Raising awareness of aphasia - a 'silent condition'

ITV News has been finding out more about aphasia from those living with the condition

A new campaign is helping to raise awareness of a condition which affects speech and communication, affecting around 350,000 people in the UK.

Aphasia is usually the result of damage to the left side of the brain. It is commonly caused by strokes and can make it difficult to speak, listen, read or write.

Tony Osborne from Basildon in Essex had two strokes last year. He said it has changed his everyday life. He explained: “When I go to family functions, I tend to be a lot more quieter, whereas before I was probably the life and soul of the party”.

Jan McDonald who lives near Waterlooville in Hampshire also has aphasia after a stroke 18 years ago. Her daughter Carly Davey explained: “You’ve got all your intelligence, all your wits about you, so it really is just a language disorder that causes a problem with expression of language.”

June is Aphasia Awareness Month and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists wants to give people a better understanding of the condition.

There are a number of aphasia support groups across the UK, run by the Say Aphasia charity. The charity’s founder, Colin Lyall, experienced aphasia after having a stroke 10 years ago. “I could say sort of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. My intelligence was intact but I couldn’t get any of the right words at all” he said.

He believes not enough is known about aphasia: “It’s like a silent condition – people don’t realise what’s going on.”

How to support people with aphasia

Living with aphasia can be vastly different for each person. Here are some top tips from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists on how you can assist someone with aphasia during a conversation:

  • Give them time to talk - pause and listen, don't be tempted to fill the silences.

  • Use a pen and paper. Someone with aphasia may be able to write a word or part of a word if they are struggling to say it.

  • Be kind and respect people's intellegence.

For more information, contact the RCSLT and Say Aphasia