In this post, you’ll find 55 aphasia treatment activities!
The activities are organized by expressive and receptive aphasia. Then further broken down into treatment ideas for severe, moderate, and mild impairments.
You’re welcome to download any of the free printable PDFs on the post. Bookmark this page to use during treatment. Or copy and print the activities.
For hundreds more handouts and worksheets, check out the bestselling Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack on our shop!
- Expressive Aphasia
- Treatment Approaches
- Severe: Expressive Aphasia Treatment Activities
- Moderate: Expressive Aphasia Treatment Activities
- Mild: Expressive Aphasia Treatment Activities
- Receptive Aphasia
- Treatment Approaches
- Severe: Receptive Aphasia Treatment Activities
- Moderate: Receptive Aphasia Treatment Activities
- Mild: Receptive Aphasia Treatment Activities
- Handouts & Worksheets
1. Aphasia Support Group
Help patients connect to an aphasia support group. Find a local group through university speech clinics, hospital programs, Facebook Groups, or non-profits.
Try the National Aphasia Associations support group finder (U.S. only).
Or look into an online group such as Virtual Connections.
2. Aphasia Needs Assessment
Complete a needs assessment to understand your patient’s needs and wants better. Use their answers to design person-centered treatments.
Gather a functional vocabulary inventory. Include names of people, pets, places, activities, etc. that are important to the patient.
Use the assessment by Garrett and Beukelman below (click for PDF). Or create your own.
3. Teach Expressive Aphasia Strategies
Teach patients with expressive aphasia the following word-finding tips. Practice these strategies with the aphasia activities listed below.
1. DESCRIBE IT
- Who would use it?
- What does it look like?
- Where do you find it?
- When would you use it?
- Why would you use it?
- How is it used?
- Use a similar word.
- For example, say “piano” instead of “organ”
3. OPPOSITE WORD
- Use antonyms, or opposite words.
- For example, say “not hot” instead of “cold”
4. GROUP OR CATEGORY
- Person, place, or thing.
- Section of the store you’d find it in.
5. FIRST LETTER OR FIRST SOUND
Point or act it out.
4. Use Picture Cards
Open the Picture Cards and Picture Descriptions post on your browser. Or sign up to download the Free PDF.
5. Constraint-Induced Language Therapy
This is an intensive approach for patients who want to improve verbal speech. Be aware that it discourages any other communication compensations, so it may not be the right fit for some patients.
The 3 Principles of Constraint-Induced Language Therapy:
- Forced Use
Only speaking is allowed.
No compensations, including no gestures, writing, or AAC.
- Massed Practice
Intensive practice of 2-4 hours per day.
6. Semantic Feature Analysis
Semantic Feature Analysis helps a patient find a word (name a picture) by describing semantic features of the word.
These semantic features are: what group it’s part of, what action it does, an associated word, properties of the word, where it’s located, and how to use it.
Use Picture Cards and the Word Web below.
Click to download a free PDF Word Web.
7. Phonological Component Analysis
Phonological Component Analysis helps patients find a word (name a picture) by describing phonological features of the word.
Sound familiar? PCA is modeled after Semantic Feature Analysis. It uses a word web to help patients think of five phonological components of a target picture. These components are: first sound, another word that starts with that first sound, final sound, number of syllables, and rhyming word.
Use Picture Cards and create a Word Web Worksheet (available on our shop).
8. Verb Network Strengthening Treatment
The specific goal of VNeST is to improve word-finding and build sentences.
The therapist presents a verb. The patient then builds a sentence from this verb, filling in the WHO and WHAT.
See Aphasia Treatment Approaches for step-by-step instructions and a free PDF word list.
9. Recruit the Right Hemisphere (Intention Manipulation)
Facilitate lateralization of language production to the right brain structures by having a patient complete a complex left-hand movement during a naming task.
- The patient completes a complex left-hand movement. For example, they open the lid of a box and then squeeze a rubber ball.
- After the hand movement, ask them to name a target picture.
