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cognitive differences

Cognitive Difficulties Caused by Communication Disorders... How They Impact Everyday Life and What YOU Can Do Today to Improve

Posted by Constant Therapy
Constant Therapy

Communication disorders (caused by stroke or brain injury, for example) can affect so many aspects of daily life - things like attention, planning, perception, memory, organizing, and more. Often we take for granted our communication skills, until communication becomes difficult.

In today’s post, we’ll talk about the cognitive components of communication that may be affected when you have a communication disorder AND what types of exercises can help you or a loved one to overcome those communication difficulties!

Communication requires SO many more skills than we might think in order to be successful and effortless. There are two "umbrella" categories that these skills fall into: cognition and language.

1. COGNITION (defined as the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and senses) includes many skills:

  • Attention – how well can a person focus on a task? Can they stay on task even when there are other sounds or visual input? Can they multitask? Can they switch tasks and come back to the original task they were working on?
  • Perception – how well does a person process information that’s coming in? Think of your fives senses here – your perception, or processing of information, can be affected for your vision, smell, hearing, touch, and/or taste.
  • Memory – how accurately does a person remember things that happened years ago? How accurately do they remember what you told them 30 seconds ago? 5 minutes ago? Any type of memory, immediate (30 seconds ago), short-term (5 minutes ago), or long-term (years ago) can be affected.
  • Organization – how well does a person keep their thoughts in order? Do they do things in a logical order that makes sense?
  • Executive Function – this covers a lot of skills....
    • Planning – can you make a plan AND then carry out that plan?
    • Reasoning/Problem Solving – can you “read between the lines” and figure out what’s going on in a complicated situation? Can you identify and solve problems?
    • Flexibility – can you change your plan or understanding of something without breaking down?
    • Working Memory – can you juggle multiple tasks at once and hold related information in your mind long enough to process it? A brilliant professor once described this to me as a “clipboard” – is your clipboard big enough to hold all of the information you need to perform a specific task? Or does your clipboard fill up with just the basics?

2. LANGUAGE also includes many skills, such as understanding AND producing language – and that includes everything from grammar to vocabulary to big picture message to using gestures! Check back for a later blog that will address what language type of difficulties can be caused by communication disorders and what we can do to work on those skills.

Today we'll focus on the COGNITION side of things.

CAUSES OF COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES
So what can cause difficulties with any of the aspects of cognition I listed above? Here are just a few communication disorders that can affect cognition (I’ve linked to other blogs I’ve written about each disease):

MATCHING YOUR DIFFICULTIES WITH SPECIFIC CONSTANT THERAPY TASKS
Now let’s talk about what we can do to work on those skills! Here are some  Constant Therapy tasks app that can help – and WHY they help!

Attention

How it affects everyday life

  • Completing tasks
  • Staying focused on conversations
  • Concentrating on reading (even this blog!)
  • Too much daydreaming

Which Constant Therapy tasks can help?

  • Flanker – you’re shown arrows and need to choose the direction of the red one; helps you to focus on ONE task for an extended amount of time

flanker screenshot

  • Slapjack – tap the screen every time you see a card that matches the first one; helps you focus on looking for that specific card you saw at the beginning for the entirety of the task

playing card slapjack screenshot

  • Symbol Matching – find the symbols that match the one displayed; helps you focus on a specific task and forces you to observe the details within specific symbols

symbol matching screenshot

 Perception

How it affects every day life

  • Noticing details when reading signs or maps
  • Figuring out what made a certain sound (was it a bird or the door opening?)
  • Reading

Which Constant Therapy tasks can help?

  • Map Reading – answer multiple choice questions based on a map; helps you see and process details on a map **Directly Functional**

map reading screenshot

  • Mental Rotation – compare two shapes and decide whether they’re different or the same shape just rotated; helps you see and process details in the shape

mental rotation screenshot

  • Pattern Recreation – watch a displayed pattern and recreate it; helps you process and recall patterns
  • Symbol Matching – find the symbols that match the one displayed; helps you observe the details within specific symbols

symbol matching screenshot

  • Calendar – answer questions using a provided calendar; helps with seeing details and processing the complex visual information contained on a calendar **Directly Functional**

calendar task screenshot

  • Clock Reading – read the time of an analog clock; helps with number processing and details **Directly Functional**

clock reading screenshot

Memory

How it affects every day life

  • Following a conversation
  • Remember a birthday
  • Following through on promises or commitments
  • Remembering names

Which Constant Therapy tasks can help?

  • Visual
    • Picture Matching – find all matching pictures in a “memory” like game; helps with immediate/short term memory for pictures
    • Word Matching – find all matching words in a “memory” like game; helps with immediate/short term memory for written information
    • Picture N-Back Memory Task – tap the screen every time you see the first picture you were shown; helps with immediate/short term memory for pictures

picture n back screenshot

    • Face Matching – find all matching faces in a “memory” like game; helps with immediate/short term memory for people’s faces (real photographs!) **Directly Functional**

face matching screenshot

    • Pattern Recreation – watch a displayed pattern and recreate it; helps you remember visual information
  • Auditory
    • Sound Matching – find all the matching sounds in a “memory” like game; helps with immediate/short term memory for sounds

sound matching screenshot

    • Environmental Sound Matching – find all the matching environmental sounds in a “memory” like game; helps with immediate/short term memory for sounds that could show up in daily life **Directly Functional**

environmental sound matching screenshot

    • Voicemail – listen to an auditory voice mail and answer questions; helps with immediate/short term memory for verbally presented information AND processing that information to answer questions **Directly Functional**

voicemail screenshot

    • Auditory Command – follow auditory directions by swiping the correct picture to the correct designated box; helps with immediate/short term memory for verbally presented instructions

auditory command screenshot

Organization/Executive Function

How it affects every day life

  • Setting and fulfilling goals (this could be as simple as grocery shopping or as long-term as going to college)
  • Changing evening plans when a friend cancels last minute
  • Picking up on someone’s feelings that they haven’t told you specifically (maybe they aren’t talking about their beloved dog as often as usual... can you piece together that may the dog is unwell, has run away, or passed away?)
  • Putting together a birthday party for a friend
  • Making your shopping list
  • Deciding on a plan for the day
  • Keeping track of belongings

Which Constant Therapy tasks can help?

  • Instruction Sequencing – place written directions in order; helps with planning and organization daily tasks **Directly Functional**

instruction sequencing

  • Word Ordering – put words in alphabetical order; helps with organizing information logically

word ordering screenshot

  • Picture Ordering – place pictures in alphabetical order based on name; helps with organizing information and working memory (you have to think of not only the name but also how to spell it and what order to place the pictures in based on letters!)

picture ordering screenshot

  • Currency – calculate the amount of money displayed by currency; helps with holding the amount of money each coin or bill represents and then adding all of these totals **Directly Functional**

currency screenshot

  • Functional Math – answer questions about bills, sale prices, tips, taxes and more using a calculator and/or scratch pad; problem solve to figure out how to solve the issue at hand and use your working memory to hold all of the relevant information in your mind **Directly Functional**

Ready to start improving your communication difficulties with Constant Therapy today?

Download Constant Therapy today.

Topics: Tips for Survivors, Aphasia

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Constant Therapy is an award-winning cognitive and speech therapy app, created for survivors of stroke, brain injury, and other neurogenic disorders.

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