Speaking of Aphasia

Did you know?

  • Stroke, the most common form of aphasia, is the number 5 cause of death in the US
  • Aphasia is derived from the Greek, a– meaning “not” and phannai meaning “to speak,” giving its current definition of “loss of speech.”
  • Aphasia was sometimes called dysphasia, but that term was discontinued, as it was frequently confused with the term dysphagia, inability or difficulty with swallowing, a condition more common among persons with cerebral palsy.

June is aphasia awareness month!

aphasia awareness and ability

Ralph Waldo Emerson had aphasia is his later years. When asked how he felt, he responded, “Quite well; I have lost my mental faculties, but am perfectly well.”

Derived from the Greek, a-, meaning “not” and phannai meaning “to speak,” giving its current definition of “loss of speech,” aphasia is a condition affecting one’s ability to community, either in speech or the written word, because of a brain injury.  Although stroke, triggered by a disruption of blood to the brain, is the main cause, traumatic brain injury can also lead to aphasia.  There are five main types of aphasia:

  • Global aphasia – this is the most common and severe form; these individuals cannot read, write, or speak and understand little or no spoken language.
  • Expressive aphasia (also known as Broca’s aphasia) – individuals have severely limited ability to speak but may understand speech and be able to read.
  • Wernicke’s aphasia (also known receptive aphasia) – these people can speak but cannot read or write.
  • Mixed non-fluent aphasia – these people have expressive aphasia but are very limited in their ability to read and write.
  • Anomic aphasia – these people have difficulty finding the right word for objects, events, or places; it is the least severe form of aphasia.

Anyone seeking to communicate with someone who has aphasia should keep the following in mind:

  • Keep it simple; use short sentences.
  • Be patient; repeat, if necessary, and allow the person to respond.
  • Remove distractions such as TVs and stereos.
  • Use various forms of communication, such as writing, gestures, or a tablet computer.
  • Confirm and acknowledge what the other person has said.
  • Use a normal tone of voice; people with aphasia are not deaf or hard of hearing.

In other words, communication is still possible; you only need to do so differently and with more creativity.


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