complete the Series

What word comes next in each series?

  1. First, second, third, ______
  2. Penny, nickel, dime, ______
  3. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, ______
  4. Summer, Fall, Winter, ______
  5. Infant, toddler, child, ______
  6. A, B, C, ______
  7. Ten, eleven, twelve, _______
  8. Freshman, sophomore, junior, ______
  9. Red, orange, yellow, ______
  10. Mercury, Venus, Earth, ______

14. Naming Emotions

How would you feel in the following situations? What emotions would you feel?

  1. You found out you got your dream job.
  2. All your loved ones forgot your birthday.
  3. A person yelled at you and called you bad names.
  4. You heard on the news that your hometown experienced a natural disaster.
  5. Your good friend had a baby.
  6. While driving, you saw a police car with its flashing right behind you.
  7. The political candidate you voted for lost the election.
  8. You worked hard all day and now you’re taking a hot bath.
  9. The neighbor’s dog barked at 4 am, waking you up.
  10. You drove to your very last day of work before retiring.

15. Differences Between Words

What is the difference between each of these two words?

  1. Lock and key
  2. Flowers and grass
  3. Ketchup and mustard
  4. Guitar and violin
  5. Spoon and fork
  6. Coffee and tea
  7. Newspaper and magazine
  8. Bracelet and necklace
  9. Honey and syrup
  10. Bread and toast
  11. Rock and pebble
  12. Bookstore and library
  13. Bicycle and motorcycle
  14. Bronze and gold
  15. Sluggish and slow

16. Twenty Questions

Have your patient guess each word by asking up to 20 questions. Questions must be yes/no. If they struggle to come up with questions, model the activity: share a word and ask yes/no questions for them.

  1. Napoleon Bonaparte
  2. The Great Wall of China
  3. Mount Everest
  4. Hawaii
  5. Santa Claus
  6. Bathroom
  7. Queen Elizabeth
  8. Alaska
  9. Valentine’s Day
  10. Pumpkin
  11. Marilyn Monroe
  12. Nurse
  13. Movie theater
  14. New Year’s Day
  15. The bank

17. Complete the Sentences

Read the following situations and respond as appropriate.

  1. You’re at a restaurant and your salad arrives. However, you don’t have any utensils. You turn to your waiter and say…
  2. You are at the movie theater, but the person sitting next to you is talking so loudly that you can’t hear the movie. You turn to the person and say…
  3. You are at the shopping mall and see a little girl standing alone, crying. She is looking around for someone. You approach the little girl and say…
  4. Your doctor appointment starts in 10 minutes, but you’re stuck in traffic. You call up the doctor’s office and say…
  5. You find a pair of glasses on the ground. A few minutes later, you see someone squinting, looking on the ground and patting his pockets. You approach him and say…

18. Giving Directions

“Pretend that I’ve never done these activities before. How do I…?”

  1. Brush my teeth
  2. Make a cup of tea
  3. Boil a pot of water
  4. Mail a letter
  5. Make toast
  6. Deposit a check
  7. Do a jumping jack
  8. Peel a banana
  9. Plant a seed
  10. Fold a shirt
  11. Wash a car
  12. Order at a fast food restaurant
  13. Make a snowman
  14. Do the laundry
  15. Make a grilled cheese sandwich

19. Definitions

“Pretend that I’m from another planet. “What is (a)….?”

  1. Summertime
  2. Calendar
  3. Globe
  4. Friendship
  5. University
  6. Gold
  7. Nod
  8. Photo album
  9. Soda can
  10. Jealousy
  11. Greeting card
  12. Handshake
  13. Helicopter
  14. Airplane
  15. Sandwich

20. Picture Descriptions

Presenting one photo at a time, ask the patient to describe each photo in as much detail as possible.

21. Conversations (what would you do if)

What would you do if…?

  1. You inherited a million dollars
  2. You could go to university for free
  3. You could fly
  4. You were a famous celebrity
  5. You were the President of the US
  6. You never had to sleep again
  7. You knew the world was going to end in 3 days
  8. You were 25 again
  9. You were invisible
  10. You could travel anywhere in the world

22. Conversations (getting to know you)

Answer with as many details as possible.

  1. What is your favorite season and why?
  2. What is your favorite sporting event and why?
  3. What is your favorite type of vacation and why?
  4. What was your first job?
  5. What was your favorite job and why?
  6. How are you similar to your parents? How are you different from your
    parents?
  7. What is your favorite thing about yourself and why?
  8. Who is your favorite person and why?
  9. You travel back in time. When do you go and why?
  10. Where was your favorite place to live and why?

23. Conversations (would you rather)

Answer with as many details as possible.

  1. Live 100 years ago or 100 years from now? Why?
  2. Have an extra hand or an extra foot? Why?
  3. Have $1,000 now or $2,000 in one year? Why?
  4. Adopt a puppy or an adult dog? Why?
  5. Eat the same thing everyday or only drink smoothies? Why?
  6. Have an extra long summer or extra long winter? Why?
  7. Be 6” shorter or 6” taller? Why?
  8. Have a tiny apartment in the middle of a large city or a huge mansion in
    the country? Why?
  9. Have the ability to speak with animals or read other people’s minds?
    Why?
  10. Have too many friends or too few? Why?

More Practical Resources

Virtual Speech Therapy Patient Handouts SLP Treatment Forms image 0
Virtual SLP Evaluation Forms 6 Adult Eval Templates PDF image 0

New to Home Health Speech Therapy? Check out our book!

The Home Health SLP Handbook: Everything you need to provide speech therapy to adults in the home health setting. by [Chung Hwa Brewer, Miwa Aparo]