- If correct, proceed to the next target picture.
- If incorrect, the patient repeats the target word and then completes a different left-hand movement (e.g. making a circle with their left hand).
10. Melodic Intonation Therapy
- Write down a word or phrase. Show it to the patient.
- Hum the word or phrase at a rate of 1 syllable per second (use a higher-pitched note on the stressed syllable or word).
- Sing the word or phrase twice. You tap the patient’s left hand on each syllable as you hum.
- Sing the word or phrase in unison with your patient while tapping the patient’s left hand on each syllable.
- Continue to sing the word or phrase together with the patient while tapping their left hand. Gradually fade your singing.
• At this point, the patient is singing, and you are only tapping their left hand (no verbal or oral/facial cueing).
- Sing and tap the word or phrase while the patient listens. Immediately after, the patient intones the word or phrase, assisted only by your hand tapping.
• To intone, the patient may use a sing-song voice. For example, with the word “apple,” the first syllable “ah” will be high-pitched and the second syllable “ple” will be low-pitched.
- Immediately after their correct repetition, ask, “What did you say?” Provide hand-tapping as the patient intones the target word or phrase.
- Complete steps 1-7 with a new word or phrase.
11. Scripted Conversation
With this approach, the therapist helps a patient create scripts that will improve conversations in their daily life. An example is a script to order pizza over the phone.
1. Work with your patient to create 3 scripts that would improve their daily conversations. Each should be useful for your patient and the right level of difficulty.
2. In each script, include lines for both your patient and the conversation partner. For example, if the script is for paying a credit card bill over the phone, write lines for both the patient and the customer service agent.
3. Each script should have 10 turns.
4. During their turn, the patient will respond to what the conversation partner just said.
12. Response Elaboration Training
The goal of Response Elaboration Training is to increase the number of content words that patients with aphasia say during a conversation. Content words are nouns, pronouns, main verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions.
This approach allows the therapist to follow the patient’s lead.
For example, a therapist may say, “Tell me about this picture,” and ask questions based on the patient’s answer. There are no wrong answers, and the therapist encourages longer utterances with shaping, modeling, and chaining.
13. Treatment of Underlying Form
TUF was created to treat agrammatic aphasia. The goal is to increase syntactic complexity.
Using action pictures and notecards, the therapist helps the patient build sentences.
See Aphasia Treatment Approaches for step-by-step instructions.
14. Promoting Aphasics’ Communication Effectiveness
PACE therapy uses conversations to improve communication.
First, the patient chooses a form of communication (talking, gestures, writing, AAC devices, Pictionary, etc.) Then the therapist and patient take turns conveying messages. Finally, the therapist gives cues and feedback.
- Work on practical messages that matter to the patient. For example, their name, phone number, or ordering at a favorite restaurant.
- Let patients choose the form of communication (e.g., speech, gestures).
- The therapist and patient take equal turns sending and receiving messages. For example, you say, “What would you like to order?” Now it’s the patient’s turn to respond.
- Give feedback about how clearly the patient conveyed their message. Use errorless learning and spaced retrieval to increase accuracy.
- Train the primary caregiver to take turns sending and receiving messages and then provide feedback to the patient.
Severe: Expressive Aphasia Treatment Activities
15. Sing the Alphabet
Print, write, or otherwise have a large-print Alphabet available on one page. Cue your patient to “sing the ABCs” while pointing to each letter.
16. Automatic Phrases
Print or write the following automatic phrases. Have patients say each of the series aloud, pointing to each number or word as they go.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
10 20 30 40 50
60 70 80 90 100.
100 200 300 400 500
600 700 800 900 1,000
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.
January, February, March, April, May,
June, July, August, September,
October, November, December
17. Object Naming
Use physical objects in the environment or the Picture Cards for this activity. Substitute objects as needed. One by one, point to an object and ask the patient, “What is the name of this?”
