College Honors Program

Date of Creation


Document Type


First Advisor

Renée Beard


This thesis aims to understand the lived experience of communication disorders (CDs), including the challenges, stigmas, and misconceptions related to CDs. It draws upon in-depth interviews with speech-language pathologists (SLPs), participant observations of people with aphasia, and observations of aphasia forum websites. During the data collection process, people talked about the stigmas and hardships of CDs and the subjective experience of having trouble communicating with others. This thesis will use their words and ideas to highlight the important aspects of coping with and treating CDs. It discusses how people with aphasia think about space, their body, and time, and considers how people with CDs negotiate interactional contexts and experience stigma. The experience of living with a CD is complex, and in order to fully understand it we need to look beyond the biological perspective. The inability to use language hinders people from showing themselves as thinking and acting individuals in everyday life, and because society ties intelligence and maturity to language, those with CDs have their identity threatened. This thesis includes suggestions for improving rehabilitation and treatment, as well as areas for future study.