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Experiences of Reading and Writing with Aphasia

Conference contribution
Authors Emma Kjellén
Katja Laakso
Ingrid Behrns
Published in 4th Nordic Aphasia Conference, May 2-4 2013, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Language en
Keywords aphasia, literacy, strategies, experiences
Subject categories Logopedics and phoniatrics, Linguistics


Introduction In the present-day information society, literacy is more important than ever, even in everyday life. While there is some research into acquired reading and writing difficulties, there are not many studies in which persons with aphasia have been interviewed about their experience of reading and writing (Behrns, 2009). This is the focus of the present study. Research questions What does literacy mean to persons with aphasia? What are their reading and writing habits of today? How do they handle the consequences of reading and writing difficulties in daily life? How do they feel about reading and writing treatment? Methods Seven persons aged 53–76 years with mild to moderate aphasia were interviewed initially. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and preliminary analysed using Qualitative Content Analysis (Kvale, 1997, Graneheim & Lundman, 2004). Data saturation was not achieved and the data acquisition continued. Five other persons aged 39–65 years with mild to moderate aphasia were interviewed. Work on a second analysis (including all twelve interviews) is in progress. Preliminary findings The preliminary analysis yielded three main categories: A changed reading experience, A changed writing experience and Adjusting to new conditions. The most striking finding was that the informants felt that their literacy practices had changed in terms of what and how they read and write. Compared with before, the informants read and write less often and the texts they read and write are shorter and less complex. The strategies they use to handle the changes include applying different reading techniques, obtaining help from significant others and making use of assistive technology. The informants felt that reading and writing treatment should be stimulating, joyful and varied. While reading and writing could still meet a purpose and give them pleasure in daily life, they hoped that their ability would improve. Discussion Persons with aphasia have different needs and priorities as regards reading and writing. The preliminary findings also indicate that treatment should be designed on an individual basis. The informants have access to alternative ways of reading and writing, but there seem to be a lack of appropriate aids specially designed for this group. The informants’ strategies could be used as ‘good examples’ for other persons with aphasia. Since significant others are often called upon to help, they should be involved in treatment and should be given information and guidance. References Behrns, I. (2009). Aphasia and the challenge of writing. PhD thesis. Göteborgs universitet: Sahlgrenska akademin. Graneheim, U.H., & Lundman, B. (2004). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24, 105–112. Kvale, S. (1997). Den kvalitativa forskningsintervjun. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

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