For example, point to a:
18. Sentence Completion
Ask the patient to complete the sentence. Either read the sentence aloud or have the patient read the sentence. They may say or write the answer, depending on your treatment goals.
- The water is either too hot or too …
- The game is either too easy to too …
- The baby is either wet or …
- Turn the heater up or …
- The storm has thunder and …
- Add some salt and …
- We bought a new washer and …
- Go to the bakery to buy a loaf of …
- Let’s visit mom and …
- I eat soup with a …
19. Naming from Description
Ask the patient to name what is being described. Either read the sentences aloud or have the patient read them. They may say or write the answer.
- This animal is black and white, is from China, and eats bamboo.
- This sport involves a team kicking a ball into the other team’s net.
- This famous structure is found in Paris, is built of iron, and has restaurants at the top.
- This job involves putting on a uniform and battling fires.
- This flower grows on a bush, has thorns, and is known for its pleasant fragrance.
- This famous business person founded PayPay, Tesla, and SpaceX.
- This country is an island, is close to Australia, and its people are known as “Kiwis.”
- This event happens on the same date every year to celebrate the day a person was born.
- This is worn on your face, has a prescription, and helps you see better.
- These natural disasters are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions at sea.
20. Category Naming
Ask the patient to name what category each set of words belongs to. Either read the words aloud or have the patient read them. They may say or write the answer.
- Strawberry, apple, banana, melon
- Indian, Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic
- Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter
- Brie, cheddar, parmesan, blue
- Socks, skirt, hat, sweater
- Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai
- Sponge, duster, bleach, mop
- Tiger, bobcat, jaguar, mountain lion
- Kidney, lungs, heart, gallbladder
- Netflix, Disney +, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video
21. Category Members
Name at least 3 items that belong to each category. Or, name as many items from each category as you can in 1 minute.
- From movies
- TV Shows
- Award shows
- Kitchen appliances
- Gardening tools
- Cleaning supplies
- Home office
22. Rhyming Words
Fill in the blank with the word that is being described. All of the answers rhyme.
- Didn’t remember
- Opposite of cold
- Another word for spoil
- Past tense of “catch”
- What a teacher did
- Discharged a gun
- A horse’s pace
- A person from Scottland
- To hit a fly
- Boil water in it
Fill in the blank with the word that is being described. All of the words begin with the same letter.
- Opposite of false
- A ballerina’s dress
- Your watch tells this
- Comes with lightning
- You eat meals on it
- A typed cellphone message
- A train runs on it
- More than once
- Permanent ink on skin
- Mexican food served in a tortilla
Read each word. Think of a similar word, a word that has the same meaning.
Read each word. What is the opposite word? A word with the opposite meaning?
26. Needed Items
Name three items you need to…
- Make lemonade
- Go on a cruise
- Bathe a dog
- Have a picnic
- Make a sandwich
- Wrap a present
- Grow an herb garden
- Perform in a choir
- Run a foot race
- Make a sculpture
27. Complete the Series
What word comes next in each series?
- One, two, three, _____
- Baby, toddler, teen, _____
- Do, re, mi, _____
- Whole, half, quarter, _____
- Spring, Summer, Fall, _____
- 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, _____
- January, February, March, _____
- Small, medium, large, _____
- Hexagon, pentagon, rectangle, _____
- Ounce, cup, pint, _____
28. Naming Emotions
How would you feel in the following situations? What emotions would you feel?
- You win the lottery.
- Your pet runs away.
- A car alarm goes off in the middle of your meeting.
- Your grandbabies are visiting.
- You can’t find your wallet.
- You take off your shoes after a long day.
- You spill your drink on your boss’s blouse.
- Your blind date turns out to be fun.
- The flight is canceled just as you arrived at the airport.
- You watch a sunset on the beach.
Moderate: Expressive Aphasia Treatment Activities
29. Differences Between Words
What is the difference between each of these two words? (Provide picture cards as needed)
- Credit card and cash
- Pen and pencil
- Text and email
- Flowers and bouquet
- Plate and bowl
- Hill and mountain
- Stroll and hike
- Dog and wolf
- Vanilla and cake
- Trombone and trumpet
30. Twenty Questions
Have your patient guess each word by asking up to 20 questions. Questions must be yes/no.
