What is Cognitive Communication Disorder?
Communication is a complex process which involves many thinking, social and conversation skills – all of these skills work together to help us communicate effectively with the world around us. When an individual has a brain injury which impacts any aspect of these skills, the resulting difficulties are referred to as ‘Cognitive Communication Disorder’. Difficulties in these areas can affect both verbal and non-verbal communication.
It can often seem that the person’s personality has changed as they are exhibiting behaviours that previously wouldn’t have been part of their communication style. However as it has been caused by brain injury, this is a change that they’re not in control of. The symptoms displayed can vary greatly between individuals, however social skills in everyday conversation are commonly affected. Observed symptoms often include:
- Failing to respond or taking a long time to respond to questions and conversations
- Having difficulty starting conversations or bringing conversations to a close
- Difficulty in following group conversations, particularly in noisy environments
- Providing very brief responses to questions
- Difficulty in recognising social cues in conversation (e.g. facial expression and body language)
- Difficulty in using facial expression to convey emotions
- Difficulties turn-taking in conversation (e.g. talking for too long on a certain topic)
- Interrupting in conversation
- Difficulties keeping on topic (e.g. changing topic too quickly/frequently)
- Making socially inappropriate comments
- Reduced awareness of difficulties/changes in communication
What can I do to help?
- Be patient – remember that these behaviours are not intentional
- Give feedback about how effective the person’s communication is in a particular interaction – this can help to increase awareness and aid them in taking back control
- This can be a very sensitive process so it is important that you reach an agreement with the person beforehand as to what kind of feedback can be given and how it will be provided
- You can provide feedback either during conversation or at the end of conversation
- Try to agree a discreet signal to give feedback – this can be verbal or non-verbal (e.g. a hand signal to highlight that they’ve gone off topic)
- Try to make any feedback you give as specific and honest as possible
- Try to include positives/things that they’ve done well
- If the person is becoming frustrated or overwhelmed in conversation, encourage them to take a break and try again later
Where can I get more information?
www.headway.org.uk offers further details on key symptoms and means of seeking support for both those with these difficulties and their family members.
Speech and Language Therapists can provide further in-depth advice and strategies specific to the needs of the individual to help support their communication across contexts.
Please contact your Speech and Language Therapist if you require more information.
- Last Updated:15 April 2020
- Review Date:15 April 2024
- Author:Ross Campbell
Communication is a complex process which involves many thinking, social and conversation skills – all of these skills work together to help us communicate effectively with the world around us.