Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Finding the right words - the challenge of aphasia

June is Aphasia Awareness Month. And until 19 years ago, I had no idea what the word meant.

But I know now. It's a language disorder, leaving some people unable to speak. Others can speak but struggle to find the right words.

That was me. I still have the list of words I said to my wife after my 1998 stroke: towrith, rice, torithe. And I was trying to say the name of a city I'd visited not long before -- Jonesboro. Through time and with the help of a speech therapist, family and friends, I'm almost 100 percent back.

I can still remember frequently swapping pronouns -- referring to a male as "she" or a female as "he," a common occurrence. Or leaving out small words. Or using the wrong tense -- such as saying "worked" instead of "working."

Aphasia's main cause is injury to parts of the brain that control speech and language resulting from a stroke. Prevent a stroke and you prevent aphasia.

And it's important to note that aphasia does not reduce someone's intelligence -- just ways to express that intelligence.

I found this chart (below) from the American Stroke Association and the National Aphasia Association explaining some simple coping tools for people with aphasia and people who need to communicate with someone who has aphasia. You can also click here for a larger PDF version.

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