National Aphasia Awareness Month: It's Time To Educate Yourself!

Happy JUNE! While most people link June with summers, it is also National Aphasia Awareness Month in the US. Every year, June is dedicated to supporting one of the most common health conditions in the US- Aphasia. According to the National Aphasia Association, more than 2 million people in America are affected by this disorder. Unfortunately, very few people in the country are aware of this disease. Irrespective of the high number of people suffering from it, it is of utmost importance to spread awareness. This makes it a need of an hour to break the communication barriers and spread knowledge about Aphasia. 


National Aphasia Awareness Month is a campaign that runs in June with the aim of spreading public awareness of the linguistic disorder and recognizing the people who live with it. During this month, Clinical specialists, together with groups of people, join hands and make all efforts to share information about Aphasia and the experiences of people suffering from it.


Make sure you take out some time from your summer celebration and participate in the efforts of others to spread awareness during National Aphasia Awareness Month. For this, you need to learn about the disorder, its causes, symptoms, impacts, etc. Read this complete article and educate yourself about Aphasia. 


Get ready! It’s time for National Aphasia Awareness Month.


What Is Aphasia?



According to the National Aphasia Association, “Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others.” In a nutshell, Aphasia is a linguistic impairment that impacts the communication skills of an individual. 


People who are suffering from Aphasia have an impairment in the brain areas that are involved in language production and its processing. This disorder makes people lose their ability to use words and understand them. It further results in causing difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, listening, and swallowing. Such people might also find it challenging to execute mathematical calculations. Regardless of all these problems, the intellect of an individual is not affected. The intelligence level remains the same.  


Aphasia Awareness Statistics 2020


The National Aphasia Association conducted a survey in 2020 to assess the level of acquaintance and knowledge with Aphasia in the United States. This was the second national survey that was done after 2016. For this survey, the authorities collected data from 1,001 participants of age between 25 and above. This survey helped NAA know the importance of increasing awareness about Aphasia and providing the community with essential resources. Here are some of the key takeaways from the survey.



1. People who have never heard of “Aphasia” — 86.2%

2. People who identify Aphasia as a linguistic disorder — 7%

3. People who have personal experience of Aphasia (Either their own or someone in close) — 29.5%

4. People who recall hearing of Aphasia from TV or movie — 13.8%



Causes & Symptoms of Aphasia



Causes: Aphasia usually occurs due to damage on one or more language centers of the brain, mainly the left side. Since our language abilities, logical thinking, analysis abilities, writing skills, etc., are on the left side of the brain, any damage to it will cause Aphasia disorder. This damage can be due to any reason, say injuries, accidents, or any disease. The most common reason for the illness is stroke. Other than that - brain tumors, Degenerative diseases, traumatic brain injuries, and neurological disorders also lead to Aphasia. 


Sign and Symptoms: No two individuals experience the same symptoms of Aphasia as it highly depends on the location and amount of damage in the brain. Some might find it challenging to respond to others, while others can’t understand what they listen to. Different people have different symptoms. Here are some of the signs that are commonly reported by people suffering from Aphasia.


1. Difficulty in producing words and sentences 

2. Speaking incomplete sentences or shorter ones

3. Substituting one word or sound from other 

4. Not understanding the language what other speaks

5. Finds difficulty in working with mathematical calculations

6. Difficulty in reading and writing the sentences

7. Finds it difficult to check the time or count money


Impact Of Aphasia Disorder


Even though Aphasia does not impact the intelligence of an individual, it has some severe impacts on the life of the person who is suffering from the disorder. As Aphasia interferes with the language processing and understanding of the brain, it can have a wide range of repercussions on people's lives. This includes:


1. The lack of language understanding negatively impacts employability.

2. It causes feelings of isolation, depression, mental stress, and even boredom.

3. This illness reduces participation in the activities of daily lives.

4. It decreases the quality of life and lack of satisfaction.

5. Aphasia leads to the loss of various relationships, both in society and at the workplace.

6. This disorder makes people feel a lack of confidence and frustration.


Tips For Communicating With People Suffering From Aphasia 



People who are diagnosed with Aphasia disorder are generally frustrated, underconfident, and confused. Lack of understanding and speaking the words make them feel irritated, which in return results in isolation. However, with some easy tips, people can easily communicate with them. Here are some of the tips:


Keep the conversation simple: One of the essential tips to communicate with a person with Aphasia is to keep the conversations easy and uncomplicated. Try to use shorter and simple sentences. 


Start by capturing the attention: Before you dive into the conversation, make sure you gain the total concentration of the person. Try to keep eye contact all the time. 


Be patient with the person: If you are talking to someone who is dealing with Aphasia, you must keep patience. Such individuals take a little more time than a normal person to understand words and sentences. Hence, speak slowly and clearly and wait for them to respond. However, even if they need more time, be patient and don’t get angry.


Stay away from unwanted noise or distractions: Distractions make it more difficult for people suffering from Aphasia to acknowledge words. So, stay away from background noise and remove the TV and other distractions.


Be creative with them: Dealing with such individuals requires a person to be really creative. For example, if a person finds it easy to read, try having the written form conversation. Else, make the use of gestures and communicate with them in “Yes” and “No.”


Confirm all the answers before assuming: If you communicate with a person with Aphasia, you should always confirm the answers before making the judgments. Repeat back the question while they are in the thinking process. It will make it easier for them.


Encourage them: Lastly, the most crucial tip is to encourage them. Including them in day-to-day activities, talking to them, motivating them, and helping them treat the disorder will help them get over the disease more confidently. 


Importance of National Aphasia Awareness Month



June is National Aphasia Awareness Month when people join hands to spread awareness about Aphasia disorder. With thousands of people getting affected by this disease in the USA every year, back in the 1980s, The National Aphasia Association was born. They started National Aphasia Awareness Month as an initiative to make people aware of the disorder so that they can help people who are suffering from it. 


National Aphasia Awareness Month is not just to let people know about Aphasia but also to recognize how people live their lives with the disorder, how much support they are getting, what facilities they get in public, and how people treat them, and more. Although this disorder is common in the US, it is not widely known to people. Hence, National Aphasia Awareness Month is one of the best initiatives to inform people about it. Here are some of the importance:


1. It helps in spreading awareness about Aphasia

Without an iota of doubt, this is one of the critical benefits of National Aphasia Awareness Month. It is a chance to change the statistics that show how many people are aware of Aphasia. During this month, people come together and try their best to make as many people aware as possible about it. 


2. Develops Respect For People With The Disorder

Another crucial advantage of celebrating National Aphasia Awareness Month is that it helps develop respect for the people who are suffering from the disorder. It is rightly said, “The more we read about something, the more we connect to it.” When people get aware of the disorder, they understand what others are going through. This eventually helps in developing respect towards them.


Grows Understanding Of Healthcare Professionals About The Disease

As knowledge of Aphasia increases, medical professionals also benefit from National Aphasia Awareness Month. They get to know about the distinct symptoms and issues the people are experiencing. It also helps them to know how many people are suffering from it, what treatment they require, their condition over a while, etc. This enables the professionals to improve the engagement with the patients and curate treatment plans that can better help in dealing with the disorder.



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