What communication difficulties might someone with a brain tumour experience?
There is a range of different communication difficulties that you may experience:
- Language impairment (also known as 'dysphasia')
- Speech difficulties
- Cognitive communication difficulties; problems with cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, social cognition, can lead to communication difficulties due to forgetting words, losing the thread of a conversation, or not knowing when to talk and when to listen during a conversation
Read more about
Dysphasia is the most common communication difficulty experienced by people with brain tumours. Sometimes the term 'Aphasia' is used, which is complete loss of language. It is important to note that dysphasia does not affect intellect although, unfortunately, this a common misperception.
You may have
difficulty producing language, which could involve:
- Difficulty speaking and may only be able to produce a small number of words in halting sentences, for example “want … tea … sugar"
- Getting words muddled up e.g. confuse “yes" and “no"
- Being able to describe an object, but not name it
- Only being able to say a few words, which may be linked to emotions and could be swear words
In these instances, it is usually possible for other people to understand your speech, but it may take you some time to say what you want to say. With this type of dysphasia, you are usually aware that you have a communication difficulty.
You may have
difficulty understanding language or producing meaningful language, which could involve:
- Not understanding what others are saying, particularly long sentences
i.e. you forget the beginning of what has been said
- Having difficulty understanding if there is background noise or several people speaking at once
- Being able to read headlines, but not the main body of the text
- Being able to write, but not read back what you have written
In other words, you may have speech that sounds fluent, but it is made up of 'non–words'. As a result, other people may not be able to understand what you are trying to say.
In general, someone with this type of dysphasia will not be aware that they have a communication difficulty.
There are various types of dysphasia and the three most common types are: 'Broca's aphasia', 'Wernicke's aphasia' and 'Global aphasia'. More information about these types can be found in our fact sheet which can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
Emotional effects of dysphasia
The effects of dysphasia can be exceedingly frustrating as being able to communicate efficiently is important to many aspects of daily life. As a result you might feel emotionally 'cut off' from those around you, and your relationships may suffer.
If the effects are severe, you may feel extremely isolated, and depression is not uncommon in people affected by dysphasia. Carers, family & friends can feel lonely and isolated too.
Read more about depression.