Agrammatism- speaking in broken sentences due to Aphasia

What is Agrammatism?

Agrammatism is a technical term for a way of speaking (often found in Broca's aphasia type) in which the grammar of the sentence appears to be broken down.  People with aphasia (PWA) who have agrammatism tend to speak in strings of words while the "joining" words (and, but etc) get left out in speech. Sometimes the person with aphasia might leave out word endings (eg. -ing). 

People with agrammatism are often described as having telegraphic speech. This means that some of the core words might be present in a spoken message, but the supporting words get omitted out. While it can occur to varying degrees, the presence of agrammatism often affects the meaning of the sentences.The person with aphasia finds that it impacts their ability to convey their thoughts well. In conversation, the listener may not have all the bits and pieces that are required to help them understand what the PWA might have to say. This leads to communication breakdown.

If the PWA also has difficulty understanding language syntax (the structure of a sentence), the problem is often an even greater challenge. Many researchers who have been studying aphasia (aphasiologists) have found that agrammatism affects not just the ability to produce these missing words, but also seems to affect the understanding of how sentences are constructed.

I am Bilingual, Will I have agrammatism in both languages?

Agrammatism seems to affect both languages for bilingual speakers with aphasia. Interestingly, it's impact shows up in different ways in different languages. The effects of agrammatism appears to be dependent on the natural structure and the grammar of the language itself.

If you are bilingual, the key thing to remember while working with a therapist is to determine if they are proficient in both the languages that you might be speaking. A good aphasia therapist needs and should understand and look for what might be a dialectical differences versus a true aphasia symptom.

How is agrammatism treated?

There is a  large variation in agrammatism within aphasia. Two different people with aphasia with agrammatism errors are completely different from each other. Therefore the best therapy is one that is highly individualized.

There are numerous researched and proven ways to work on this specific issue of aphasia. It takes customized assessment and understanding of a person's specific agrammatism errors to build a speech therapy treatment program that will address these issues.

Therapy should work on activities that will help the PWA understand the specific nature of their agrammatism errors and how to fix them. And attempts should be quickly made to help generalize and use those rules of language in conversation.

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