Navigating The Holidays With Aphasia

“There’s something about a Christmas sweater that will always make me laugh.”

Many greet the holidays with cheerful anticipation. After all, it means time with family, those Hallmark movies that everyone loves, and the overall holly jolly spirit of Christmas. However, for those with aphasia, the holidays can bring anxiety and loneliness. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the help of family and friends and a little planning, the holidays can be joyful again. Here are a few tips to help you along the way!

Educate Family & Friends

Speaking to family and friends in advance about your specific needs in social settings is an important first step. Often, loved ones need to be educated and sometimes reminded about the best ways to communicate and support you.

Here are some common helpful tips to share.

  • Speak Slowly
  • Don’t raise your voice
  • Be patient
  • Gesturing can be helpful
  • Write it down or type it
Practice Functional Phrases

Starting and keeping a conversation going is tough for someone with aphasia and apraxia. It can be beneficial to practice a script before a social gathering. You’ll feel confident and less lonely when around friends and family.

TIP: Aphasia Readers has a series of Fridge Functional Phrases that are free to download, print, and put on your fridge to remind you to practice your speech. Check them out on our Fridge Functional Phrases page.

Be prepared

The holidays can be chaotic at times. Try to think ahead when it comes to holiday activities and travel planning. Here are a few settings you may find yourself in and ways to prepare in advance to enhance your communication skills.

Going Out For A Holiday Dinner

  • Look up the restaurant and menu in advance and practice saying your order.
  • Bring visual aids with you if appropriate.
  • Don’t forget to bring any technology (phone, tablets, books, etc.) to help you communicate effectively.



  • Getting through the airport can be a task on its own, even for people without aphasia. During the holidays, make sure to print out your aphasia ID card so those you encounter know how to communicate with you.
  • Practice functional phrases in advance so you feel confident communicating.
  • Make sure to pack any technology that’s helpful in communicating. Use it to order meals and practice your speech during down times.
Pace Yourself

The holidays are known for being the busiest time of the year. If you’re someone who experiences neuro fatigue, it’s essential to listen to your body and pace yourself when asked to participate in activities. You may find that you get frustrated or overwhelmed, but taking a break and regrouping can help you stay healthy and happy.

Holiday Budgeting

Those with aphasia and their caregivers should remember to have open conversations about holiday budgeting. Caregivers and/or family members are encouraged to find ways to allow their loved one with aphasia to participate in holiday shopping for gift-giving. Consider loading up a gift card to stay within a specific budget or just sitting down to discuss the budget and expectations for the holidays.

TIP: Shopping online can provide a calmer environment without worrying about the holiday rush.

Make New Traditions

Traditions bring families together and help create memorable experiences. Don’t be afraid to create new traditions that are more enjoyable and comfortable. It’s one thing to get in extra practice with social activities, but it’s also good to engage in low-stress activities such as riding around to look at Christmas lights or listening to music while decorating the Christmas tree.

For support, questions, or if you need a friend to talk to who just “gets it,” please feel free to contact us at Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news from Aphasia Readers! If you haven’t picked up an Aphasia Readers book, order your copy HERE!

God Bless,

Anna Teal

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