If they struggle to come up with questions, model the activity: share a word and ask yes/no questions for them.
- Great Barrier Reef
- Oprah Winfrey
- Tour de France
- Valentine’s Day
- Frida Kahlo
31. Complete the Sentences
Read the following situations and respond as appropriate.
- You’re at a grocery store and a person’s cart is blocking the aisle. You make eye contact and say …
- You call a Thai restaurant to order dinner for you and your partner. The waiter answers, and you say …
- You bought a shirt online but it doesn’t fit. You bring it to the store and say …
- Your daughter sends you a thoughtful birthday gift. You open a new email and write …
- A frisbee flies into your backyard. When the neighbor kids knock on the door, you open it and say …
32. Giving Directions
“Pretend that I’ve never done these activities before. How do I…?”
- Cook pasta
- Scramble eggs
- Wash my hands
- Charge a cell phone
- Ride a bike
- Make a cup of tea
- Dry laundry
- Buy a movie ticket
- Put on a band-aide
- Make a rootbeer float
- Sled down a hill
- Take my dog for a walk
- Do a crunch
- Style my hair
- Buy a plane ticket
“Pretend that I’m from another planet. “What is (a)….?”
- Comfort Food
- The Olympics
34. Picture Descriptions
Presenting one photo at a time, ask the patient to describe each photo in as much detail as possible.
Mild: Expressive Aphasia Treatment Activities
35. Conversation Activities for Aphasia (what would you do if…)
What would you do if…?
- You won a dream vacation?
- You could cure any one disease?
- You could travel back in time?
- You had superhuman strength?
- Your house burned down in a fire?
- You were granted 3 wishes?
- You fell in love with someone on a different continent?
- You became the CEO of Amazon?
- The world had no more electricity?
- You could turn into any animal?
36. Conversations Activities for Aphasia (getting to know you)
Answer with as many details as possible.
- What is your favorite sports team and why?
- What was your hometown like?
- What were your interests as a child?
- What was a major crossroad in your life and how did it affect you?
- What was your most memorable job and why?
- If you could redo your twenties, would you and why?
- If you could choose just one word to describe you, what would it be and why?
- What is your favorite book genre and why?
- What is the worst natural disaster you lived through?
- If you wrote a memoir, what would be the theme?
37. Conversations Activities for Aphasia (would you rather…)
Answer with as much detail as possible.
- Live in the city or the countryside? Why?
- See 10 minutes into the future of 100 years in the future? Why?
- Be excellent at singing or excellent at dancing? Why?
- Live in an ice castle or sandcastle? Why?
- Have a pet koala or pet panda? Why?
- Read a good book or watch a good movie? Why?
- Be on a survival reality show or dating reality show? Why?
- Live in a sailboat or an RV? Why?
- Have a small part in a great movie or a big part in a bad movie? Why?
- Go skydiving or deep-sea diving? Why?
38. Teach Receptive Aphasia Strategies
Teach patients with receptive aphasia and their caregivers the following strategies.
1. GATHER SUPPLIES
Have a writing surface and utensil ready.
2. WRITE THE MAIN TOPIC
In large letters, write the main topic of your conversation at the top of the writing surface.
- Example: ‘DOCTOR VISIT’
- This will be a maximum of 3 words.
- Capital letters may be easier for your loved one to read.
3. WRITE KEYWORDS.
- Write down keywords below the main topic.
- Add bullet points to the left of your keywords.
- Pause for a moment while your loved one reads.
• 10 AM
- Say what you want to say. Use short, simple sentences.
- Avoid “talking down” to your loved one by maintaining your normal speech patterns.
5. ASK QUESTIONS
- Ask your loved one questions to make sure they understood your message.
- “Why are you going to the doctor on Wednesday?”
