What Is Aphasia?

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Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders

What Is Aphasia?

"Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language (typically in the left half of the brain). Individuals who experience damage to the right side of the brain may have additional difficulties beyond speech and language issues. Aphasia may causes difficulties in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, but does not affect intelligence. Individuals with aphasia may also have other problems, such as dysarthria, apraxia, or swallowing problems." -ASHA

"Aphasia is an acquired language disorder due to brain damage. People with aphasia may have difficulty with language in all forms: understanding what others are saying, putting their thoughts into words, understanding what is read, and writing. Aphasia alone does not affect a person's intellect, memory, judgment, or problem-solving skills. Aphasia can range from mild (sometimes difficulty thinking of a word) to severe (little to no ability to speak). All people with aphasia have some degree of difficulty recalling words: this is like having that 'tip of the tongue' feeling. A person with aphasia may say one word but means to say something else."-Adler Aphasia Center

"Aphasia affects the language centers of the brain. Intelligence, thinking, attention, and memory are unrelated to the disorder. People with aphasia have not lost their intellect, memories, focus, drive, or thoughts. They simply have difficulty expressing and formulating those thoughts into words and sentences. Aphasia does not affect hearing in any way. It does, however, often affect a person’s ability to understand language. Often times, well-meaning conversation partners will speak louder when talking to someone with aphasia, when it is actually more helpful to speak slightly slower. This provides the person with aphasia additional time to process language. Imagine visiting a foreign country where you are less familiar with the language spoken.  You would likely benefit from the speaker talking in a slightly slower rate, emphasizing key words, and eliminating background noise." -University of Michigan Aphasia Program

"Over 1 million Americans, or 1 in 250, live with aphasia.  Although risk of stroke increases with age and the majority of people with aphasia are middle-aged and older, aphasia can occur at any age. If fact, according to ASHA, 15% of people with aphasia are under 65. Brain injury, and subsequent aphasia, can occur at any age." -University of Michigan Aphasia Program

"Aphasia is a language problem that masks a person’s inherent competence, and most dramatically affects conversational interaction (talking and understanding), as well as the ability to read and write. Aphasia is usually the lasting result of a stroke or brain injury, but may also be caused by other neurological conditions such as dementia or brain tumours. Aphasia may be classified as an invisible disability, though it is not well known or understood in the community.Many adults with aphasia know exactly what is going on, have opinions on issues, have the desire to socialize, and are capable of participating in decisions that pertain to them. But aphasia affects a person’s ability to communicate feelings, thoughts and emotions, or the ability to understand what others say." -Aphasia Institute of Toronto