Did you know that about one million people live with aphasia in our nation, but that most people have never heard of it? Because of this, it is important to spread awareness of this communication disorder, especially since June is National Aphasia Awareness Month.
What is Aphasia?
Aphasia is caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury where the part of the brain that controls language and speech is affected. Although people with aphasia might not be able to speak or process language correctly, it doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent than they were prior to the injury. Aphasia does not affect intelligence, just the ability to communicate.
People with aphasia don’t have intellectual deficits, but they can struggle with reading, writing, and expressing themselves. They may insert words into speech that don’t make sense, use grammatically incorrect sentences, or have a difficult time making sense of what is being said. There are several types of aphasia, each with unique symptoms:
- Broca’s (expressive) aphasia involves trouble forming complete sentences, but people with this form of aphasia can still express themselves and understand others.
- Wenicke’s (receptive) aphasia involves using the wrong words or made-up words and sufferers have serious comprehension problems.
- Global aphasia involves impairment of both speaking and understanding language.
Aphasia can happen to anyone regardless of race or gender. The important thing to remember is that, while sufferers may struggle to form and process language, their intelligence is not impaired. It can be frustrating to try to communicate with a person with aphasia, but imagine how frustrating it is for him or her! Do your part to spread the word about this misunderstood condition during the month of June.