Return to Progressive Neurological Diseases and Communication Difficulties

Delaying the impact of communication problems following neurological diseases

See our Progressive Neurological Disease Home Page for a full list of information about progressive and degenerative neurological disease, and links to information and strategies relating to communication and cognitive functioning.

Delaying the impact of communication problems following neurological diseases

Progressive disorders – delaying the impact of communication difficulties
When diagnosed with a progressive illness it is often difficult to predict the course of the disease, everyone is different. However, it is a good idea to plan ahead, investigate what communication issues you may face and also investigate other assistive communication or technology options.


Speech Difficulties Dysarthria is one of the most common features of a number of the progressive diseases, but with an awareness of certain strategies an individual can prolong their ability to be understood. Having an awareness of breath control (to improve volume), using shorter sentences, and emphasizing key words, can all make differences to intelligibility (being able to be understood). Using simple communication aids can also give the listener cues and enhance intelligibility. A qualified speech and language pathologist / therapist can help you develop strategies and give you advice on assistive communication to facilitate speech difficulties arising from dysarthria and dysphonia.


Language Difficulties
Aphasia and difficulties with language (both understanding and expression) are a feature of some progressive neurological diseases. For some adults, understanding language will be an ongoing problem, and expressing their needs, just as difficult. When Individuals have these severe difficulties it is important to focus on a total communication environment. This means using every means possible to help with expression and understanding. It also means that those people that are around the individual have to be much more aware of their own communication.
Click here to find out more about Total Communication.


Reading and Writing difficulties
Dyslexia and dysgraphia are also difficulties that can arise from neurological problems. These problems may occur because of a difficulty with language or because physical problems make it harder to read and write because of reduced motor control, or difficulties with vision. The use of assistive devices, software, and some simple strategies can facilitate and prolong the ability to read and write effectively. Click here to find out more.


Cognitive Functioning
Difficulties with memory, planning and attention can all be symptoms of a progressive neurological illness. There are many simple strategies that can be implemented to make day to day tasks a little easier to manage:

  • Get into a routine so things become a habit.
  • Use a diary, calendar and lists and get used to checking them several times a day. Write down everything you need to remember.
  • Put lists down the side of the page and tick the things off as you do them. Put the diary somewhere obvious.
  • Have systems for everything, have a filing system for paperwork, use calendars, daily planners, sticky notes, noticeboards, set alarms on your mobile phone as a reminder for appointments etc.
  • Always put things in the same place – diary, keys etc.
  • Have a “home information centre” with a notice board for reminders, bills, keys etc
  • Set aside time each day for planning
  • Use timers, mobile phone and a Dictaphone for reminders
  • Use step by step checklists
  • Do not attempt tasks or try to discuss important issues when you feel tired
  • Create a home environment that is free from distraction and noise


For more information about communication difficulties, and ideas and strategies to help communication, see our Resources, or for specific fact-sheets about progressive and degenerative neurological diseases and information and strategies for improving communication and cognitive functioning go to the Downloads Section.


Recommended Reading



For a wider range of books, click here to see our Bookshop.

Permanent link to this article: