Aphasia: An Impairment of Language, Not Intellect
Aphasia is the loss of language skills, whether it be expression, auditory comprehension, reading comprehension, or writing skills. It is the result of damage to the language area of the brain (oftentimes a stroke). I find that many of my patients feel misunderstood during communication exchanges, even by the people closest to them. Educating the general public on aphasia is something I have become very passionate about.
Currently, there are 1 million people in the United States living with aphasia, making it more common than Parkinson's Disease. According to surveys completed by the National Aphasia Association, 84% of the general public have never heard of the term 'aphasia.'
“A lot of people avoid talking to me- either consciously or subconsciously- because of the aphasia.”
Here are some tips penned by someone who has lived with aphasia for almost 2 years.
7 tips for communicating with someone with aphasia:
1. Feel free to request for a clarification. It does not hurt my feelings if you don’t understand.
2. Listen the same as you would to anybody else.
3. It doesn’t bother me if people finish my sentences. (editor note: this will vary from person to person. You can always ask the person with aphasia if they prefer help).
4. Aphasia can get you out of a ticket ;-).
5. Don’t talk louder.
6. You may have to communicate with someone in multiple ways. Talking, e-mails, etc.
7. Don’t act like they’re any different.
7 tips for people living with aphasia:
1. Don’t be afraid to tell people you have aphasia.
2. There will be good days and bad days. If you’re having a bad day, find someone to talk to.
3. Don’t be afraid to laugh.
4. Write things down but remember to look at it. I like to send myself e-mails as reminders.
5. All things will pass.
6. You have to practice. Think of talking of like a muscle. You have to use it. When I stop talking, I regress.
7. Happiness can be a choice. Everybody has a problem.
If you want to learn more about aphasia, you can visit this link: Aphasia Definitions - National Aphasia Association