- “What time is your visit?”
- “Do I need to say it a different way?”
39. Augmented Input
To improve comprehension, the communication partner ‘augments’ or adds visual input to spoken language.
The added visual input can be intermittent or continuous. Pause regularly to check comprehension.
Augmented input can include:
- Written keyword (the main topic, topic changes, key ideas, questions, response choices, etc.)
- Gestures (pointing, symbolic gestures, pantomime)
- Graphics (maps, pictures)
- Physical objects
- Other writing or drawing while communicating
40. Supported Conversation for Adults with Aphasia (SCA)
With SCA, treatment focuses on the communication partner, not the patient.
The goals are to:
1) Acknowledge the competence of the person with aphasia
2) Help the person with aphasia reveal their competence.
Teach the communication partners the following supportive techniques:
How The Communication Partner Can Acknowledge Competence
- Use a natural tone of voice
- Choose adult/complex topics of conversation
- Express that you know that the patient knows more than they can communicate
- Attribute communication breakdowns to your own limitations as a communicator
- Be open when you have to turn to someone else to get information
How The Communication Partner Can Reveal Competence
- Use short, simple sentences and visual information (gestures, written keywords, and pictures)
- Reduce distractions
- Observe the patient’s non-verbal social cues to help understand their level of comprehension
- Summarize what you believe the message to be and ask for clarification
- Ask yes/no questions
- Ask one question at a time
- Ask specific questions. For example, “For lunch, I can make a sandwich or soup. Which one do you want?” (versus “What do you want for lunch?” which is too open-ended.)
- Request more information by asking the patient to gesture, point, write, etc.
- Give the patient plenty of time to respond
How The Communication Partner Can Verify the Message
Summarize the patient’s message by asking, “Let me make sure I understand” and by:
- Repeating the message and/or
- Adding gestures or writing down keywords and/or
- Expanding what you think they were trying to say and/or
- Giving a brief summary of longer conversations
Severe: Receptive Aphasia Treatment Activities
41. Body Part Identification
Ask the patient to, “Point to your…”
42. Identify Objects
Ask the patient to “Point to the….” (Skip or substitute objects as needed.)
43. 1-Step Directions
Have a pen and piece of paper ready. If neither is available, substitute any two objects that are easy to pick up, such as a cell phone or book. Ask the patient to:
- Nod your head
- Point your finger
- Clap your hands
- Pick up the pen
- Turn over the paper
- Point to the floor with the pen
- Put the pen on the paper
- Touch your right shoulder with your left hand
- Shrug both shoulders
- Tap your right foot on the floor three times
44. Simple Yes/No Questions
- Is today Monday?
- Do you live in London?
- Are you wearing a sweater?
- Do you have 3 children?
- Is it winter right now?
- Are you at home?
- Did you eat lunch yet?
- Is it raining outside?
- Are you thirty years old?
- Are you married?
45. Complex Yes/No Questions
- Does 50 come before 40?
- Is a liter larger than a gram?
- Does the summer include July?
- Is 25% off the same as half off?
- Are there 8 gallons in a cup?
- Do grapes grow on a vine?
- Does the sun orbit the earth?
- Is a blue whale bigger than a dolphin?
- Do you turn on the heater to warm up?
- Do you bake the cake and then mix the batter?
46. Identify Words
Write down a pair of words on a whiteboard, then say one of the words aloud. Ask the patient to point to the word you said. Erase, then write the next pair of words.
- Tuesday ……. Thursday
- Spork ……. Spoon
- Pill ……. Phone
- Chart ……. Cart
- Comb ……. Brush
- Yes ……. No
- Shirt ……. Sweater
- Text ……. Email
- Oven ……. Stove
- Table ……. Tablet
47. Identify Phrases
Write a pair of phrases on a whiteboard. Say one of the phrases aloud. Ask the patient to point to the one you said.
