Communication: How Communication Changes Over Time

Communication: How Communication Changes Over Time

Roberta DePompei, Ph.D. and Jean Blosser, Ed.D.
Communication abilities can change over time in a child with a brain injury. This tip card helps parents, educators, and therapists understand how a brain injury affects speech, language and communication. It shows how to identify changes over time as the child’s brain develops and how to refer a child for an evaluation in school.
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The effects of a brain injury on a child’s communication can change over time as the child recovers and the brain matures. This tip card identifies changes in information processing, memory and attention with tips on communication and evaluation. A quarterly checklist helps families, teachers, and therapists track changes in cognitive communication skills over two years. It helps educators identify the impact of communication skills on reading, writing and comprehension in the classroom.p>

Pages 8
Year 2008, second edition


Jean Blosser, Ed.D.

She is Vice President for Therapy Programs and Quality with a special focus on school-based and early intervention services. Her extensive clinical work and publications have focused on the needs of students and children with impairments in cognitive communication due to acquired brain injuries.

Roberta DePompei, Ph.D.

Roberta is a Professor and Clinical Supervisor at the Audiology and Speech Center at the University of Akron in Ohio. An advocate of the needs of youths with brain injuries and their families, she is on numerous national task forces and committees, as well as former co-chair of the Special Interest Group on Children and Adolescents with Brain Injuries for the Brain Injury Association of America. Widely published and a national and international presenter, Dr. DePompei specializes in the impact of brain injury upon speech, language and communication. She is especially interested in developing transitional opportunities for students as they progress through school and prepare for adulthood.


This tip card helps families, friends, educators, and therapists...

  • understand how a brain injury affects speech, language and communication
  • identify changes over time
  • refer a child for an evaluation

Communication and the Brain

Changes in Communication

  • What is speech?
  • What is language?


  • Information processing
  • Memory

Communication Checklist

  • Receptive skills
  • Expressive skills
  • Cognitive-communication skills
  • Speaking or writing is disorganized
  • Hard to concentrate and pay attention
  • Confused by new ideas
  • Slower rate of handling information
  • Hard to learn new vocabulary or grasp ideas
  • Shorter attention

Growing up

How can families, friends, teachers, and others help?

  • Tips on communicating
  • Tips to prevent confusion
  • Tips on educating others

Finding a speech and language pathologist



Sample excerpt. Preview only – please do not copy.

Communication and the Brain

Communication disorders after a brain injury can result in...

  • isolation and loss of friends
  • frustration
  • problems learning
  • difficulty writing, speaking, reading or understanding

Speech and language can be affected in many different ways when a child’s brain is injured. Difficulty talking and understanding language is often most noticeable during the first days, weeks or even months after the brain injury. This can be frustrating, frightening, and upsetting for the child and family. Friends and classmates may be uncertain how to help, and may even avoid the child. Educators may be uncertain how the child can learn.

Most children regain their ability to speak. However, as the child starts to talk, read and write again, subtle changes in communication can easily be overlooked. Some changes may not even show up until the child is older.

Changes in Communication

What is language?

Language refers to the use of words and sentences to convey ideas. After a brain injury, the following conditions may be seen.

  • Hyperverbal or non stop talking. A child talks all the time and seems to monopolize the conversation. When the conversation is analyzed, a lot has been said but it has little meaning.
  • Tangential use of language. A child talks beyond the topic or the question asked. Answers are long, but not related to what was asked.

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