Aphasia: Coping as a Family

Throughout the month of June, SANY has dedicated its blog to issues related to aphasia in observance of the National Aphasia Association’s Aphasia Awareness Month in an effort to raise public awareness of this communication disorder and its consequences. Today we’ll conclude our series by discussing the way that aphasia can affect a family as a unit, and what support services are available.

Aphasia typically occurs suddenly, often as a result of a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Because of this, a family can suddenly find that their entire world has changed overnight with a myriad of challenges to face. First, of course, is their loved one’s health. How severe is the aphasia? Will they recover? Will they ever be able to return to work or even hold a conversation again? After the shock of the initial injury begins to fade, other issues begin to emerge. Financial, logistical, and emotional problems often appear as it becomes clear the individual with aphasia may not return to their previous role in the near future. This can often put strain on a family that is already dealing with a heavy emotional load.

One step towards a positive recovery is discussing the disability with a speech-language pathologist. Having performed a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s communication, the speech therapist can help the family to understand their loved one’s particular strengths and weaknesses. By having a better idea where the person’s communication abilities lie, family members can better tailor their own communication strategies to best connect with their loved one. The speech-language pathologist can also provide realistic expectations for the recovery of the individual’s communication skills.

Aphasia can be a very emotionally complicated disorder; when communicative abilities are lost so unexpectedly, anger, frustration, and depression often occur. In addition, atypical emotional and social responses may occur as a result of the location of the brain damage. A speech-language pathologist can help family members to recognize and anticipate these issues, providing resources for understanding the emotional ramifications of aphasia. By fully appreciating these issues, family members are often better-equipped to handle changes they may see in their loved one as they adjust to living with a communication disorder.

Finally, there are a variety of groups targeted toward providing support to individual’s with aphasia and their families. Being able to discuss the experience with others who are going through the same challenges can be extremely therapeutic. Ask your speech-language pathologist or physician what groups are available in your area.

If you or someone you love has a communication disorder, contact Speech Associates of New York and allow our professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists help you communicate to the best of your ability. Our team provides in-home evaluations and therapy, and is trained in the assessment and treatment of a range of pediatric and adult speech, language and communication disorders. Call us today at (917) 841-2965 and find out how we can help you communicate your best!

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