While you celebrate summer, take a minute to gain an understanding of the medical condition known as aphasia and observe National Aphasia Awareness Month all through June. This national campaign is held to increase public awareness about this disorder and to recognize the people living with it or caring for people with it. Typically occurring after a brain injury — like stroke, a tumor, or an infection — aphasia is a language impairment that affects a person’s ability to comprehend language and communicate.
History of National Aphasia Awareness Month
Back in the early ages, language disorders were not usually classified into types, and their relation to the brain was also not recorded. Aside from one early exception in Ancient Egypt, most language disorder prognoses did not mention the underlying causes.
Over time, scholars attempted to explain language disorders in relation to mental processes, and this research picked up speed after two neuroscientists researched aspects of aphasia. However, at this time, the research only focused on recognizing and reproducing words, and the entire linguistic principles were ignored. Aphasia briefly took on a clinical role, used only to classify patients with language disorders. The fact that wounds on the brain could and do cause aphasia was only learned much later after extensive research and trials were conducted on this subject.
National Aphasia Association came into existence to help individuals with aphasia communicate and have a better quality of life.
National Aphasia Awareness Month timeline
An Egyptian papyrus – called the “Edwin Smith Papyrus” – details speech problems in a person with a traumatic brain injury.
Neurologists Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke describe two classical forms of aphasia, which are now named after them.
Scientists and philosophers who are working in the field of psychology drive this focus.
Martha Taylor Sarno, MA, MD (hon) establishes this association after realizing the existing systems are not meeting the needs of people with aphasia.
This change occurs due to studies conducted at the Boston Aphasia Unit and because American linguist and cognitive scientist Avram Noam Chomsky's theory believes children are born with the inherited skill to learn and pick up any language.
National Aphasia Awareness Month FAQs
What month is National Stroke Awareness Month?
National Stroke Awareness Month is observed in the month of May.
What color is aphasia awareness?
The color gray is associated with aphasia awareness.
Is aphasia a disability?
Aphasia is classified as a disability, although official sites are more inconspicuous than others.
How To Observe National Aphasia Awareness Month
One of the key issues people with aphasia deal with is a lack of awareness among the general population. So, on this day, go ahead and research this day, and how best to deal with people afflicted with this condition. A little knowledge goes a long way, and you can even educate your loved ones about it.
Create your own support group
Another key area of help could be a special group full of people ready to help and support those with aphasia. Research shows such support groups are known to help people with aphasia by offering tips, guidance, and emotional support. Statistics indicate there are already more than 600 support groups for stroke and aphasia in the United States, and yours can be one of this impressive number too.
Visit the National Aphasia Association website
Not only do the National Aphasia Association hand out educational material during this month, but they also include a list of events and activities that can be checked out. Their website is categorized as per their specific needs and you can do your bit to contribute to their organization.
5 Interesting Facts About Aphasia
There is a big gap in knowledge
Two million people across the U.S. have aphasia but 84.5% of Americans have never heard the term before, according to data from the National Aphasia Association.
The number grows each year
Almost 80,000 Americans are diagnosed with aphasia every year.
Aphasia does not discriminate
People of all ages, races, nationalities, and genders can get aphasia.
One cause is more common than others
85% of aphasia is caused due to strokes — other causes include traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, degenerative disease, and metabolic changes.
Functional communication skills can improve
People with aphasia who receive around 8–10 hours of treatment per week show more progress than those who do not.
Why National Aphasia Awareness Month Is Important
We learn about aphasia
National Aphasia Awareness Month is our chance to reverse the statistics that show Americans don't know about this condition. Learning more also helps us better sympathize with those with the condition and teaches us how to help them live a better life. We also gain a new appreciation of the people caring for the ones with aphasia.
We learn about aphasia research
Research is still ongoing about how aphasia can be treated. New treatment methods indicate ways to shift brain function so people can relearn languages. Associations and our own research prove that there are countless people still studying this condition. Since they are not giving up the fight, we are never giving up hope.
We develop more respect
The more we read about this disorder, the more we understand how to treat the people afflicted with aphasia. Some quality tips include speaking to them in a quiet place, using shorter sentences and repeating key words while speaking slowly, not talking down to them or speaking loudly, using drawings or gestures while speaking as it may enhance understanding, and more. People with aphasia are just as sharp, and their only issue is with communication. Learning this helps us deal with them the way we should — with respect.
National Aphasia Awareness Month dates