Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What the heck is aphasia?

If you've read this blog much, you'll know. But most people don't know much about aphasia, a language disorder that affects many stroke patients.

June is Aphasia Awareness Month, and my Google alerts found an article with a great point: People with aphasia can struggle to find the right words, use the wrong words, or speak haltingly, or speak very little.

All that being said - and I've been through all of those things myself - aphasia does not remove your intellect. People with aphasia are, by and large, just as intelligent as always. The problem is not intelligent. The problem is language.

I found this article on the National Aphasia Association website - sorry, but the PDF version is the only one I could find. A few sentences:
A National Aphasia Association survey found that because of their difficulty in communicating, over 70% of people with aphasia report that people avoided contact with them and 90 percent felt isolated, left out, ignored and lonely. This isolation, coupled with the fact that intellect remains intact, makes depression another serious result of aphasia.

Try to imagine what your life would be like if you suddenly were not able to communicate any longer. Every aspect of your life would be forever changed. Your role and responsibilities in your family would change. Your relationships with friends and colleagues would change. Completing everyday tasks like making a phone call, driving, shopping, dining out or getting cash at the bank, would become challenging or perhaps impossible without assistance, even though your intellect would remain intact.
Most of my signs of aphasia were effectively treated by speech therapy (an often unheralded but important line of work). It still can emerge during a time of stress or fatigue, which still can be frustrating.

But do know that someone you know with aphasia is still there - intellect and all.

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