Cognitive Communication Difficulties



Cognitive Communication Difficulties

A set of communication difficulties that result from underlying deficits in thinking. The communication difficulties can include problems with listening, understanding spoken language, speaking, reading, writing, conversational interaction, and social communication. These difficulties may occur as a result of underlying deficits in cognition, in the areas of attention, memory, information processing, reasoning, problem solving, executive functions, or self-regulation. A cognitive-communication disorder may be caused by traumatic brain injury, a concussion, stroke, mental illness such as depression or anxiety, or degenerative conditions such as dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.


How can a Speech-Language Pathologist help?

A speech-language pathologist can assess all aspects of the person’s communication and cognitive thinking skills that may influence the person’s communication (e.g. attention, memory, organization, reasoning, judgement).  The speech-language pathologist can also assess swallowing as needed. An important part of this assessment is to determine the extent to which these cognitive-communication difficulties may affect the person’s return to work, school, family interactions, and/or return to activities in the community.  The speech-language pathologist works with the client to develop a treatment plan, which lists therapy goals, procedures, and strategies, to help the person and their family improve communication competencies in areas such as:

  • Family Communications
  • Community Communications
  • Social Communication
  • Workplace Communication
  • Academic Communication
  • Information Management
  • Problem Solving Communication

Therapy is provided in a hospital, the person’s home, school, community, or place of employment depending on the person’s needs and stage of recovery.  Treatment may include:

  • educating the patient and their significant others about the nature of the patient’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to help the patient cope.
  • changing or modifying the environment – e.g. reducing background noise so the person can listen more effectively.
  • providing the patient with exercises to improve their cognitive-communication, speech, and/or swallowing skills.
  • providing the patient with opportunities to practice communicating in a variety of settings and situations.
  • teaching the person strategies to help compensate for or deal with their difficulties.
  • working closely with all of the professionals who are assisting the person with brain injury (e.g. Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Social Workers).


For more information:

The Role of Speech-Language Pathologists in Concussion Management


Find a Speech-Language Pathologist or Audiologist