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Aphasia Recovery and The Hill We Climb ... Together!
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
After my stroke and aphasia (loss of language), and as I got better, I started to describe my experience of having fallen off a cliff and climbing back up to describe what I had seen “down there.” My ability to describe the damage grew with each step upward.
While I was still unable to express my thoughts regarding my language deficits, I drew many pictures in my diary including one of several mountains with the word “aphasia” spread across the peaks of the range. I had a sense of “falling” as I looked at my “aphasia mountain” and could “see” letters falling down the *****.
It wasn’t until later when I could “find” the words to help describe what I was thinking (and drawing) back when those words had been lost. The pursuit of those lost words was the start of the climb, and it hasn’t stopped since.
Last month, I watched President Biden’s inauguration and listened to the new National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. She is an amazing young poet and provided the right tone for the administration’s approach. She faced many of her own hills to climb including having a speech impediment that resolved with a speech-language pathologist. It wasn’t until I heard the words “the hill we climb” when I realized that people with aphasia (PWA) have their own hill that we all have to climb, as Gorman said, “if only we dare.”
Ms. Gorman’s challenge is my own ongoing ascent with Aim High for Aphasia! It is the tagline for my national Aphasia Awareness Campaign since the start of Stroke Educator, Inc. in 2015.
Aphasia affects about two million Americans and is more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy (National Aphasia Association).
About 25%-40% of people with a stroke acquire aphasia and nearly 180,000 Americans develop the disorder each year. A recent survey by the National Aphasia Association (2020) reported that only 7.0% of respondents knew that aphasia is a language disorder and identified as “aphasia aware”.
We must provide information and training about aphasia and recovery to the wider public. The ABCs of Aphasia: A Stroke Primer is another step in the right direction and I have been donating copies of The ABCs of Aphasia to many hospitals in an effort to enlist them with the mutual hill of aphasia awareness that we have to climb … together.
Please see my article and video at https://youtu.be/me9M94Xw63U