Aphasia is a Loss of Language, Not Intellect
By Ellayne S. Ganzfried, M.S., CCC-SLP, Guest Contributor, National Aphasia Association
Imagine how devastating it would be to suddenly lose your ability to speak, read, write or understand what people are saying to you. Yet, you still retain your intellect.
This is aphasia. It’s a condition acquired by about 25-40 percent of stroke survivors. Aphasia also can result after a traumatic head injury, brain tumor or other neurological conditions.
More than 1 million people in the U.S.are estimated to have aphasia and 200,000 new cases are expected each year, yet few people have heard of it unless they or someone they love have aphasia.
National Aphasia Awareness Month was in June. Now and in the weeks to come, please take a moment to share this blog with your family, friends and colleagues. “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. You will be helping us increase awareness and understanding for people with aphasia.
If you know someone with aphasia or a caregiver who needs help, please mention the National Aphasia Association. We can provide:
- Immediate support via our national NAA Hotline: (800) 922-4622
- In-depth information on our website, www.aphasia.org
- Contacts for more than 440 Aphasia Support Groups and affiliates across the U.S.
- Training for public safety professionals through our Emergency Responders Training Program
- Training for retailers with our Aphasia Friendly Business Program
- The Aphasia Handbook: A Guide for Stroke and Brain Injury Survivors and Their Families.
NAA also provides tips for communicating with people who have aphasia.
- Have the person’s attention before you speak.
- Minimize or eliminate background noise (TV, radio, other people).
- Keep your own voice at a normal level.
- Keep communication simple, but adult.
- Give them time to speak, resist the urge to finish sentences or offer words.
- Communicate with drawings, gestures, writing and facial expressions.
- Confirm that you are communicating successfully with “yes” and “no” questions.
- Praise all attempts to speak and downplay any errors.
- Engage in normal activities whenever possible.
- Encourage independence, avoid being overprotective.
Now and year-round, let’s give people with aphasia the gift of understanding and patience.
Ellayne Ganzfried is a speech-language pathologist who is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and executive director of the National Aphasia Association, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2012 and Aphasia Awareness Month in June. This year’s theme is “The Power of Aphasia Groups: The Equation for Living Successfully with Aphasia.”