Cognitive Communication Disorder

Overview—Cognitive Communication Disorder

If the damage is to the areas of the brain that control memory, attention, concentration, reasoning, planning, organization and/or insight, the resulting communication problems are sometimes labeled Cognitive Communication Disorder. This condition is often the result of a traumatic brain injury sustained in a motor vehicle collision. Some of the characteristics of a Cognitive Communication Disorder are as follows:

male teenager

  • Lack of insight – the person is unaware or denies having any communication problems, even if reminded continuously
  • Difficulty listening or concentrating on what is being said, or forgetting what was said
  • Talking too much and not recognizing when the listener is confused or bored
  • Difficulty knowing how to start, continue and/or finish a conversation
  • Difficulty staying on topic
  • Inappropriate or lack of facial expression or body language
  • Saying things that are embarrassing, rude or otherwise inappropriate to the situation
  • Difficulty organizing a message into a coherent sequence, such as explaining how to make coffee
  • Frequent requests for repetition due to difficulty following the conversation in a group setting or following the story line on television
  • Unfinished sentences or thoughts
  • Numerous pauses or frequent use of filler words such as “um”

Conversational Strategies

Caregivers can support individuals with cognitive-communication disorder by using the following conversational strategies:

couple in discussion

  • Tell individuals in a non-confrontational manner that you are having difficulty understanding what they are trying to say
  • If you think you know what individuals are trying to say, help them to communicate their message
  • Encourage individuals to use a different word if they are stuck
  • Encourage individuals to take a brief rest if they are feeling overwhelmed in a group discussion
  • Go over everyday activities, such as sorting laundry or making a sandwich, using short phrases and the correct sequence of steps in the procedure
  • If planning is required to complete an activity, have individuals create an outline of what needs to be done
  • Provide individuals with corrective feedback in a gentle manner when they say something rude or offensive. They may be disinhibited because of their injury and need to become aware of their inappropriate behavior.
  • Remind individuals to watch others for signs of confusion or boredom when they are speaking.
  • Encourage individuals to do simple crossword or word search puzzles as a fun way to work on vocabulary and categories.
  • Be patient, even when it is difficult.

Last modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 3:51 PM