- Hand wash ………. Tumble dry
- Login ………. Log off
- Reply ………. Forward
- Take with food ………. Take on an empty stomach
- Yield ………. Do Not Enter
- Take out ………. Pick up
- Iced coffee ………. Iced tea
- Order Here ………. Pay Here
- Print Receipt ………. Email Receipt
- Left turn only ………. Right turn only
Moderate: Receptive Aphasia Treatment Activities
48. Follow Written Directions #1
Draw or print out the numbers 1, 2, and 3 followed by lines (see example below). Allow plenty of space for your patient to write on each line. Then, ask your patient to read and follow the directions (1-5).
- Draw a circle on the first line.
- Draw a triangle on the last line.
- Write the word “blue” on the remaining line.
- Put a checkmark in the circle.
- Cross out the word on the second line.
49. Follow Written Directions #2
Draw or print out the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 followed by lines (see example below). Allow plenty of space for your patient to write on each line. Then, ask your patient to read and follow the directions (1-5).
- Write the current year on line 2.
- Write your last name on line 1.
- Write the name of the city you live in on the last line.
- Write the current month on the line above the city.
- Draw an ‘X’ on the remaining line.
50. Identify Sentences
Write a pair of sentences on a whiteboard. Say one of the sentences aloud. Ask the patient to point to the one you said.
- The second door to the left ………. The second door to the right
- See you next time! ………. See you later!
- Sign on the line ………. Sign below the line
- We are closed for lunch ………. We will close for lunch
- Did you not take your medication? ………. You did not take your medication?
Read each paragraph aloud, then ask the related questions.
1. Kim loves rescuing stray cats and dogs. She once found an abandoned cat who had no tail. Kim adopted the cat and named her Misty.
- What does Kim love to do?
- Who did she find?
- What did she name it?
2. After Terrance retired, he began to make clocks in his workshop. He made clocks out of rocks. He made clocks out of pictures. He even made clocks out of crab shells!
- Where did Terrance make clocks?
- When did he start making clocks?
- What did he make clocks out of?
3. Maisy Dobbs is a mystery series about an English detective. After working as a nurse during World War I, Maisy becomes a psychologist. She solves murders using psychology, detective work, and her mysterious intuition. During one case, Maisy must find the psychic who killed a rich man’s wife. Most of the psychics are frauds, but the killer is not. Maisy must outsmart the suspect before she strikes again.
- Where is Maisy from?
- How does she solve murders?
- Who killed the rich man’s wife?
Mild: Receptive Aphasia Treatment Activities
Cue your patient to, “Read the paragraph aloud, then summarize what you read.”
1. Merida is a colonial city on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. It is known for its colorful buildings, hot weather, and friendly people. Merida is also known for cenotes, which are natural, freshwater pools that are found throughout the region. Both locals and visitors love to swim in their clean, cold waters. Cenotes are believed to have formed after a giant asteroid hit the Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago. This same asteroid is also thought to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs!
2. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judging what is happening. Mindfulness may help some people manage their chronic pain. Researchers studied a group of people who were taking medications to treat chronic pain. Some of these people were taught how to practice mindfulness. When the researchers looked at brain images of those practicing mindfulness, there was less activation in the parts of the brain that manage pain messages. Over time, some of the participants were able to decrease or even stop using pain medications by practicing mindfulness every day. There are many free mindfulness exercises online.
53. Everyday Reading #1
Cue your patient to, “Review the everyday reading material, then answer the questions”:
EVERYDAY READING MATERIAL:
- How much is an Iced Green Tea?
- Which item is the most expensive?
- Which item is the least expensive?
- Much much would all 3 items cost?
54. Reading #2
Cue your patient to, “Review the everyday reading material, then answer the questions”:
EVERYDAY READING MATERIAL:
- Who wrote the card?
- Who received the card?
- What happened to the person who received the card?
- What food was mentioned?
55. Everyday Reading #3
- What type of menu is this?
- Which items cost $4?
- How much is an Iced Coffee?
- How much would a Mocha plus an Irish Coffee cost?
- What are the 3 tea options?