Drawing can be a very helpful tool for both the person with aphasia and their communication partner. Someone with aphasia is often able to draw an idea or item even when they cannot think of the word. At the same time, drawings can be easier for a person with aphasia to understand than speech or written language.
Here are some tips for incorporating drawing into your communication:
Keep tools handy. Stash pens and paper at home, in the car, in a purse/backpack, and anywhere else you frequently communicate. Make sure pens are a dark color; a thin marker is sometimes even better for visibility.
Consider high-tech options. There are many free “whiteboard” apps available. These are sometimes even easier for people with aphasia to use. Many people with aphasia have weakness in their dominant hand and might find it difficult to hold a pen, but will be able to use a finger to draw on a screen.
Go big. This isn’t a time to be too concerned with wasting paper. Make sure the drawing is big enough to be easily understood. If you’re moving on to a new drawing/topic, start over on a fresh sheet of paper to reduce confusion.
Don’t be shy. Many of us feel like we are not artists, but even simple stick figures and line drawings will be helpful. It’s okay to laugh at your drawings as well – have fun!
Be prepared to suggest drawing. If they are trying to communicate something verbally but you aren’t understanding them, it’s okay to say, “Will you try drawing it?”
Use verbal speech to go with your drawings. For instance, draw a picture of a football and hold it up while saying, “We are going to the football game today.”
Drawing is a quick and easy way for both someone with aphasia and their communication partners to improve communication. Don’t be afraid to have fun while using this technique!