The speech-language pathologist (speech therapist) working with the person will show you ways that you can help. There is no one size fits all, but there are a few guidelines.
One of the most important things you can do is to keep your natural relationship with the person, rather than becoming too much of a teacher. Always remember that communication involves two people. You need to help the person with the brain injury to understand you and to express his thoughts as many times as he needs to try.
- Create an easy, non-demanding atmosphere where he feels free to communicate without feeling he’s under pressure to perform.
- Reduce background noise and other distractions when talking with the person. Get his attention before speaking. Limit the number of people in the room, especially if he has a comprehension problem.
- Speak in direct, clear, short sentences. Keep an adult tone of voice and vocabulary.
- Ask yes/no and multiple choice questions.
- Emphasize important information.
- Use hand movements, writing single words, or act out what you mean if your message doesn’t seem to be getting through.
- If he has trouble expressing himself, give him time to communicate in the best way he can. Give him your full attention until he finishes the thought. Don’t finish sentences for him, although you may repeat or paraphrase his message to make sure you understand it.
- Don’t ask too many questions at one time. Wait for a response to one question before asking more.
- When you have to, give cues to help him find or express the words he wants.
- He may talk non-stop and not give the listener a turn to speak. If this happens, politely interrupt and say that you would like to speak.
- If all else fails, be honest and admit that you didn’t understand and ask him if it’s really important or suggest he tell you later (often he will).