June is Aphasia Awareness Month. If you’re wondering “What in the world is aphasia?”, you’re not alone! Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to use and understand language. And even though there are approximately 2 million people living with aphasia in the United States, most people aren’t aware of this condition until they or a loved one experiences it.
Although aphasia can result from a variety of neurological conditions, 80% of aphasia occurs after stroke. In fact, 1 in 3 stroke survivors experience some form of aphasia. Aphasia may affect a person’s ability to:
The language difficulties a person with aphasia experiences depends upon the area(s) of the brain that experience damage, and the extent of that damage. Although each person with aphasia has a unique set of strengths and challenges, there are broad categories or classifications that we can use to describe different types of aphasia. The 5 most common types of aphasia are described here, with helpful video clips that highlight the different strengths and challenges of each individual with aphasia:
Now that you know what aphasia IS, it is just as important to know what aphasia is NOT. Aphasia is NOT a disorder of intellect. Individuals with aphasia do not lose their intelligence. What they often do lose is their ability to demonstrate their competence through language. People with aphasia still have opinions and ideas – they just have difficulty sharing them with others!
Look for more posts about aphasia and communication in the coming weeks. Until then, check out the National Aphasia Association for facts, communication tips, and resources for living with aphasia:
-Annie Lauria M.A., CCC-SLP