Until Bruce Willis was first diagnosed with aphasia, few people had ever heard of the term. According to the National Aphasia Association, only 8.8% have heard of the term and know it’s a language disorder.
Around 2 million U.S. residents have aphasia, and it’s linked to a traumatic brain injury. Around 33% of those with aphasia first suffered a stroke. Aphasia impacts speaking, reading, writing, and understanding. If your dad has aphasia, has his medical team discussed the benefit of speech therapy?
The Eight Types of Aphasia
There are eight types of aphasia. In each case, the patient struggles with speech, comprehension, reading, and/or writing. It usually comes down to the section of the brain that was damaged and the results of that damage.
Anomic Aphasia – The person can speak, comprehend speech, and repeat words or phrases.
Broca’s Aphasia – The person cannot speak or repeat words and phrases but can comprehend speech
Conduction Aphasia – The person can speak and comprehend speech but cannot repeat words or phrases
Global Aphasia – The person cannot speak, comprehend speech, or repeat words or phrases
Mixed Transcortical Aphasia – The person cannot speak or comprehend speech, but can repeat words or phrases
Transcortical Motor Aphasia – The person cannot speak but can comprehend speech and repeat words or phrases
Transcortical Sensory Aphasia – The person can speak and repeat words and phrases but cannot comprehend speech
Wernicke’s Aphasia – The person can speak but cannot comprehend speech or repeat words or phrases
No matter which type your dad has, a speech therapist will look at his health records, the damage to his brain, and his current skills. A plan to help him is created.
Tips for Communicating With Your Dad
As you try to keep communicating with your dad, he’s going to get frustrated. He struggles to tell you what he’s feeling or needs. You are sad and also frustrated that you can’t understand what he wants without a struggle. Your dad is withdrawing, and you’re desperate to make things better for him.
When your dad has aphasia, make sure he’s working with a speech therapist. It helps him improve his communication skills, and that also helps you better understand him. Arrange the speech therapy sessions when you can also attend them.
Adaptive equipment like speech-to-text software on a tablet or laptop is helpful. Speech-generating technology and even a simple whiteboard can be helpful if your dad can write.
Make sure you take care of yourself, too. Join a support group for families dealing with aphasia. See if your dad wants to join you. Make sure he understands that he has people’s support no matter what.
Arrange speech therapy as soon as you can. It’s the best way to boost the ability to communicate, even if it requires new ways to do it. With speech therapy, your dad’s frustration will lessen, you’ll feel better about his situation, and you have access to continuing expert advice.